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BREED cats VS ALLEY cats? What is the difference?

By Ursula Uranie

December 6, 2023

Are you looking to adopt a cat or a kitten, and you’re not sure between a cat breed or an alley cat? Let us help you to understand the difference.
So what is an alley cat?
An alley cat is a domestic cat with various names, such as stray cats or moggie cats (a popular term used in the U.K). Alley cats don’t have any market value, as they’re not purebred cats, but that doesn’t mean they are worthless in any way.
Now let’s talk about their physical characteristics.

Physical characteristics of Alley cats

Stray cats come with various morphology and physical characteristics. By definition, you can find alley cats different from their peers. You may meet short hair cats, medium hair cats, and long hair cats. A cat with a variegated tail, a thin tail, and a beveled tip. Big cats, small cats, athletic cats, slender cats, or stocky cats. Some will have their ears close together, and others will not. Their head can be more or less square or triangular, round eyes, or almond-shaped eyes. They can have ginger, white, grey, or even black fur.


Like the morphology, character, and behavior of alley cats depends on the cat itself. That is, there is no standard. An alley cat can be gentle, kind, patient, and friendly. Some can be active, restless. Other cats can be quite loners. In this case, if you are away during the day, it would be better to have another pet for them to play games with. Thus, some alley cats will be happier in a house, and others will be more comfortable in an apartment, depending on their character. In reality, an alley cat can quickly adapt to its environment, more or less easily, if it feels safe and comfortable there. So an alley cat with an active, hunter and playful demeanor will agree to become a house cat if you offer him a cat tree and cat toys to satisfy his predatory instincts. Likewise, an alley cat with a homey and calm character will be happy in the house if he feels secure.

What about cat breeds? 

Many questions remain once you decide to adopt a cat breed.
‘What is the most affectionate cat breed?
Are there any breeds that remain small?
What are the hairless breeds, the rarest cat breeds?’ Etc.

When we talk about breeds, there are differences.
It could be a purebred cat or mixed cat. Today, let’s talk about the purebred cat, which is standardized instead of the alley cat.
The International Cats Association (TICA) counts seventy-one registered breeds. Each feline federation has its standards, and each breed has a standard of morphology and appearance and a standard of character and behavior. It is a long selection process carried out by professional breeders

There are 4 main types of morphology:

– Cobby: cobby cats are purebred cats with a round head and a powerful, massive body with a thick neck. They have strong bones and short, thick tails. Cat breeds such as Bombay, American Burmese, Cymric, Exotic Shorthair, and Persian are considered Cobby cats. They are the opposite of slender cats (also called oriental cats).

– Mediolines are purebred cats with a medium and balanced head. Their body is rather rectangular with a medium-sized tail. The physical characteristics of the mediolines are divided into 3 subcategories:

The Semi-cobby, these purebred cats are characterized by a body a little longer than the cobby and a generally strong bone structure. There are among others American Bobtail, Chartreux, Devon Rex, Siberian, Singapura, and Sphynx. 

Semi-foreigners are purebred cats with long bodies, elegant looks, and strong bones. This is the sub-category with the most purebred cats including the American Curl, Donskoy, Ocicat, Egyptian Mau, and Savannah.

Foreigners are fine and elegant-looking purebred cats. Among them, the Abyssinian, the Russian Blue, the Somali, the Thai.

– Orientals are purebred cats with triangular heads and long necks. These cats have long bodies, thin bones, and their tails are long and thin as well. In this category, we can find the Balinese, the Mandarin, the Oriental, the Siamese, the Cornish Rex, the Peterbald.

– The Long and Powerful cats are purebred cats who define themselves as cats with long and powerful bodies, and strong bones. Bengal, Chausie, Maine Coon, Norway, Ragdoll, Sacred Burma, Toyger, Pixie bob are among others in this category.

The same goes for appearance: silky or coarse furs, long, mid-length, short, wavy hair, or hairless cats.

Cat breeds with or without undercoat that can be classified into several categories.

Long hair cat breed: the Himalayan and Persian also have an abundant undercoat and the Ragamuffin which has long, dense fur.

Half-long-haired cat breed: many cats have half-length fur including Turkish Angora the Norwegian, Ragdoll, Siberian. They all give the illusion of having long hair because they have dense, thick fur, and sometimes longer at the neckline.

Short hair Cat Breed: Cats in this class are numerous but that doesn’t mean they all have the same coat. So, for example, the Bombay has a very short satiny coat that is very close to the body. The Ceylon has a fine, silky coat with very little undercoat. And the Snowshoe has silky soft fur.

Wavy or curly hair cat breed: this category is not as known but deserves a closer look. It is a group of purebred cats with short to medium-length hair, but all of them have the particularity of having curly or wavy hair. Thus, the American Wirehair has a short, coarse, and curly coat. The Cornish Rex has a short, dense, wavy coat. The LaPerm has a short to mid-length and curly coat. The Californian Rex, recently admitted as a full-fledged breed, has medium-length wavy fur. There are of course other cat breeds with curly or wavy hair.

Hairless cat breed: the best known is of course the Sphynx, but the Donskoy and the very elegant Peterbald have nothing to envy.


As for the character and behavior of felines, breed selection guarantees similarity between individuals.
However, the cat may adapt more or less to the character of its owner.
Regardless, groups of characters emerge depending on the cat breeds.

The most peaceful cats: recognized to be balanced purebred cats, present but not intrusive, soothing like the British, the Exotic Shorthair, the Persian, the Ragdoll.

The most affectionate cats: sensitive and balanced, the Carthusian, the Maine Coon, the Norwegian, the Russian Blue, the Sacred of Burma are known to be purebred cats who adapt easily to the members of the family with whom they interact.

The most demonstrative cats: playful, active, talkative for the most part, very attached to the attention given to them, even tights but so endearing including the Abyssinian, the Bengal, the Oriental, the Siamese, and the Sphynx.

Maintenance for both a cat breed and a stray cat.

Being diligent about brushing your cat offers several advantages. At first, your cat will swallow less hair while licking himself, which is not insignificant for the cat’s health. Secondly, there will be less hair that will fly around the house. In terms of maintenance, a purebred cat with long and medium hair will require more careful maintenance when brushing. It does not mean that shorthair cats are exempt from brushing.
Either way, both stray cats and cat breeds require care, love, and attention. The life expectancy of an alley cat is estimated to average 10-12 years, but with regular maintenance of its hair, teeth, ears, good nutrition, and up-to-date vaccines, it is not uncommon to see an alley cat lives 15 years or more, just like a breed cat.

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