Guide to Cat Fur, Face, and Body Types

Contemporary Extreme Siamese
Contemporary Siamese Cat Type, Heikki Siltala, catza.net

Cats span a wide range of physical types. Recognized feline body and face shapes are as follows:

    • Cobby/Compact: Round, stocky body with short legs and a broad round head, found in breeds such as the Exotic Shorthair and the Persian
    • Contemporary/Extreme Siamese: A Siamese cat with a long, slender body, long neck and legs, wide-spaced ears, a narrow triangular face with a long muzzle, and slanted eyes
    • Foreign/Oriental: A long, slim, elegant, fine-boned torso with long legs, long tapering tail, and triangular face, found in breeds such as the extreme Siamese and the Oriental Shorthair
    • Moderate: A body type somewhere between foreign and cobby
    • Modified Wedge: A slightly rounded wedge-shaped face, rather than the more extreme triangular type found in the contemporary Siamese
    • Rangy: Long and lean in both the torso and the legs
    • Traditional/Applehead Siamese: An old-style Siamese with a stockier body and rounder head than the extreme type
applehead siamese cat
Traditional Applehead Siamese Cat, HawkSpirit, Wikimedia Commons

Cat Features

There are a number of individual physical features that can be used to identify cats as belonging wholly or partially to a given breed:

    • Break: An indentation below the bridge of the nose, between the eyes, found in breeds such as the Persian and the Exotic Shorthair
    • Breeches/Britches/Pantaloons: Longer fur on the backs of the hind legs, found in breeds that arose in cold climates, such as the Siberian
    • Brush: A bushy tail like that of a fox, found in breeds such as the Turkish Van
    • Cupped Ears (Deep Ears): Ears curved to form a cuplike shape in breeds such as the Somali and Abyssinian
    • Ear Furnishings: Hairs that emerge from the centers of the ears
    • Ear Tufts: Longer fur that rises from the tips of the cat’s ears, resembling that of a lynx, found in breeds such as the Maine Coon
    • Mutton Chops: Downward-growing fur on the cheeks and below the ears that resembles mutton chop facial hair on a human male, found on breeds such as the Norwegian Forest Cat and the Pixie Bob
    • Nose Leather: The hairless skin on the tip of the nose; specific nose leather colours are associated with individual breeds (for example, the nose leather of a Russian Blue should be slate gray)
    • Paw Pads: The furless areas on the bottoms of a cat’s feet; breed standards often require specific paw pad colours (for example, The International Cat Association standard requires brown or black paw pads for Pixie-Bobs)
    • Roman Nose: A nose that has a convex arch shape, appearing in breeds such as the extreme Siamese
    • Ruff/Bib: A section of longer hair around the neck, found in breeds such as the Maine Coon
    • Stop: An abrupt change in the nose’s slope, found in breeds such as the Persian
    • Toe Tufts/Tufting: Fur tufts emerging from between the toes, found in breeds that arose in cold climates, such as the Siberian
    • Whippy Tail: A skinny, tapering tail seen in breeds such as the Siamese and Sphynx
    • Whisker Pads: The slightly rounded areas on each side of the muzzle from which the whiskers emerge; whisker pads may feature in breed descriptions (for example, the Scottish Fold is often described as having rounded whisker pads)
Selkirk Rex Cat
Selkirk Rex Cat (Curly Rex Coat Type), Heikki Siltala, catza.net

Cat Fur Types

There are a variety of different cat fur types that vary in terms of length, number of coats, and the traits of individual hairs:

    • Angora: Technically this refers only to the Turkish Angora breed, but the term is commonly used to describe all white cats with long fur
    • Awn: Insulating hairs that are coarser and longer than down hairs, but shorter and softer than guard hairs; awn hairs make up most of the visible coat
    • Domestic Longhair: A long-furred cat of mixed (purebred and domestic) or unknown parentage
    • Domestic Shorthair: A short-furred cat whose parentage is mixed or unknown
    • Double-Coated: A thick layer of down covered by a shiny layer of awn hairs to create a plush texture, found in breeds such as the American Shorthair, Manx, and Russian Blue
    • Down: Slightly wavy, short, soft undercoat
    • Feathering/Feathered: Longer fur that has a feathery appearance, often found on the tail and legs of breeds such as the Siberian
    • Guard Hairs: A protective outer layer of longer, coarser fur
    • Medium-Hair/Semi-Longhair: A cat with fur that is somewhere between a shorthair and longhair in length; examples of medium-hair breeds include the American Wirehair and the Exotic Shorthair
    • Rex: A curly or wavy coat, found in breeds such as the Selkirk Rex, Devon Rex, Cornish Rex, and LaPerm
    • Single-Coated: Having little undercoat or none at all, found in breeds such as the Siamese, Balinese, Korat, and Bombay
    • Triple-Coated: Having down, awn, and guard hairs all of a similar length, found in breeds that evolved in cold weather such as the Siberian

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