If you are interested in cats, then you will obviously have noticed that there are no extreme differences between various cat breeds. From a purebred Persian cat to an Abyssinian to a simple street cat, all cat breeds have more or less the same physical sizes and features.
There are very few subtle differences between different cat breeds. However, once you enter the canine world, you will see dogs of literally every size, shape, and color. Dogs can be half your height or fit into your purse; the variation is so great! So what is the reason why dogs look so different, but cat breeds do not?
When it comes to purebred dogs, there are humungous differences between them. For instance, mastiffs are a particular breed that can weigh a whopping 45 kgs and are extremely strong. Great Danes have long, lean bodies. Some cuter dogs, such as Chihuahuas and Shih Tzus, are cute and small and can even fit into your purse as well! This shows that there is a whole spectrum in terms of height, weight, size, and strength that canine breeds can vary across.
In the feline world, however, the differences between cat breeds are nuanced and subtle. The British shorthair, for instance, is the purebred version of the good old British house cat. It is stocky, has an extremely dense coat, and has a very broad face. The ragdoll is one of the relatively new cat breeds which originated in 1960.
These cute and affectionate cats are famous for their bright blue eyes, which are the first thing, that you see when you look at them. Another famous cat breed is the Bengal cat which is extremely large in size and has spots on its cat as a leopard does. The Bengal cat is a mix of numerous breeds, which is why it has the characteristics of different types of cats.
However, even though we have listed some of the more famous cat breeds for you, when you look at them, the differences between them are relatively subtle. The difference in cat breeds comes from the difference in their colors, the density of their coats, the shape of their ears and noses. However, their size and height are more or less the same.
How many species of cats and dogs are there?
There are numerous cat breeds out there. As per the Cat Fancier’s Association, there are 42 cat breeds recognized in the USA. Statistics from the World Canine Organization have told us that there are 340 breeds of dogs all over the world.
This difference in the number of breeds is indicative of how much more diverse the canine world is as compared to the feline world. Even within these 42 cat breeds, however, we do not witness the same level of difference in physical attributes amongst them. So what could be the reasons for this?
The historical process of domestication
Cats and dogs are not the enemies that cartoons make them out to be. Evidence from Russia actually even suggests that cats and dogs have been working in harmony for the last few thousand years. However, the major difference between cats and dogs is that dogs were tamed almost 19,000 years ago.
However, cats tamed about 10,000 years ago. This shows that dogs had a 9000-year head start over them and worked with humans for much longer. This is why the process of selectively breeding like dogs with like dogs started much earlier, and the differences amongst them became more pronounced than in cats.
The process of selective breeding is where the whole story turns. The answer to why cat breeds look similar but dog breeds do not lie in the selective breeding process. In this way of breeding, like categories of animals are bred with like animals so as to maintain the purity of their line and accentuate any quality that is specifically found in that particular breed. Dogs have always been open to supporting from humans and have proven themselves useful. For instance, they can look after sheep and guard property.
In older days, these qualities were extremely important, and therefore the dogs that were best in these qualities were only made to breed with each other leading to very specific dog breeds.
However, cats were not able to give such specific benefits, which is why no special attention was given to their selective breeding. In fact, it was only in the early 1900s that cats were bred selectively because of which extremely diverse cat breeds have not been seen.
The drawbacks of selective breeding
However, the process of selective breeding amongst cats and dogs has numerous drawbacks. This is because when you only make one breed mate amongst themselves, you not only accentuate their good qualities; you also accentuate and exaggerate any natural deficiencies in them.
For instance, when poodles are bred with other poodles, the gene that gives them their dark coat also makes them more prone to catching squamous cell carcinoma. This is why scientists are trying to find more ways in which they can breed cats and dogs but minimize the risk associated with it.
What are the key takeaways?
The key take away from this discussion is that while cat breeds do differ, the differences in size and shape are not as big as the differences between dog breeds. The reason for this is the historical process of domestication. The process of domestication of dogs has always moved with the help of human beings. This is why the process of dog breeding and specialized training begun much early on than for cats.
Cat breeds developed on their own, and they have never been much to take help from human beings. This is why cat breeds, at least initially evolved more or less on their own, and the differences found between them are the natural ones found from cross-breeding. The process of especially making cat breeds has begun only recently.
We hope that now you understand why cat breeds are not that different, but dog breeds are. The answer lies in the process of selective breeding. However, if you are a cat lover, you can easily differentiate amongst them, even if it is on the basis of smaller differences.