The Premier Online Magazine About Breeding & Showing Cats

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The Premier Online Magazine About
Breeding & Showing Cats

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The Premier Online Magazine About
Breeding & Showing Cats

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Glossary of Definitions of Cat Terms for the Cat Breeder

-- A --

ACFAAmerican Cat Fanciers Association Originating in 1955, ACFA has grown to be one of the world's largest cat organizations. ACFA is known as the Fairest, Friendliest and most Fun feline association! Our goal is to promote the welfare, education, knowledge and interest in all domesticated, purebred and non-purebred cats, to breeders, owners, exhibitors of cats and the general public.

Acute disease: A rapidly progressing illness.

Adult cat: A cat eight months or older.

Afterbirth: Expelled after the delivery of each newborn kitten, this matter consists of fluids and membranes that surround kittens in the uterus.

Agouti: Cat color that results from each individual hair follicle having contrasting bands of color.

Ailurophile: A Cat Loving Person

Ailurophobe: A person that hates cats.

Albino: A white cat because it lacks melanin pigmentation.
Allergy: A reaction resulting from exposure to a certain allergen.

Allowable outcross: A cat that is allowed by a cat registry to be mated to another breed of cat in order to produce a kitten with certain favorable characteristics. The Abyssinian, for example, is an allowable outcross for the Somali.

Alopecia: Bald area that normally has hair.

Alter: a spayed or neutered cat.

Amino acids: The molecular building blocks of proteins that are essential for good nutrition.

Anestrus:  The condition of not being in season for a female cat.
Antibiotic: A substance that is derived from a living organism and is used to inhibit the growth of bacteria.

Antidote: A substance which neutralizes a poison.
AOC (Any Other Color):  Non-recognized accepted color or pattern in a certain breed of cat.
AOV (Any Other Variety): Cat Association term to classify cats that are offsprings of registered parents but are not eligible entering championship cat show classes because they do not have the official requirements for coat color, coat length or other physical characteristics.

Asthma: A condition of the respiratory system that causes difficult breathing.
Asymptomatic: Exhibiting no symptoms of a disease.
Auto-immune disease: The body's own defense mechanisms attacks normal tissues.

Awn hairs: The part of the cats undercoat that is longer than the downy undercoat but shorter than the primary guard coat.
Awry: Crooked jaw formation.

-- B --

Back crossing: Inbreeding where a cat is mated with a parent.

Barring: Markings of a Tabby cat .

Base coat: The primary coat.

Benched: An area where a cat is kept and displayed when it is not being judged.

Benching cage: Show hall cage where a cat is kept and displayed when it is not being judged.

Best in Show: Most points and winner of a championship.

Best of Breed: A cat, which in the judge's opinion, comes closest to meeting the breed standard among all other competing cats of that breed.

Bi-color: Cat color basically white with large patches another solid color.

Blaze: Stripe or splash of white on the cat's forehead or nose. (In blue cream and tortoiseshell cats, a blaze is a vertical division of two colors (usually half red and half black) running down the middle of the face. Checkerboard is the term used when this pattern is reversed on the cat's chin. )

Bloodline: The pedigree for a cat of a specific cattery.

Blue-cream lynx point: Colorpoints that are a mixture of blue and cream with an undercoat tabby pattern.

Blue/Blue Point: Color of a coat that is gray with a blue cast.

Blue-cream: Blue with cream.

Booster vaccination: A follow-up Injection that is periodically after the primary injection to continue immunity to a disease.

Bracelets: Dark stripes on the legs of a tabby patterned cats.

Break: Indentation on the bridge of the nose occurring between or near to the point between the eyes.

Breech birth: Hind end of the cat comes out first instead of the head.

Breed: Cats sharing common ancestors and similar physical characteristics.

Breed council: Cat association members who are actively involved in exhibiting and breeding cats of a specific breed.

Breed ribbon: An award for "Best of Breed" in each ring.

Brindling: Different colored hairs in a coat.

Britches: Longer hair on the upper rear area of the legs.

Bronze: Egyptian Mau color characterized by a base color rich warm red with darker spotting and ticking.

Brush tail: Long bushy hair.

Bulls eye: A mark found on the sides of the body of classic (blotched) tabby pattern cats that is characterized by a solid, circular spot of darker coloring surrounded by a ring of darker coloring.

Butterfly: Mark found on the shoulders of classic (blotched) tabby cat that resembles a butterfly.

-- C --

Calico: Cat color characteristic for female cats with patches of white, red and black.

Cameo: A type of cat color that has a white base with red on the outer part of the hair shaft. 

Cardiomyopathy: Genetically linked heart defect that causes heart failure.

Carnivore: Animal primarily eating meat.

Carrier: A cat carrying a genetic defect or disease.

Castration: Removal of testicles in a male cat. (Neutering)

Cataract: Clouding growth on the cat's lens on the eyeball.

Cat Association: An organization for the promotion of cats, cat breeds, cat shows and cat health.

Cat fancy: People who fancy cats and are involved in breeding, showing of cats and cat clubs.

Catnip: (nepeta cataria) A plant of the mint family and acts as a hallucinogen to cats.

Cattery: A place where cats are bred or boarded.

Cattery name: The name of a cattery and a prefix for a cat¹s registered name.

CCACanadian Cat Association/Association Feline Canadienne - includes registry of purebred cats, listing cat shows, show schedules, and Canadian breeders

CFA: Cat Fanciers Association -  the Cat Fanciers' Association, the world's largest registry of pedigreed cats!

CFFCat Fanciers' Federation.

Champagne: Rich soft beige color found in the Burmese breed.

Champion: A title that is earned by a cat after accumulating a certain number of winner's points in cat shows. Considered as the first step towards becoming a Grand Champion. Some cat associations require six "winners" ribbons for championship while others require a cat to "final".

Championship finals: Top ten pedigreed adult cats are awarded rosettes in the judging ring.

Championship status: Cats of a certain breed become eligible to compete for championship titles.

Cherry eye: Prolapsed gland of the third eyelid.

Chestnut: Solid warm brown color of cat.

Chinchilla: Cat that is white at the base with a small amount of darker color on the tips. 

Chocolate-lynx point: Medium chocolate brown coat with an underlying tabby pattern.

Chocolate tortie point: Points primarily medium chocolate brown with additional tortoiseshell colors.

Chromosomes: Cell elements that control inherited characteristics.

Chronic disease: An indefinitely disease

Cinnamon: Rich dark brownish red color.

Classic tabby: Tabby pattern with swirls and blotches of darker color over a lighter base color. 

Closed Cattery: A cattery that does not offer stud service.

Coarse: A cat not refined or harmonious in conformation. Considered a negative term.

Cobby: Short body, broad, heavy boned and low on the legs.(Persian or Manx)

Colitis: Inflammation of the large intestine.

Color class: Divisions created by cat associations to classify certain types of coat colors or patterns, such as shaded colors or parti-color.

Colorpoint:  A "pointed" color pattern cat such as a Siamese or Himalayan where the cat's face, ears, tail and legs are a darker color than the body.

Colostrum: Milk secreted by the mother during the first few days following birth that provides the kittens with immunity to some diseases.

Concaveation: Spayed female cat produces milk in response to the suckling of a kitten.

Condition: Well being of a cat, including muscle toning, grooming and good health.

Conformation: Structure of a cat's body, legs and tail.

Congenital: Any trait or condition that exists from birth. it may or may not be hereditary.

CPC: Color Point Carrier

Cream: Diluted version of red and that appears as a pale beige color.

Cream-lynx point: Points that are cream to pale red with an underlying tabby pattern.

Cross: Mating or breeding one cat with another.

Cryptorchid: A male with one or both testicles undescended.

Cyst: A swelling which contains fluid other than pus.

Cystitis: Inflammation of the bladder.

-- D --

Dam: Female parent 

Dander: Scales of dead skin can cause an allergic reaction in humans.

Declawed: Surgically removing claws. Not allowed to enter competition.

Dehydration: Loss of water from the tissues.

Demodex: A mite that can cause mange.

Dermatitis: Inflammation of the skin.

Dew claw: The first digit found on the inside of the leg above the front paws.

Dilute: A paler version of a primary color. The dilute of black is blue and the dilute of red is cream.

Division: A cat show term that signifies a subdivision consisting of two or more color classes. 

DNA: Chemical substance that makes up chromosomes.

Domestic: A nonpedigreed cat.

Dominant: The prevailing gene member of a gene pair.

Doming: The rounded part of the head between the ears.

Down hairs: The shortest hair on the cat, soft and downy.

Dysplasia: Abnormal development of a part of the cats body.

-- E --

Ear furnishings: Tufts of hair that grow in and around the ears. .

Ear mites: Tiny insects that feed on the lining of the ear canal.

Ebony: Black.

Eclampsia: Disease can appear in late pregnancy or shortly after giving birth. It causes loss of consciousness, convulsions often leading  to death. Caused by calcium deficiency.

Electrolyte: Vital minerals that are present in body fluids.

Embryo: An undeveloped fetus.

Enteritis: Intestine inflammation caused by bacterial infection.

Enzymes: Chemical substances that are formed within living cells that allow for biochemical reactions.

Epidermis: Outer layer of the skin.

Estrus: Being in heat. A period of varying length where a female cat produces a watery secretion from the genital tract and is sexually receptive to male cats. If mated, she will ovulate. 

Euthanasia: Humanely ending a cat¹s life. .

External parasite: Organisms such as ticks and mites that affect the outside areas of the body.

-- F --

Fawn: Pale beige color.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV): Virus that attacks the cat's immune system.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP): A coronavirus infection of the membrane lining the abdominal cavity. This disease leads to death.

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV): A virus that causes one of the most lethal infectious diseases found in cats. It is directly and indirectly the cause of many feline illnesses including cancer of the lymphocytes.

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD): Urinary tract disease causing urethral blockage and kidney stone formation.

Feline Urologic Syndrome (FUS): A disease of the urinary tract often responsible for blockage of the urethra in male cats. Life threatening.

Feral: Cats living in the wild.

Fetus: Unborn kitten that has developed to the point where it is no longer considered an embryo.

Fever: Temperature in cats that is over 102 °.

Fillers: Material that is added to pet food in order to increase volume.

Follicle: The part of the skin from which hair grows. 

Fracture: Break a bone.

Fungicidal: A product that prevents the growth of fungi.

Fungus: A primitive form of plant life that can be parasitic for example a ringworm.

-- G --

Gastric: Stomach. 

Gene pool: Total of all the genes, dominant and recessive, that exist in a certain breed of cat.

Genes: The individual hereditary units that control growth, development and the physical characteristics of a cat. They are found in specific locations on a chromosome.

Genetics: The science of heredity.

Genotype: Total of all the genes that a kitten inherits from its parents, recessive and dominant.

Gestation: Period of pregnancy. Cat pregnancy lasts between sixty-three and sixty-nine days.

Ghost markings: Faint tabby striping or spots on a kitten's coat that disappear with maturity.

Gingivitis: Inflammation of the gums.

Gloves: Solid colored markings, usually white, on the forepaws of a cat.

Grand champion: This title is earned by a cat after it is already a champion but continues to win points. Either by qualifying for a specified number of finals or by defeating other cat champions. Point calculations differ from one association to the next.  CFA rules say that a cat has to win 200 points and defeat other champion cats.  ACFA says that a cat must win 4 championship ribbons and receive 6 rosettes. TICA rules say that a cat must be a champion already and have 6 finals collected a thousand points.

Grooming powder: A chalk-like powder used in grooming to give volume, separate the cat's hair and/or enhance the color.

Ground color: Hair color that is closest to the body.

Guard hairs: The longest, outer hairs of the cat's coat.

-- H --

Harlequin Bi-Color Pattern: Predominantly white cat with several patches of color scattered on the body.

Heat: This is the period when a female cat is interested in mating and can become pregnant.

Hemorrhage: Internal bleeding. 

HHP: Household Pet.

Histamines: Chemicals released by the body when antibodies encounter an allergen. These chemicals cause the familiar allergic reactions such as sneezing and watery eyes.

Household pet: Domestic or purebred cat that is not registered and is a pet. Household pets can compete in special categories in cat shows.

Hip dysplasia:  Hip socket malformation causing crippling in cats. 

Hock: Cat's back legs joint similar to the human ankle. 

Hormone: Substance that is produced in a particular region of the body carried by the blood and exerts influence on another area of the body.

Hybrid: Result of the mating cats of different breeds,or more than two breeds.

Hybrid vigor: Increased vitality resulting from breeding cats of two different breeds together.

Hyperthermia: Increased body temperature that can result from heat stroke.

-- I --

IM: Intramuscular (injections)

Immune response: Reaction to infection in the body.

Immunization: Helping with artificial resistance to infection.

Inbreeding: Mating of  related cats.

Incontinence: Inability to control urine or defecation.

Incubation Period: Time between exposure to a disease and the time the disease shows symptoms in the infected cat.

Inflammation: Changes that occur in tissue after an injury followed by pain, swelling and redness.

Inherited: Characteristic which are the result of genetic influences.

Injection: H hypodermic needle to give medicine.

Internal Parasites: Larvae and worms that are living off the host cat's meals or its blood.

IV: Intravenous (injections)

-- J --

Jacobsens Organ: A sensing organ in the top of the cat¹s mouth involved in smell and taste.

Judging Cage: Cages in the judging area.

-- K --

Kitten: A young cat between four and eight months.

-- L --

Lavender: Cat fur color gray with a pinkish cast.

Lilac-Cream Point: Points that are a mixture of lilac and cream.

Lilac-Cream Lynx Point: Points that are a mixture of lilac and cream with an underlying tabby pattern.

Lilac-Lynx Point: Points that are gray with a pinkish cast and that have an underlying tabby pattern.

Lilac Point: Points that are gray with a pinkish cast.

Line Breeding: Mating related cats that have a common ancestor appearing at least one time in the first three generations of both parent's pedigrees.

Litter: Kittens born by the same mother at the same time.

Litter: Absorbent material used in a cat's box.

Litter Registration: Registering a litter of kittens with a cat association.

Luxating patella: Genetically transmitted problem that causes the knee cap to slip when the joint is moved. Can cause lameness.

Lynx point: Colorpoints that have an underlying tabby pattern.

Lynx tufts: Hair furnishings on the tips of the ears.

-- M --

Mackerel: A tabby characterized by vertical stripes like a fish bone pattern.

Mask: Darker colored area on the face of the cat.

Meezer: Slang term for a Siamese cat.

Melanin: Dark pigment produced by the body which give color to the skin, hair and eyes.

Metabolism: Physical and chemical processes that take place in a living being. 

Mitted: White feet.

Modified Wedge: A type of head that is triangular shaped and not as extreme as a  wedge.

Monorchid: Male cat with one testicle.

Mutation: Genetic accident that alters certain genetic characteristics.

-- N --

Natural breed: Breed without the interference of selective breeding. 

Neuter: Castrate a male cat by removing the testicles so it can't reproduce.

Nictating Membrane: Third eyelid that a cat can pull across its eye for additional protection.

-- O --

Odd-Eyed: Each eye has a different color.

Outcross: Breeding of two cats together that don't have an ancestors in common for a minimum of three generations.

Overshot Jaw: The lower jaw that stands out abnormally.

-- P --

Parasite: Organism that lives off of another one, drinking blood or by living in the digestive tract.

Patched tabby: Cats that are any of the tabby patterns (classic, mackerel, ticked or spotted) with patches of red coloring.

Pathogen: Organism that is capable of causing a disease.

Parti-color: A color division for cats at cat shows that usually includes bi-colors, tortoiseshells and tortie and whites. In any case, the cat must have a solid block of color with additional colors although the specific definition varies between cat associations.

Pedigree: Document outlining names, titles, colors and registration numbers of a cat's ancestors. At least three to five generations.

Pericarditis: An inflammation of the membrane covering the heart.

Peritonitis: An inflammation of the membrane covering the abdominal cavity. Also referred to as periodontal disease.

Phenotype: Visible characteristics of a cat's genetic make-up.

Piebald: Basic white pattern with areas of color.

Pigment: Coloration.

Pinking up: Nipples turn pink if the cat is pregnant about three weeks after mating. 

Placenta: Organ that allows the exchange of oxygen, food and waste material between a mother cat and a fetus.

Platinum: A silvery-beige color.

Pointed: Coat pattern in cats with a paler body color hand with contrasting darker colors on the face, ears, tail and legs.

Points: The darker colored areas of a pointed cat.

Premier: A registered neutered or spayed pedigreed cat.

Progeny: the offspring of an individual.

Provisional: Class at cat shows for cat breeds that have not yet been accepted for championship status by a particular cat association.

Purebred: A cat whose ancestors are of the same breed or are allowable outcrosses.

-- Q --

Quarantine: Time in which a cat is isolated from other cats in order to prevent the possible spread of a disease.

Queen: Female cat used for breeding purposes.

Quick: Vein that runs through a cat's claw.

-- R --

Rangy: Long body.

Recessive: Gene not expressed unless both members of a specific gene pair are recessive.

Red:  Cat color.

Red-Lynx Point: Colorpoints that are reddish orange with underlying tabby patterns.

Registry: Cat association registers cats, issue registration numbers, determine breed standards, license cat shows,  and license cat show judges.

Renal: Relating to the kidneys.

Renal Amyloidosis: Genetically linked kidney condition which causes kidney failure.

Rex: Type of coat with no guard hairs but a soft and curly undercoat. .

Ringworm: Contagious skin disease caused by a fungus.

Roman nose: Nose type with an arch and low set nostrils. 

Ruddy: Dark ginger-red color.

Ruff: Collar-like fringe of hair around the neck.

-- S --

Sable: Dark-brown cat color.

SC: Subcutaneous - under the skin. Also SQ

Sclera: White portion of the eyeball.

Seal-Lynx Point: Dark, nearly black points with underlying tabby pattern.

Seal Point: Dark points, nearly black.

Seal-Tortie Lynx Point: Dark points, nearly black with tortoiseshell coloring and an underlying tabby pattern.

Seal-Tortie Point: Primarily dark points, nearly black with an underlying tortoiseshell color pattern.

Selective breeding: Intentional mating of two cats in order to achieve a trait or to eliminate a trait.

Self: Cat that is of one solid color from the base to the tip of the hair shaft.

Semi-foreign body: Cat body type that is long and tubular but not as extreme as a cat with a foreign or oriental body type.

Set type: Breeding term to describe the process of breeding successive generations of cats with certain characteristics in hopes of producing cats that will possess the trait and also be able to pass it along to their offspring.

Shaded: Cat that is white at the base with the darker color starting half way down the hair shaft and extending to the tip.

Silver: Cat color usually the result of a white coat with black ticking.

Single coat: One coat, usually the top coat or guard hairs, without the downy undercoat.

Sire: Male parent of a kitten. 

Slinky: Slang term for a cat breed that is long and slender like a Siamese or Oriental.

Smoke: Cat color which is white at the base and with darker coloring covering most of the hair shaft.

Solid:  One color cat.

Spay: Female cat which has been sterilized through a surgical procedure.

Spontaneous mutation: Genetic accident that permanently alters certain genetic characteristics.

Spotting: White areas in the coat.

Spotting factor: Gene causing white spotting in the cat's coat.

SQ: Subcutaneous - under the skin. Also SC

Stop: Indentation on the bridge of the nose, usually between the eyes.

Stud: Breeding male cat.

-- T --

Tabby: Coat pattern which is either striped or mackerel, blotched or classic, spotted, or ticked  or agouti. 

Taurine: An amino acid which a cat has to get in a diet for good eyesight.

Ticking: Darker tips of hair on the ends of the coat hairs.

TICAThe International Cat Association.

Tom Cat: Unaltered male cat.

Tortie: Also called tortoiseshell. Usually a female. The coat colors are cream, red and blank intermingled together.

Tortie Point: Colorpoints that include a tortoiseshell color pattern.

Tuck up: Underbelly of a cat, curving up into the haunches.

Tufts: Hair on the tips of the ears and or between the  cats toes.

-- U --

Umbilical hernia: Hernia of fat and sometimes the intestines in the region of the naval.

Undercoat: Soft and downy hairs next to the skin.

Undershot jaw: Upper jaw protruding abnormally.

-- V --

Variety: A cat that has registered parents but is not eligible for championship status because it does not conform to the breed standard.

Vascular: Pertaining to the blood vessels.

-- W --

Weaning: Kittens learn to eat food, not depending on the milk of their mother.

Wedge: Head type that has triangular shaped dimensions.

Wegie: Slang Term for Norwegian Forest Cat

White: Cat color that lacks pigmentation.

Wry Bite: Crooked jaw formation.

-- Z --

Zoonosis: Cat disease that can be contracted by humans.