My Pet World: Persians still reign as most popular cats in America

March 22, 2011|By Steve Dale

As the Labrador retriever is the most popular dog breed in America (according to American Kennel Club registration statistics), the Persian is our most popular pedigreed cat.

The Cat Fanciers' Assn. (CFA) recently announced annual registration numbers for 2010. It so happens that CFA President Jerry Hanza has been a Persian cat breeder for 15 years.

"Persians are clearly good friends, they want to be with their people. Mine enjoy my lap while watching the (New York) Jets games," says Hanza.


Persians have held the title as America's top cat since the 1970s.

"Of course, they know how beautiful they are," says Joan Miller, CFA vice president and chair of outreach and education. "Persians are just glorious. Some are so beautiful they can make your heart stop. They enjoy being groomed, which is required for Persians, and often purr while we brush them." Miller says that when she had Persians, she found brushing them therapeutic.

The Maine Coon has been the second or third most popular cat breed since the 1990s, and now stands at No. 2. Miller suggests that Maine Coons' ability to live well with others plays a role in their popularity, since an increasing number of cat homes (well over a third) also have a canine, and most homes with a cat actually have at least two cats.

"They're big and bold," says Miller. "Some men want a macho cat." Still, despite their imposing appearance (tipping the scales at about 20 pounds), Maine Coon cats are particularly gentle and a good choice for children.

No. 3 on the popularity list goes to a breed called the Exotic.

"An Exotic is pretty much a Persian cat with short hair," says Hanza. "A good choice for people who like the Persian laid-back personality but don't want to deal with the grooming." Their coats have a fuzzy texture, with a unique, soft feel.

Since 2006, the Ragdoll has been in the CFA top-10, but never before as high as their current rank at No. 4. The name derived from their being so affectionate; they relax like ragdolls in the laps of their favorite people.

"Though not as long as a Persian's, they have a lovely, long coat," says Miller, who's been an all-breed judge for 29 years. Ragdolls come in many colors, and tall have blue eyes.

The Sphynx peaked this year at No. 5 on the CFA list. Though many people still aren't familiar with the name, they do know Mr. Bigglesworth from the Austin Powers movies. Since first appearing on the big screen in 1997, this hairless cat has climbed in popularity.

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