Domestic Shorthair: Celebrating the Polycat

Domestic Shorthair: Celebrating the Polycat

“What greater gift than the love of a cat?” – Charles Dickens.

While the Persian and the Siamese may be the dolls and divas of the Cat World, the world’s most favorite cat has always been the purrfectly wonderful and diverse domestic cat. The domestic cat is not a recognized breed with gilded papers, but is rather a cat of mixed ancestries. Here at Basepaws, we affectionately call these diverse and captivating companions Polycats - because why do purebreds get to have all the cool names?

Basepaws is creating a unique technology that will help us better understand and distinguish between mixed-breed cats. What was known before as just a Domestic Shorthair can now be seen through a new lens. With sequencing and genetic breakthroughs, Basepaws is now able to show you how special your Polycat really is. We celebrate the mutts, the mixed-breeds, the polycats, and we are creating new ways of learning more about them!

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Who are Polycats?

Polycats are domestic cats of (yet) unknown origins. While other terms that refer to mixed breed cats of unknown origins already exist, we felt that these terms largely represented initial impressions based on physical characteristics, and were then no longer pursued. We believe that this is an unfair representation of the these cats’ unknown genetic portions which we’ve sequenced. These unknown sequences, or polycat sequences, represent opportunities to learn more about the natural selection and evolution of cats and cat breeds in the past, as well as the genetic impacts on future health.

Main features

The beauty of polycats lies in their diversity. They come in all colors, patterns, shapes, and sizes. Typically, a polycat is a medium-sized kitty of a proportional body type. They often have round heads, medium-long tails and round paws. Males are generally larger than females and have broader heads. Polycats can be short-haired or long-haired and their dense, sleek coats vividly vary in color and pattern. The main coat colors include white, black, red, grey, brown, cream, cinnamon and fawn, and some commonly observed patterns in polycats are solid, bicolor (i.e. tuxedo), tricolor (calico), color-point, tabby and tortoiseshell. To grasp more knowledge about the feline coat read our article about the Meowgical Science Behind Your Cat’s Coat. Polycats have vivid and captivating eyes which come in a multitude of beautiful colors as well, varying from shades of blue and green shades to brown and gold. With a little bit of meowgic and luck, your polycat may even sport two differently colored eyes. If this is the case, you've got yourself a very special odd-eyed cat!

Origins

A polycat is a remarkable result of many generations of mixed breeding between different types of cats, which is why the ancestry and origin of these kitties can be very difficult to determine. According to ancient feline DNA analysis, domestic cats are likely descended from the African wildcat (lat. Felis silvestris lybica) (Ottoni et al, 2017) found to be living several thousand years ago. However, most domestic breeds are less than just 100 years old - far from ancient royalty. This means that all modern domestic cats, including purebred cats (hybrids, excluded), have polycat origins. Out of all the cats in the world, according to American Humane Association, 95% are actually mixed-breed polycats! When we analyze your cat's DNA, we look for sequences your kitty has in common with the purebred cats in our database. We record the number of similarities and then use this value to determine how similar your cat's DNA is to each breed. Cats within one particular breed share more DNA with each other than with other domestic cats, but there is still a high level of diversity and variation in each breed. We mark the sequences of unclear origin as polycat sequences.

Health and care

Polycats are genetically a very diverse group of cats. A rich gene pool positively affects their health and physique. In comparison to some domestic breeds with lower genetic diversity, polycats are generally less affected by genetic diseases and disorders. Some conditions more commonly seen among the cats of this group are diabetes, chronic kidney disease, cancer, and hyperthyroidism. The average lifespan of a polycat is ten to fifteen years.

Polycats are known to enjoy their food perhaps a tad too much. These lovely companions tend to overeat, which makes them prone to obesity. Obesity will negatively affect your cat's health and can make them more susceptible to certain diseases, such as diabetes. To keep your kitty on the healthy side, make sure to feed them a high-quality diet, adequately dosed according to their needs.

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Do you know these polycat celebrities?

Being the most popular cats in the world, many delightful polycats are global celebrity sensations. Some are true icons. Do you know them all?

1. Felix the Cat. Felix the Cat is a cartoon sensation created in the silent film era. He is one of the most famous cats in the world, as well as one of the most popular cartoons.

2. Sylvester. Sylvester, the famous cat chasing Tweety Bird, is an irreplaceable Looney Toons star. Naturally, due to his popularity, Sylvester is now one of the more popular cat names as well!

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3. Figaro.Figaro is a sweet tuxedo cat who first appeared in Disney's Pinocchio. Supposedly, Figaro was actually Walt Disney's favorite character in the movie which is why he wanted Figaro featured in it as often as possible. Once Pinocchio's production was over, Walt replace Minnie Mouse's Fifi with Figaro.

4. VenusUnlike the timeless sensations above, Venus is a real-life Internet celebrity cat. Venus is famous because she is highly unique due to her face being purrfectly split into two different colors. Many believe Venus could be a Chimera, but this phenomenon could also be a result of genetic mosaicism. This is one truly mysterious and captivating cat.

5. Didga. Didga is a rescued polycat known for the many pawsome tricks she has mastered with her pet human @catmantoo. Didga and her Bengal brother Boomer, both record holders, are two most talented cats in the world. With little help from their human, Robert Dollwet, a dog and cat trainer, the two have mastered countless amazing tricks. From jumping, fetching, rolling, skateboarding and kissing, these cats are unstoppable geniuses! Watch the most amazing cat videos of this era with featuring these two sensations here!

Didga (left) with her Bengal brother Boomer (right)

The people of the world are in love with polycats, and why shouldn’t they be? Cats are endless sources of happiness regardless of their breed and ancestry. They are our purrfect life companions and, as their guardians, we want to do do everything in our power to get to know them better and provide them with the best possible care. Get to know your cat better with our Cat DNA test and help us improve cat health and science, today!

Citations:

1. Ottoni, C et al. (2017). The paleogenetics of cat dispersal in the ancient world. Nature Ecology & Evolution1.