A cat does not have to have an impressive pedigree to bring feline quality into our lives.
Non pedigreed cats with unknown parentage can have just as much grace and beauty as the finest show specimens. However, as there are endless possible combinations of sire and dam in a non pedigreed ancestry, the apperance and character of what emerges is something of a lottery.
An ordinary Cat
Non pedigreed cats, also known as household pets, domestic cats or random bred, are the most common cats kept as pets. Fewer than five per cent of pet cats have a pedigree.
Acquiring a non pedigree is far easier and cheaper than buying a purebred cat. Rescue organizations and humane societies are overflowing with animals all ready to make ideal companions, and some are as beautiful as their purebred equivalents. It is unlikely that such a cat will cost more than a donation to the society and the cost of vaccinations.
The disadvantage of having a non pedigreed animal is that you invariably do not know what you are getting, whereas a quality guarantee comes with a pedigree. Because of their mixed ancestry, non pedigrees are usually intelligent and affectionate, but a bad character gene could slip in.
Both pedigreed and pet cats have common ancestors in the domesticated cat. However, the pedigree American Wirehair Cat has evolved as a result of selective breeding, while the pet cat conforms to no special standards except those dictated by evolutionary pressures and the need to survive.
Non pedigreed cats may have coats of any length and in a range of colors that are usually plain, blotched, striped or patched. Cats of one color are less common than tabbies, bi-colors and tortoiseshells, and may indicate an unplanned mating with a pedigreed partner. Eyes are usually green or yellow and the majority of nonppedigreed noses are fairly long. If your bank balance cannot stretch to the cost of a maine coon cat or norwegian forest cat, the well whiskered, soft ginger semi longhair might suffice.
Off the street options
You could, literally, pick your non pedigree up off the street. Non neutered (unaltered) mongrel cats roam all over the place, breeding prolifically. The resulting unwanted litters add to a population of feral cats, those that have been born in the wild or that have reverted to the wild state.
Some, line those found by the hundred on greek islands, tread a fine line between wildness and domesticity. Such cats present enormous problems for rescue organizations (if they exist), but have the potential for providing all the qialities looked for in the pet cat. They can be socialized, but the owner has to spend as much time with the cat as possible, particularly during the first few weeks. Medical examination and inoculations are also particularly important. Would you like a very expensive white persian or baliness, or would the extraordinarily pretty non pedigreed longhaired white do just as well?
For something a little more refined, you could go for a cat that only just misses being a pedigree. In one tiny, isolated community, there was only one local unneutered (unaltered) tom, which was clearly the sire of a litter produced by a neighboring purebred Lilac Point siamese queen. Four of her kittens were lilac pointed (albeit with slightly longer, coarser hair than their pedigreed mother), and the fifth looked like a black oriental shorthair. Nonetheless, they were all non pedigree. Fortunately, they had inherited the best of their mother’s oriental looks and their father’s robust health and character.
Other non pedigrees have known ancestry too. Farm cats may have bred for generations. Some kittens would be selected and kept because they were prettier, more intelligent, or had better mouse catching potential than others. If the owners kept a record of these kittens parentage, they would be founding a written pedigree. That is how the pedigree system began. It looks as if there is a touch of persian in the short nosed, cobby ginger, and he seems to have inherited some of the persian placidity as well.
Show standard pets
Many cat shows have non pedigree or household pet classes. There are no set standards of hair length, color or conformations as there are with the pedigreed breeds. The cats are judged on their general appeal, their friendliness, beauty and condition. Any coat length and color combination is possible in the non pedigreed range. What the two shorthairs lack in irregular coat pattern they make up for in alerness and pretty, balanced festures. A well defined blaze, chest and paws would be desirable in a pedigreed bi-color, but with the non pedigree, character would be a more important factor if it were to be entered in a show.