The mixed-breed cat, Felis silvestris catus, is a typical "house cat" without a pedigree. Called "moggies" in the UK, these common cats have developed due to feral and non-selective breeding. But, a lack of papers does not detract from them being beautiful and loving companion animals. Their varied shapes, sizes, coat colors, and personalities make them fascinating—and full of surprises.
Other Names: Moggy, house cat, domestic cat
Personality: Generally friendly and affectionate, though some may be less outgoing than others and activity levels vary
Weight: Up to 15 pounds
Length: Up to 25 inches
Coat Length: Short hair, long hair, or medium hair
Coat Colors: Most common colors include black, white, gray, and red (orange)
Eye Color: Gold, green, or blue
Lifespan: Up to 20 years
Origin: Middle East
Mixed-Breed Cat Characteristics
Mixed-breed cats can be short-haired, fluffy, patterned, or tailless, depending on their lineage, which is often a mystery since it's difficult—if not impossible—to trace the ancestry of the average cat.
While some indications of temperament can be gleaned from physical characteristics derived from a cat's ancestry, the personality of a mixed-breed cat can vary widely from shy and reclusive (like a Russian blue) to outgoing and personable (like a Siamese).
Mixed-breed cats also come in a variety of sizes and weights, from petite 7-pounders to double-digit hunks. Again, it depends on the genetics that dominate the cat's lineage.
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History of the Mixed-Breed Cat
Domestic cats have a rich history. Cats are believed to have first been domesticated in the Middle East when humans developed agriculture (estimated 12,000 years ago). Cats served to keep rodents away from stored grain. They were considered sacred by the Egyptians and mummified with their owners. A 9,000-year-old grave on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus revealed a cat buried with a human, presumably due to being a companion animal.
Domestic cats spread throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa but were unknown in the Americas or Australia until European explorers transported them. Cats were part of sailing life (for rodent control), and these far-ranging ships introduced cats to the New World.
Biologically, a mixed-breed cat is a cross between cats of two or more different breeds. Many pure breeds have been developed by breeding mixed-breed cats with specific desirable characteristics
Mixed-Breed Cat Care
Most cats are self-cleaning and fastidious by nature. Brush your cat as needed to help reduce matting and prevent hairballs, particularly in long-haired cats. Trim your cat's nails every two to three weeks and provide a scratching post. If your cat allows it, brush its teeth regularly. Cats will usually need dental cleanings by a veterinarian.
Indoor-only cats have the longest lifespans. For example, indoor cats can live up to 14 to 20 years; meanwhile, the average lifespan for an outdoor cat is 3 to 10. When outdoors, cats can be exposed to infections from other animals, get into gruesome fights, get attacked by predators, or may get run over by vehicles. Outdoor cats can also cause injury or death to birds and other wildlife.
Indoor cats need a litter box in a quiet area. Be sure to clean the box at least once a week completely. Using clumping litter and scooping out the clumps daily can keep things tidy.
Your indoor cat also needs plenty of chances to play and chase toys, but cats like lots of sleep and cat naps, so provide a comfortable bed and other places around your living area where your cat can lounge and retreat.
Cats have a wide variety of personalities, ranging from standoffish to clingy. Early socialization with various people can help a cat be less timid around newcomers. Cats often do well with other cats and cat-friendly dogs, especially if raised together. However, domestic cats still have predatory instincts for rodents, birds, and fish, whether or not they are pets. It's best to keep those animals safely away from your cat.
Common Health Problem
Mixed breeds are generally healthier than pure breeds since they are not prone to breed-specific diseases. Of course, no cat is 100 percent risk-free from health concerns. The American Society for the Prevention of the Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) lists the following diseases as the most prevalent among all cats:
- Cancer: Usually found in older cats; lymphoma is a common cat cancer
- Diabetes: cats that are obese, male, and older are at the highest risk
- Feline immunodeficiency virus: spread from cat to cat when they fight and incur deep bites
- Feline leukemia: a virus that damages the immune system and makes cats more susceptible to developing blood cancer (a vaccine is available)
Spay or neuter your pet by age 5 months if you do not intend to breed your cat. Be sure to stay up-to-date on veterinary visits and vaccinations to prevent common and serious problems.
Mixed-breed cats can possess any color or pattern seen in purebred cats, or they may show a combination of colors and patterns. They can have short or long hair and be small or large. If variety is the spice of life, as the old adage says, then mixed-breed cats certainly make pet owners' lives more interesting and fulfilling!
Diet and Nutrition
Cats are naturally carnivores and require a sufficient amount of the amino acid taurine in their diets. A wet food diet is often considered best to provide nutrition and hydration, but you can leave out dry food for your cat to snack on as well. Provide fresh, clean water for your cat at all times.
It is good to monitor your cat's weight and take steps to prevent excess weight gain, which can shorten your pet's lifespan. Discuss your cat's needs with your veterinarian, especially if your cat has diabetes, is obese, or is older.
Where to Adopt or Buy a Mixed-Breed Cat
The best places to find mixed-breed cats and kittens are adoption shelters where countless homeless cats of all colors and personalities await loving families. The ASPCA states, "Approximately 6.3 million companion animals enter US animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.2 million are cats."
Mixed-Breed Cat Overview
Mixed-breed cats make marvelous companions for most people, whether they live alone or with families. If you're not looking for a very specific shape, color, or temperament in a cat, then the surprises offered by a "moggy" are nothing but delightful.
Even, if your cat resembles a known cat breed, you will not be able to enter it in a cat show as a specific breed (papers are required). But, in cat shows that allow mixed breeds, these cats are shown in the Household Pets or Domestic Cats classes.
Various beautiful colors, patterns, and personalities
Generally healthy and robust
Lower cost than pure breeds
Genetic health problems are usually unknown so cannot be treated early
Behavioral characteristics are not guaranteed
Cannot be entered in most cat shows
More Cat Breeds and Further Research
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Otherwise, check out all of our other cat breed profiles.
Are mixed-breed cats friendly?
While they can have a variety of personalities, mixed-breed cats raised with loving owners are almost always friendly.
What is a moggy?
A moggy is a mixed-breed cat without purebred parents or any pedigree.
Do mixed-breed cats live longer?
Mixed-breed cats are generally healthier and longer-lived than pure breeds because they do not have the genetic problems associated with selective over-breeding.