There are many breeds within the category of domestic longhair cats, including Persians, Maine Coons, and many others. Find out why these glorious felines regularly turn heads at cat shows.
Types of Domestic Longhair Cats
Longhair cats certainly require more maintenance than their shorthair counterparts, but there is typically a sense of luxury or even a majestic presence associated with the long hair breeds. Whereas shorthairs are fluffy, silky, and downright cute, there is something very posh and wondrous about a cat with an enviable mane. The most notable breeds within the longhair category are frequently spotlight-stealers at cat shows, and many breeders have devoted their life's purpose to preserving the traits of these extremely furry felines.
American Bobtails are unusual cats because of their tail is very short, averaging between one to four inches long. Coupled with thick, long fluffy fur, gives the cat a stout, sturdy appearance. Their coats come in all colors and patterns, but the tabbies appear like Bobcats because their ears are tipped with long hair. They are large cats as well with male cats weighing 14 pounds or more. Despite their big size, they are known for being very affectionate cats and are called the "Golden Retrievers" of the cat world.
American Curl's most distinctive feature is their namesake. Their ears curl rather than standing straight up like most cats. Not all American Curl cats will have ears that curl back, however. The curl comes from a spontaneous mutation and you can have curling and non-curling kittens in the same litter. The breed comes in both short and long hair varieties. American Curls are medium-size cats who are known for being very friendly and highly affectionate and an all-around great choice for a family with children.
Balinese cats have very similar coloring to Siamese cats and can easily be mistaken for one. The one major difference is their long coat length and fluffy tail. Like the Siamese, they come in seal point, lilac point, chocolate point and blue point colors. Their medium-length silky hair is also low shedding which is a nice feature for a long-haired cat lover who doesn't love cleaning up lots of cat hair. In terms of their temperament, they are described as being almost identical to their Siamese cousins and love chatting with their humans.
The Birman breed is noted for being considered sacred feline companions to priests in their home country of Burma. Birmans are big cats with thick, stocky bodies and are notable for their long silky hair. Their coloring is like the point patterns of a Siamese cat and they have beautiful blue eyes. Birmans are known for being calm, but friendly, cats who do best in homes where they are not alone often. They enjoy the company of other pets as well.
The Himalayan is not a separate breed but a color variety of the Persian. Some cat registries consider the "Himmie" a distinct breed, however, such as the American Cat Fanciers Association and the International Cat Association. Himalayans are colorpoint cats and come in many versions including chocolate, blue, red, lynx, tortie, and several more. Himalayans are generally quiet cats who prefer lounging around and enjoying their human's company. Despite having a Siamese heritage, they are not as vocal and make good feline companions for laid back homes. They also require a lot of regular grooming, including a daily combing and frequent brushings and baths.
Like their American Bobtail cousins, the Japanese Bobtail has a short tail that looks much like a rabbit's tail. Japanese Bobtails are smaller cats with more refined features than American Bobtails. They come in both short and long hair varieties. These cats are well loved in Japanese culture and are considered lucky. If you've ever seen the Japanese porcelain cat statues with one paw raised in a hello gesture, these are based on the Japanese Bobtail. The Japanese Bobtail has an active, intelligent personality and can be very "chatty" with their owners.
The Javanese cat was bred from a mix of Balinese and Siamese cats to produce a long-haired cat with Siamese colorpoint coats. They are slender, athletic cats with an overall svelte appearance. Their hair is medium length and silky which is easy to groom with a few combings each week. Like the Siamese, the Javanese cat is very vocal and active and is not a cat that will lounge quietly in the background of our home.
The LaPerm's name makes sense once you see their unusual curly fur. This fur type originated as a spontaneous mutation that was then purposely bred. LaPerms come in both and long and short-haired varieties and most coat colors. Some LaPerm cats will be born with "regular" fur and never develop the curly type when they reach adulthood. Despite their unusual coat, they are easy to care for and only need a weekly combing. They also are a low shed cat most of the time although some LaPerms may occasionally shed heavily and grow in a new coat. LaPerms have a friendly, affectionate temperament and a curious, active nature.
The Maine Coon
The Maine Coon breed is not a long hair that is typically associated with luxury cats. Instead, this stalwart breed has historically adapted to severely cold climates. Maine Coons are winter and woodland cats. They are good hunters, very sturdily built, and renowned for their extremely high intelligence. The Maine Coon is also noted to be a good family cat that generally does well with children and other pets. Although the following is rarely a concern for the average American household, this breed was originally celebrated in the state of Maine for its mouse hunting abilities.
Manx or Cymric Cat
The Cymric cat is a long-haired version of the Manx cat. They are distinctive for their lack of a tail. Some people consider the Cymric a separate breed while others see them as simply a variety of the Manx breed. Like short-haired Manx cats, some Cymric cats have tails that range in length, but all are smaller than the tail of an average cat. They are big cats and despite their size, are very athletic. Cymrics are friendly cats that are generally good-natured and playful but can also be relaxed and calm. They are known for being very intelligent and are a great choice if you want to clicker train a cat to do tricks.
The Norwegian Forest Cat
The Norwegian Forest Cat takes the impressive cold-ready talents of the Maine Coon to an even higher level. These Norwegian cats come equipped with an extremely downy undercoat which, during the cold winter months, will nearly double in size. It can be quite a shock for unprepared pet owners to discover how different their Norwegians look during the spring when they shed an impressive portion of their coats. The term "forest cat" really couldn't be more appropriate since this breed's origins were drawn from the Scandinavian woodlands. This cat is ideal, even more than the Maine Coon, for families who reside in cold territories.
The Persian is notably the ideal luxury cat. Small, stout and virtually all hair, this posh little feline is a red-carpet favorite with cat associations. Persians can be bred in so many colors that the Cat Fancier's Association has allocated seven color divisions for this single breed! However, the Persian does not possess the formidable form of Maine Coons or Norwegians. This breed is an absolute indoor breed, which is at least part of the reason why Persians are considered luxury pets. Persians are not terribly athletic cats. They will not typically obtain as much amusement from kitty gyms and towers as the average cat breed. Moreover, the coat and health of a Persian require more consideration and maintenance than most other breeds, so Persians are usually better pets for smaller households with loving, attentive masters rather than large bustling families. Still, there are exceptions within this breed, and Persians that are raised by health-conscious breeders may be surprisingly sturdy and willing to acclimate to any type of household.
Pixiebobs are large cats weighing between 10 and 18 pounds although some can be larger. They come in short, medium and long hair varieties. They look very much like a "wild cat" such as a Bobcat and many breeders believe Bobcats are part of their ancestry. Pixiebobs are known as being laid back, relaxed cats that have a "dog-like" aspect. Their coat comes in either a mackerel or striped pattern. The fur is heavy with a double coat and needs regular brushing.
Ragdoll cats have long, silky hair and look very similar to a Himalayan in terms of coloring. They get their name from the way they will go limp when picked up and hang like "a ragdoll." Ragdolls are known for being sweet, loving cats who do well with children. They are also considered very docile cats who need to be kept indoors only as they would not thrive outdoors at all. Although they have long hair, they are minimal shedders and do not have an onerous grooming regimen.
Ragamuffins are the consummate sweeties within the world of domestic longhair cats. They are healthy and, despite their long plush coats, do not require anywhere near as much maintenance as the Persian. Ragamuffins, like the Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest Cat, can grow to a fairly large size. This is particularly true of the Ragamuffin males which can average anywhere between fifteen and twenty pounds. Ragamuffins make good, loving and mellow family pets. They are most often easy going, but they are also incredibly playful and robust enough to handle children.
The Scottish Fold is another breed that can be found as both short and long-haired. The long-haired version is called a "Highland Fold." Scottish Folds are distinctive for their folded ears hence their name. Long-haired Scottish Folds have full, thick coats with feathering on their feet, tail and ears and ruff. Their other distinctive features are big, round eyes that make them look like little owls. The Scottish Fold has a sweet personality and enjoy people, cats, and even dogs. Their long coat needs a few weekly combings but doesn't require much more.
Like the LaPerm, the Selkirk has a thick, curly coat and whiskers. Selkirk's are medium cats and come in both short and long-hair versions. The long-haired version of a Selkirk will have particularly thick, longer hair on their tail and around their ruff. Not all Selkirks will have curly coats either as it depends on whether a kitten has the dominant gene. The coat is soft and has earned the breed the description of "the cat in sheep's clothing." The Selkirk only needs a few brushings and combings a week to keep their coat healthy. The Selkirk is known for having an outgoing, fun-loving personality. A fun fact about the Selkirk is they are the only cat breed named after a person. Selkirk is the name of the stepfather of the breed's originator, breeder Jeri Newman.
Somali cats are the long-haired version of the Abyssinian. Like their short-haired alternative, they are often described as looking like a small fox. They are medium-size cats with a slender, lithe build. Their fur is especially fluffy on their tails and around their ruff. Although they are a long-haired cat, they do not shed every day. Somali owners can expect them to shed their coats twice a year though. Other than a daily brushing, their coat does not require much more extensive care. The Somali is an intelligent, entertaining cat and does best with an active owner who wants an engaging companion.
Next to the Maine Coon, the Siberian is one of the largest domestic cat breeds. Siberian cats hail from Russia and are considered a national treasure there. They have been described as "dog-like" and are active, athletic cats who will not be your typical quiet lap cat. They are also considered to be hypoallergenic. Their hair has three types made up of guard hair, awn hair and down which are designed to keep the cat warm during cold winters. Their fur is easy to care for and only needs one to two good brushings a week. They will also molt with when the seasons change.
The Turkish Angora, like the Van, is an ancient breed. They are lithe, graceful cats ranging between 5 and 9 pounds. Their fur is long and silky with a lovely plumed tail. Their coat during the winter months will be thicker with a full mane. You will most often see pictures of white Turkish Angoras, but they do come in many other colors and patterns. They are not heavy shedders and you can handle their grooming needs with just a combing once a week. They are known to be intelligent, outgoing cats who need active engagement and stimulation to keep them entertained.
Also called the "Van cat" the Turkish Van is a cat that loves swimming! They originated from an area of Turkey filled with lakes and they naturally enjoy playing and splashing about in water. Their long hair is resistant to water and has a cashmere-like feeling to it. Despite their luxurious appearance, they do not need a lot of grooming. The Turkish Van is an ancient breed and is energetic, dog-like cats that do best with an active household. In addition to swimming, they love climbing and will need plenty of places to roost. Their long hair comes in a few colors including black, blue, cream, and tabby and tortoiseshell patterns.
Domestic Longhair Cat Colors and Patterns
You can find the full gamut of colors and patterns among the many domestic longhair breeds. Some breeds only come in certain patterns, such as the colorpoint Himalayans and Ragdolls. Others can be found in all colors from solids to patterns like calico, tortoiseshell, tabby, and smoke.
The Maintenance Factor
Longhair cats can make amazing and impressive pets, but their coats require significantly more maintenance than the average shorthair. Brushing your longhair cat will help prevent hairballs. Regular baths and grooming can also reduce the chances for matted, sticky fur. Pet owners also need to be on the lookout for springtime shedding which can produce an immense amount of lost hair. Vacuuming regularly is essential during the shedding period. Once a pet owner adapts to the grooming routine associated with these pets, the maintenance will become second nature. Just a few minutes of daily grooming with a long tooth comb or a quality cat brush can make a world of difference in your cat's coat and keep excess hair off the floors.