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devoted to Persian & Exotic Shorthair Cats

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The Premier Online Magazine devoted
to Persian & Exotic Shorthair Cats

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How To Read A Pedigree

If you’re just starting out in the cat fancy, a pedigree can often be a confusing mix of numbers, titles, colors and lines. How do you read one of these things anyway? 

For the purposes of this example, we’ll be looking at an official certified pedigree, issued by CFA (See right). This is a 6-generation pedigree however pedigrees come in 3-4-5… up to 8 generations or more. Any pedigree you look at will have similar information, so once you understand the basics, you’ll have no problem reading other pedigrees as well. 

There are two parts to a pedigree: the top or heading which contains the details of the individual cat whose pedigree it is; and the main body of the pedigree which contains the names of the actual ancestors of the cat.

The Top/Heading of the Pedigree

The top lines in the header of a certified pedigree give you information about the specific cat the pedigree is for. This section contains:

  • The cat’s registered name
  • Any titles the cat may have earned AT THE TIME the pedigree was issued. If the cat had a different suffix in the past, but it has since changed, only the current information is shown.
  • Registration number plus volume number (ex 0100-1111111 v0101) The first part of the registration number (the 4 digit prefix) will tell you the color and sex of the cat. The number at the end – the “v number” refers to a “virtual” studbook number. It indicates the month and year the cat first had a litter REGISTERED out of that cat (not when it was born). In the example above, it means the cat’s first litter was registered in January of 2001.
  • Sex: the sex of the cat
  • Breed: the breed of the cat
  • Color: the color of the cat
  • Birthdate: date the cat was born
  • Breeder: the breeder(s) of the cat
  • Owner: the owner(s) of the cat, AT THE TIME the pedigree was issued

The Body of The Pedigree

The next section of the pedigree contains a record of the cat’s ancestors. The top half of a pedigree contains the Sire of the cat and all his ancestors. The bottom half of the pedigree contains the Dam and her ancestors. Looking at the parents for any given cat, the sire will always be to the top (labeled with “s” or “sire”) , the dam to the bottom (labeled as “d” or “dam”). The listing for each ancestor contains similar information to that given dor the individual cat:

  • Name and titles (AS OF THE DATE of issuance)
  • Registration number and volume number
  • Color
  • Date of birth

The partial pedigree below shows the lower half (Dam’s side) of a pedigree (4 generations). The red numbers indicate the generation and show the order in which your eye moves through the pedigree; left to right, not top to bottom.

Evaluating a Pedigree

What should you be looking for exactly when you evaluate a pedigree? The more you know about the cats behind your pedigree, the more a pedigree will tell you. But even a beginner who recognizes none of the names in a pedigree can study it and look for the following:

  • The farther back in a pedigree a cat is, the less its significance – because, the less genetic material it will have contributed to the current generation.
  • The more often the same cat appears in a pedigree, the more significant it becomes – especially if it was a high quality individual.
  • Are there many common ancestors in the pedigree?
  • Are the common ancestors titled?
  • Are there national and regional winners in recent generations?
  • Are the cats within three generations who have earned the DM title, indicating successful breeding careers?
  • Is the pedigree linebred/inbred/outcrossed?
  • Can you tell or guess at your cat’s color genetics by studying/tracing recessive colors through the pedigree.
  • Are the cattery names on the cats well-known in your breed?

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The Cat Fanciers’ Association considers the Himalayan Persian a color variation of the Persian rather than a separate breed, although they do compete in their own color division. It was for the color that the breed was named “Himalayan”: a reference to the coloration of Himalayan animals, in particular the Himalayan rabbit.