On English Domestic Cats



The substance of the foregoing remarks may be epitomised as follows:–

  • 1The characters used by breeders and fanciers as a basis for their so-called breeds of English Domestic Cats have no scientific value, in the sense of affording a clue to affinity and descent.
  • 2The pattern–or, in other words, the arrangement of the stripes–shows that English Domestic Oats are referable to two distinct types, whether they belong to the “Manx,”“Persian,” or “Short-haired” breeds.
  • 3These two types of pattern are different in kind and do not intergrade. They are so distinct from each other that no one would hesitate to regard them as characterising two well-marked species if the animals presenting them existed in a wild as opposed to a domesticated state.
  • 4In one type of pattern the stripes take the form of narrow transverse or vertical bands which sometimes break up into spots. To feral or domesticated examples of this Cat have been given many names, of which torquata is the best known and angorensis or striata possibly the oldest.
  • 5This Cat (torquata) was apparently domesticated in Europe at least as early as the 16 th century. There seems to be no reason therefore for regarding it as of Indian origin.
  • 6It closely resembles in pattern two existing species, namely, the so-called Egyptian Cat (F. ocreata) and the European Wild Cat (F. sylvestris), both of which occur at the present day in the Mediterranean Region, and are very nearly related to each other. There is no difficulty in the way of believing that they are the ancestral forms or “agriotypes” of this domesticated race (torquata).
  • 7In the other type of pattern the stripes take the form of broad longitudinal or obliquely longitudinal bands forming a ring-like or spiral arrangement on the sides of the abdomen. To domesticated examples of this Cat, Linnseus gave the name catus, which cannot be applied to any other form of the genus Felis. Domestica is its best-known synonym.
  • 8This Cat (catus) is certainly known to have been domesticated in Europe in the middle of the 18th century. It was not, however, apparently known in India in the middle of the 19th century. Probably, therefore, it is of European descent.
  • 9Its origin is unknown. Of the several hypotheses that may be held on this subject perhaps the following two are the most to be commended:–that it arose as a sudden variation or sport from the torquata-breed, in which case European Domestic Cats are dimorphic in pattern; that it is the direct descendant of some extinct Pleistocene Cat, in which case there are two distinct species of Domestic Cat in Europe.