What’s a Cat Registry?

Skye Blake, Cat Info Detective, facing left

Greetings all my feline friends… pedigreed or not. Ever heard of a cat registry? If not, here’s some interesting info I uncovered for you…

Paw prints coming forward

Cat Fancy & Registry

Sphynx cat in window

What is a cat fancy? It’s a broad term for any groups of people who breed and show cats. This includes individuals, clubs and registries. If you register your cat, you’re part of the cat fancy.

What is a cat registry? A cat registry is an organization that records information about the parents, grandparents, and other ancestors of domestic cats. Most registered cats are purebreds but can be crossbreds in some registries.

These are not the same as breed clubs or societies, but cat clubs and societies are often affiliated with registries.

Cat registries keep stud books and family genealogy for various reasons, one of which is help maintain breed standards of health and appearance. Registered cats can be entered in shows where they’re judged according to each breeds standards by trained judges.

Registries keep the stud books and family genealogy of registered cats so breeders can show who the parents and grandparents are of their cats, going back at least three generations.

A pedigreed cat is one who’s parents, grandparents and great-grandparents are all registered. They might not all be purebred cats.

A purebred cat has parents and grandparents of the same breed.

You can register any pedigreed, purebred, or neutered pet for a small fee (about $10-15.00 per cat). Some registries donate a portion of the fee to rescue groups.


siamese breed kitten

There are 40+ feline registries worldwide (regional, national or international) and a few federations of registries. Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) and The International Cat Association (TICA) are the biggest.

The World Cat Congress (WCC) is an international group that oversees the other registries. It facilitates discussions and cooperation between registries.

You’ll find links to the websites of the major registries at the bottom of this page. A brief summary of each registry is given at All About Dogs and Cats.

“Genotypic” & “Phenotypic” Cat Registries

A “genotypic” registry focuses on the genetic makeup of purebred cats. This helps with keeping breeds healthy and free of genetic defects.

A “phenotypic” registry recognizes crossbreed cats as long as they fit observable standards.

For example, a cat that looks like a Persian but has a different coat color that it got from cross breeding will be considered a Persian by a phenotypic registry, like The International Cat Association (TICA), since it conforms to the Persian breed standard in every other way.

A genotypic registry, like Cat Fanciers Association (CFA), will register the cat as a different breed, since its color comes from other breeds.

longhaired breed cat

Each registry has its own methods for establishing and maintaining breed standards. Some are very strict about accepting new breeds, while others are more permissive about them. There are pros and cons to each approach.

They often have very detailed and complex breed identification and status codes. An excellent comparison of CFA and TICA can be found at PandEcats.com.

Within each registry (as with any group) there can be disputes about breed standards, shows, and other topics that can result in breeders leaving and joining other registries.

blue possible scottish fold cat

Each registry licenses cat shows that are put on by their member clubs. Show rules, breed standards, judges and judging standards are set by the particular registry that licenses them.

So if you go to a TICA show, you might find judges evaluating the same Siamese cat differently than at a CFA show.

Some crossbreeds or new breeds might be shown and judged at TICA shows but not allowed at CFA shows.

Interesting Registry Programs

Some cat registries work on community education and outreach, rescue and adoption promotion, and health related research. For example, CFA offers…

  • Ambassadors (people at shows that the public can ask about the cats, programs, and shows)
  • Feline Agility
  • Breeders’ Assistance (for breeders who need help)
  • Animal Welfare Committee (TNR for feral populations, disaster rescue, cattery inspection, etc.)
  • Mentoring (breeding and cat care)
  • Youth Feline Education
  • The Winn Feline Foundation
  • The NewBee Program

If you’re interested in finding out more about breeds, breeding, shows, or other programs offered by registries, check the links below.

American Cat Assocation (ACA)
American Cat Fanciers’ Association (ACFA)Canadian Cat Association (CCA)
Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA)Cat Fanciers Federation (CFF)Federation Internationale Feline (FiFe)
40 member countries
Governing Council of the Cat FancyThe International Cat AssociationWorld Cat Congress (WCC)
international federation or largest organizations and national associations
9 members
World Cat Federation
based in Germany, has 370 member organizations
A brief summary of each registry at All About Dogs and Cats

What’s a Cat Show?


Sources used on this website are either primary or secondary. Primary are always preferable and have the most reliable information because primary sources are original and directly referenced. Scientific abstracts and data are good examples of primary sources.

Secondary sources are weaker because they usually consist of opinions or articles that give no sources of their own. However, sometimes they refer to primary sources. Thus, when I use secondary sources most are those with some authority, such as veterinarian or cat behaviorist books and articles.


“77 Things to Know Before Getting a Cat”, by Susan M. Ewing, Fox Chapel Publishers International, Ltd., 2018

All About Dogs and Cats.com

Cat Fanciers Glossary, Orca Starbuck

“Decoding Your Cat”, American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, edited by Meghan E. Herron, DVM, DACVB, Debra F. Horwitz DVM, DACVB, Carlo Siracusa DVM, PhD, DACVB, DECAWBM, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Co., New York, NY, 2020, www.hmhbooks.com, pp. 165-189

“Cat Registries and Cat Clubs”, Messybeast.com

“Comparing CFA & TICA” by Cheryl Leigh Chamberlin, 2015, PandEcats.com

“Genotype vs Phenotype: Examples and Definitions”, Molly Campbell, Science Writer, Technology Networks, April 18, 2019

“Cat Registry”, Wikipedia.com