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Exploring the World of Top Cat Registries: What You Need to Know

Exploring the World of Cat Registries

Cats have been beloved companions of humans for thousands of years. With their adorable looks, playful personalities, and affectionate nature, it’s no wonder why they are one of the most popular pets in the world.

However, not all cats are created equal, and cat lovers often want to know more about their feline friends, including their breed, history, and characteristics.

Have you ever wondered who is in charge of defining and standardizing cat breeds, regulating show rules, and training judges?

This is where cat registries come in.

Cat registries are organizations that keep track of all the different breeds of cats and provide information about their origins, characteristics, and standards.

In this article, we will explore the world of cat registries and provide you with some interesting facts that you may not have known. Whether you’re a seasoned cat enthusiast or a curious onlooker, this article is sure to provide you with valuable insights into the world of cats.

Surely you have met such abbreviations as “WCF”, “CFF”, “CFA” and others. We think you would like to understand “which one is which” and how they can be different. Let’s go!

Table of Contents:

History of felinological organizations

Tip! Do you know cat registries, also known as felinological organizations?

As the number of people interested in cats, their behavior, breeding, and protection grew, the latter began to unite in communities and clubs.

In addition, a significant number of breeds required some standardization and unification.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, different parts of the world began to form territorial associations of cat lovers. We mean at the country level, since local clubs started a little earlier, somewhere in the middle of the XIX century.

Cat Show at Crystal Palace in 1871

Regarding the first organized exhibitions, they began in 1871.

It was Harrison Weir (British artist) who formulated the idea of creating a set of Standards by which cats could be judged.

In the same year, the first exhibition of these animals was held in London.

In 1887 Harrison Weir founded the National Cat Club and was its first president and exhibition manager.

What do we have now? Most of the felinological organizations are located under the umbrella of the World Congress of Cats, where the most global and important issues are solved.

As a matter of fact, let’s consider them in more detail.

We’d like to note that there are a number of independent organizations and clubs. Accordingly, they are not members of the following world organizations – we will talk about them separately in the following articles.

World Cat Congress

World Cat Congress logo

Let us begin, perhaps, with the World Cat Congress. Hereafter we will abbreviate it as Congress.

The official page is:

History of World Cat Congress

And so, the history of the WCC dates back to 1994. That year a symposium called “Cats and Man” was organized in Venice (Italy).

The next day the historic moment actually happened, when the presidents of the largest feline organizations for the first time sat down at the same table.

In addition to everything else, the common problems faced by the cat community were discussed.

Despite some technical or political differences, the meeting participants realized the importance of international cooperation.

Consequently, it was decided to organize regular meetings of association presidents to explore and find solutions to problems of common interest.

During those two days of the symposium, in Venice, the first steps of cooperation between felinological organizations were made.

By the way, why was Venice chosen?
Several hundred years ago, cats were brought into the city to rid it of rats. Venice was very respectful of its cat population, and today cats even have citizenship. And of course, we should mention the white cat Nini, the famous Venetian mouser, but that’s another story.

Subsequent meetings followed the pattern established in Venice.

These were seminars, international exhibitions, to which participating heads of organizations are invited to judge, and a meeting of representatives of world cat associations.

What are the goals and objectives of the World Cat Congress?

The goal of Congress is to work together to improve the health and well-being of cats. In addition, the objectives include the sharing of resources and knowledge throughout the world.

Among other things, the following areas of cooperation have been identified:

  • open shows;
  • cooperation in registration;
  • cat health;
  • legislation regarding cats;
  • training materials;
  • pedigree recognition;
  • cooperation in exhibition planning.

Who are the members of the World Cat Congress?

The following organizations are considered members of Congress – 9 in all.

  • The International Cat Association (TICA);
  • The World Cat Federation (WCF);
  • The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA);
  • The Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFe);
  • The Australian Cat Federation (ACF);
  • The Co-Ordinating Cat Council of Australia (CCCA);
  • The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF);
  • The New Zealand Cat Fancy (NZCF);
  • The Southern African Cat Council (SACC).

From the whole list, you may be familiar with only the first half. We, in fact, did not know the rest of the organizations, too, until we studied this subject in detail. By the way, we ourselves are WCF members.

Although members are often competitors in the international feline arena, each organization has the same goals for the promotion of cat health and welfare.

By the way, here’s what a general scheme of cat organizations might look like visually.

World cat registries (relations among them and World Cat Comgress)

Let’s take a closer look at all the participants.

The International Cat Association (TICA)

Логотип организации TICA

The International Cat Association (TICA) was organized in 1979 and is headquartered in the United States. TICA is the world’s largest pedigree cat registry and the world’s largest pet registry.

Today TICA is an international organization with clubs and members all over the world.

TICA maintains a central registry, registers cats, and issues pedigrees from its executive office in Harlingen, Texas (USA).

How the show goes on in TICA

Shows are held in a ring format without score sheets. Only licensed judges and/or trainees can work with cats. 

The judge evaluates all the cats and gives his/her awards according to TICA standards, and not based on his/her personal likes or dislikes. 

The judge examines your animal and makes a decision. By the way, there is a restriction for judges when it is forbidden to judge more than 250 animals in one day.

The World Cat Federation (WCF)

WCF logo

The World Cat Federation (WCF) was founded in 1988 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Now it is an international association of cat clubs registered in Germany.

Currently, about 280 organizations around the world are associated with WCF.

WCF allows breeders of affiliated clubs to register the names of their catteries internationally. The Federation also prepares judges for exhibitions and organizes examinations.

How the show goes in WCF

WCF shows according to the European system – evaluation sheets are used. All cats that compete with each other can also take part in the WCF ring.

The selection of the best animals can be carried out by experts either jointly or by voting. This procedure is determined by the club, which organizes the exhibition.

The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA)

CFA logo

CFA is a non-profit organization founded in 1906 after a break with the American Cat Association.

The organization has about 650 member clubs and licenses more than 400 major cat shows worldwide each year.

CFA shows are judged by people who meet high qualification criteria and have undergone a rigorous training program. Show cats are judged using CFA Breed standards for each of the 42 breeds.

How the show goes in CFA

The show consists of several separate, simultaneous, individual shows. They are held in different judging rings throughout the show hall.

Each ring is presided over by a separate judge, who gives awards independently of the decisions of the other judges.

Consequently, a cat, which has been selected as the best cat in Ring 1, not always can get the same award from the judge in Ring 2. Thus, complete independence and objectivity in judging are achieved.

The Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFe)

FIFe cat registry logo

FIFe is a non-profit federation of cat lovers, mainly in Europe, but with members also in Central and South America and in Asia.

The federation was founded in 1949 by three clubs representing Belgium, France, and Italy.

  • Year founded: 1949
  • Country: worldwide (Luxembourg – head office)
  • Official website:

It is now registered in Luxembourg and has 42 full members in 40 countries.

All member organizations follow the same rules regarding cat registration, breed standards, rules for health and welfare, cattery names, shows, judges, and student judges.

How the show is held in FIFe

The organization has a European system of judging – by the scorecard. At the end of the day, there is usually a “Best In” by cat category and the final winner of the show is determined.

There is an interesting nuance of FIFe rules, when the animals are not carried by the owners, but only by stewards.

However, this may apply only if the cat participates in further nominations, such as “Best In Show”. Stewarts are specially trained people and believe us, they will present your cat in all its glory.)

The Australian Cat Federation (ACF)

ACF  cat registry logo

ACF was established with the aim of achieving uniformity throughout Australia in key aspects of cat shows and breeding.

The Federation is an advisory body with affiliates (member organizations) representing all states and territories of Australia.

It does not have a central registry; rather, each institution works independently in cooperation with other member organizations. ACF has a common judicial training scheme, bylaws, and standards.

The Co-Ordinating Cat Council of Australia (CCCA)

CCCA  cat organization logo

CCCA goals include:

  • Developing positive public relations for cats;
  • Promoting breeding and exhibition of pedigreed cats;
  • Developing national unity with respect to registration, breed standards, and judge training.

The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF)

GCCF felinological organization logo

The GCCF was founded in 1910 by the founders of the four clubs, which at that time were involved in the registration of cats.

The organization is run from an office in Bridgewater, Somerset County, England, by a staff of 12.

They handle registration, show processing, agendas, minutes, and correspondence, and communicate with the general public. The GCCF also has two important subcommittees, Genetics and Veterinary.

The Council currently has 144 affiliated cat clubs, licenses about 135 shows, and registers more than 31,000 cats a year.

How the show goes in GCCF

GCCF has a slightly different judging system from both European and American (we’ll tell you about their main differences a bit further on).

So, the animals are placed in the showroom and in the same cages – they only have numbers. After that, all owners are sure to leave the room.

The judge moves from cage to cage and makes his notes according to the numbers. After the examination is over, the audience is invited into the room and the show continues.

The New Zealand Cat Fancy (NZCF)

NZCF feline organization logo

NZCF is the principal cat registrar and governing body for all clubs and their members in New Zealand.

The Council contains several hundred members and 38 affiliated clubs.

All NZCF clubs and their members have extensive knowledge of the care and breeding of cats of all breeds.

What they say. If you:

  • Have an interest in cats;
  • Have a passion for cats;
  • Intend to enter the fascinating and challenging world of cat shows;
  • Want to learn more about cat breeding;
  • Want to know more about the health and well-being of cats.

Then you should consider becoming a member of The New Zealand Cat Fancy.

The Southern African Cat Council (SACC)

SACC felinological organization logotype

Organized representation of South African Cats began in 1945, with the formation of the SACC.

The Council is governed by 2 types of members: voting positions and non-voting positions (President, Registrars, Judges, etc.).

SACC holds multiple championships throughout South Africa, where cats can receive more than one certificate on a given show day.

According to their rules, cats can change status and move from one class to a higher class during a show. They can also accumulate points at each show to qualify for the prestigious SACC Cat of the Year show.

What are the differences between cat registries?

In spite of the fact that all international organizations love cats equally, there are a number of differences between them. Each of the global world organizations has its own felinological system. Let’s clarify the main points.

American and European systems

Here we are talking about radically different systems, according to which breed standards, show and show rules obtained titles, cat registration rules, and many other things are determined.

Let’s try to understand a little bit what are the differences between American and European systems.

The judging process at shows and exhibitions

The American system

The American system involves a ring system without grading on the jury table.

The evaluation is usually done for a group of animals, which are placed in special show cages. The animals are evaluated by a judge one by one in front of the audience and the owners of the animals. 

TICA ribbon for the first place

The result of the evaluation is a ribbon (ribbon) of a certain color, which indicates the grade. For example,

  • 1st place: blue ribbon;
  • 2nd place: red ribbon;
  • 3rd place: yellow ribbon.

The winners of the qualifying rounds further participate in the final ring.

The American system is interesting because it is always a loud show, with spectators and applause.

And of course, how can it be without winners and losers, without inspiration and disappointment – all this is available to both participants and spectators. We know that the American system is used by CFA and TICA.

The European system

With the European judging system, expert evaluation takes place at the judge’s table.

The owner is called by number, and he takes the animal and goes to a certain specialist. He examines the animal, points out the advantages and/or disadvantages, and gives his evaluation for each of the parameters (color, build, etc.). All of this is written down on a so-called evaluation sheet.

According to the results of the evaluation list, a summarized final result is given – Recognized / Not Recognized.

In addition, judges make notes of the most interesting animals. At the end of the show these cats usually participate in the final show, where the winner is determined by a vote of all judges – usually, there are 3 people.

The European system is used by organizations such as WCF and FIFe.

You should know that an animal can be a member of several clubs at the same time. Accordingly, may participate in exhibitions on both systems.

By the way, we also attend shows with our Abyssinian cats 🐱

Breed recognition among different cat registries

The situation with the breeds is interesting. Some organizations do not recognize a number of breeds at all. Often these can be aboriginal breeds (selection from domestic cats) or copies of so-called “author” breeds. 

As of 2019 (according to Wikipedia), 

  • The International Cat Association (TICA) speaks of 71 recognized breeds;
  • The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) recognizes 44;
  • The International Federation of Cats (FIFe) designates 43 breeds. 

For more details, it is necessary to look up each organization on its official website, as the information is subject to change. This information is usually found in breed sections or show/show rules.

Inconsistency in cat breeds

The inconsistency in the classification of breeds and names in the registries indicates that for different organizations an animal can be considered different breeds.

In addition, it can be in absolutely different registries and even under different colors.

For example, the Himalayan cat in TICA is considered a separate breed. However, in CFA it is only a color of the Persian cat breed.

By the way, did you know that? Many geographic and cultural names for cat breeds are fictitious just to make them sound exotic. However, they have nothing to do with the actual origin of the breeds: the Balinese, the Javanese (Javanese), and the Himalayan are examples of this trend.

Let’s look at the comparison of cat recognition in the example of the Abyssinian breed. By the way, we have  “2 people” living in our family.

Comparison of breeds between cat organizations (by the example of the Abyssinian breed)

OrganizationThe Australian Cat Federation (ACF)Co-Ordinating Cat Council of Australia (CCCA)The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA)Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFe)Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF)The New Zealand Cat Fancy (NZCF)The Southern African Cat Council (SACC)The International Cat Association (TICA)The World Cat Federation (WCF)
Breed NameAbyssinianAbyssinianAbyssinianAbyssinianAbyssinianAbyssinianAbyssinianAbyssinianAbyssinian
Recognition statusfullfullfullfullfull
for some varieties
Breed codeABYnonenoneABY23ABYABYABABY
Allowable outcrossesSomalinonenoneSomalinoneSomaliSomalinoneSomali
Recognised colourstawny (ruddy, usual) ABY n

cinnamon (sorrel) ABY o

blue ABY a

fawn ABY p

silver series of above (s)
tawny (ruddy, usual)

cinnamon (sorrel)





silver series of above colours
ruddy (tawny, usual)

red (cinnamon, sorrel)


usual (tawny, ruddy) ABY n

sorrel (cinnamon) ABY o

blue ABY a

fawn ABY p

silver series of above colours (s)
usual (tawny, ruddy) (23)*

sorrel (cinnamon) (23a)*

chocolate (23b)*

blue (23c)*

lilac (23d)*

fawn (23e)*

red (23f)

cream (23g)

The ‘*’ denotes full recognition.

Silver series of above colours with full recognition only if applicable to base colour.

Other colours are provisionally recognised and can be registered.
ruddy (tawny, usual)



sorrel (cinnamon)



silver series of above colours
ruddy (tawny, usual)

sorrel (cinnamon)





silver series of above colours
ruddy (tawny, usual)

chocolate cinnamon (sorrel)




silver series of above colours
ruddy (tawny, usual) ABY n

sorrel (cinnamon) ABY o

blue ABY a

fawn ABY p

silver series of above colours (s)
Breeding restrictionsCrossing of Abyssinian and Somali allowed but shorthaired offspring will be registered as ABY with ‘var’ for variant incorporated into registration number.Non-silver progeny of silver Abyssinian may only be used for breeding with silver Abyssinian, they may NOT be bred with non silver Abyssinian.

Short haired progeny of Abyssinian x Somali may not be bred into the Abyssinian population.
  Abyssinians should not be bred from cats that demonstrate disqualifying faults, veterinary defects or extreme variation from the Standard of Points.

No variants allowed.
Special notesPedigrees of non silvers from silver matings will note that fact.

Adding (s) to the registration number is common practice.
 Eight generation pedigree required to register cats from another association.Abysinnian offspring from matings between Abysinniasn and Somalis may have’var’ on their registration.

Genetic tests for known conditions recommended before breeding.
 Application currently being made to change name “ruddy” to tawny and “sorrel” to cinnamon.nonenone 

You can find similar comparisons for other breeds on the World Cat Congress website.

Here is the link:

All you have to do here is choose the breed you want.

Difference in exhibition organization

When organizing a show or exhibition, each club is guided by the rules of the organization to which it belongs. In fact, all the rules are publicly available on the organizations’ official websites.

There may be quite a lot of details. For example, from the rules of vaccination of animals to the required space in the hall for each animal.

The bottom line

To summarize, it can be said that each organization itself regulates the main issues concerning breed standards, exhibitions, training, and certification of judges.

At the same time, the differences can be quite large, up to the non-recognition of some breeds. 

Global and strategic questions are solved at the level of the World Congress by all participants.

We hope we succeeded to clarify the main points about world felinological organizations. More detailed information on “our” WCF organization we will try to consider in the following articles.


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