15 Delightful Cat Breeds’ Origins

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Here are the stories of how 15 delightful breeds started meowing.

1. Selkirk Rex

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Most new breeds are built from the birth of just one or two special kittens—as was the case in 1987 with a feral cat mom in Montana. That cat had five kittens, with one standing out from the pack, thanks to her thick and curly hair. The special kitty ended up with a Persian breeder who steadily bred the feral cat into its own breed—the Selkirk Rex, which you might now know as “the poodle cat.”

2. Highlander Cats

There can only be one! At least, that was the thinking that went into the creation of the Highlander back in 2004. Breeders specifically aimed to make a new domestic cat breed that had the appearance of a wild “big cat,” and went about doing that by carefully crossbreeding other domestic felines. As big and powerful as the Highlanders may look, they are known for their amusing antics and affection. They are very high energy and are best amused with fun chase games and lots of human attention.

3. Scottish Folds

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Originally called “lop-eared” or “lops” (like lop-eared rabbits!), all Scottish Folds spring from one lovely lady feline—a Scottish (obviously) white barn cat named Susie who was first found in 1961. Susie’s ears had a special fold in the middle, giving her a quizzical and owl-like look and when Susie had her first litter, two of them had that same fold!

4. Ragamuffin Cats

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You may have heard of ragdoll cats, but have you met their “Ragamuffin” cousins? The breed first popped up in 1994 as a spin-off of the still new ragdoll distinction, one that was eventually beefed up by way of crossbreeding with Persians, Himalayans, and other domestic longhaired cats. Ragamuffins still share plenty of characteristics with the original breed—like being extremely affectionate with their owners, to the point that they “go limp like ragdolls” when being held. They love people so much that they’ll wait at the door for their family members to return before following them around the house.

5. Khaomanee

While the Khaomanee may have ancient roots, it’s taken whole centuries for this very special breed to be formally recognized. Originally from Thailand, it’s easy to spot a Khaomanee—after all, each of them comes with one blue eye and one eye of another color (all different variations of copper, yellow, and green) to offset their stunning white coats. Despite their intense appearance, Khaomanees are playful, social, curious, and remarkably adept at greeting and cuddling up with even new guests to their home.

6. Donskoy Cats

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In 1987, a Russian professor rescued a kitten, only to have the cat lose all of her hair as she matured. When the cat had her first litter a few years later, some of her kittens were born completely without hair, and those who did have hair promptly lost it, just like their mom. One of her kittens was steadily bred into its own new breed—the Don Sphynx or the Donskoy—and the line has matured into a very smart, very affectionate new type of cat.

7. Minskin

There is nothing quite like a Minskin, a new breed of shorties with fur only at certain points. The result of careful breeding of Munchkins and Sphynx, Minskins are very affectionate and very agile, despite their short stature. What little fur they do have is extremely soft and comparable to cashmere (adorable!).

8. Ojos Azules

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It’s easy to see where the Ojos Azules get their name—it’s Spanish for “blue eyes,” and that’s what sets this breed (in both shorthair and longhair versions) apart from others. First found in 1984 in New Mexico, it is believed that most known Ojos Azules spring from one female ancestor. This mother was bred to unrelated males who didn’t have such sparkling peepers, but all of her kittens displayed her bright eyes, distinguishing the trait as a dominant one (and one easy to breed for).

9. Napoleon

Another adorable shortie breed, the Napoleon also comes from breeding between Munchkins and another very special breed—in this case, the Persian. The first Napoleons were bred back in 1996, when a Basset Hound breeder attempted to make a cat version of his beloved low-slung canine.

Aiming for a cute kitty with little legs, he crossed doll-faced Persians with small-legged Munchkins to make Napoleons (who are, yes, named after the French general). The breed is distinguishable by its looks alone, but they are also uniquely gentle and affectionate. While some Napoleons still have long legs, all are recognizable by virtue of their big, round heads and big, round eyes.

10. Burmilla

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A cross between a Chinchilla Persian and a Burmese, the British Burmilla was first introduced in 1981, reaching official breed status in the 1990s. Unlike other new breeds, the creation of the Burmilla was purely accidental—a left-open door allowed a Chinchilla Persian and a lilac Burmese to, ahem, meet up and make the cute new breed.

11. Sokoke

A native breed from Kenya’s Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Preserve, the Sokoke’s roots go back long enough that various tribes in the area all have experience with the exceptionally beautiful breed. They were first introduced into domesticity in 1978, when a pack of kittens were discovered by a local woman who eventually bred two of them together and started exporting the offspring to a friend who lived in Denmark at the time.

12. Pixiebob

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The Pixiebob could stand out in the cat crowd simply thanks to its cute name, but the big and brawny cats have a full package of other traits to make them unique. The Pixiebob, which first originated in 1985 in an effort to get a bobcat look, is the only recognized breed that is allowed to exhibit polydactyly (extra toes, though the maximum allowed on each foot is seven) and they can use those extra tootsies for trotting along with their family, as they can be leash trained for maximum fun.

13. Serengeti

Much like the Highlander, the Serengeti was bred to emulate a larger, wild cat—in this case, the stunning African serval. A breeding program was put into place back in 1995, and it continues around the world, particularly in the U.S., the UK, and Europe. A combination of Bengals and oriental shorthairs, Serengetis do not actually have any serval ancestors. Serengeti cats can be shy upon first meeting, but once they warm up to people (and other pets!), they are very affectionate and involved. They are also big athletes, and will consistently run around the house at full speed.

14. LaPerm

It’s easy to see where the LaPerm gets its name—it sure looks like the soft-shagged breed has gotten a perm to give its fur such a gentle wave. The first LaPerm was born in 1982 when a kitten came into the world hairless with a tabby pattern clear on her skin. As she grew, her fur steadily grew in, only to eventually turn into a soft and wavy full-body mane. When she had offspring of her own, some straight-coated kittens shed their original fur, went bald, and then grew their own curly locks. LaPerms are classified as clownish and clever, and they enjoy being around people and participating in everyday activities. Their ringlets tend to make them look angelic, and their affectionate personalities only bolster that.

15. Toyger

If nothing else, the Toyger breed is a winner by virtue of their adorable name alone. Like the Highlanders and Serengetis, the Toygers were bred to resemble tigers, thanks to their “mackerel tabby” markings that look more like tiger stripes than regular tabby lines. Toygers were first bred in the late 1980s in an attempt to clarify such markings, and a new breed was born from the tiger-like ideal. While Toygers don’t look exactly like mini tigers, their fur color is typically an alluring combo of orange and black.

This Smart Accessory Converts Your Instant Pot Into an Air Fryer

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Amazon

If you can make a recipe in a slow cooker, Dutch oven, or rice cooker, you can likely adapt it for an Instant Pot. Now, this all-in-one cooker can be converted into an air fryer with one handy accessory.

This Instant Pot air fryer lid—currently available on Amazon for $80—adds six new cooking functions to your 6-quart Instant Pot. You can select the air fry setting to get food hot and crispy fast, using as little as 2 tablespoons of oil. Other options include roast, bake, broil, dehydrate, and reheat.

Many dishes you would prepare in the oven or on the stovetop can be made in your Instant Pot when you switch out the lids. Chicken wings, French fries, and onion rings are just a few of the possibilities mentioned in the product description. And if you're used to frying being a hot, arduous process, this lid works without consuming a ton of energy or heating up your kitchen.

The lid comes with a multi-level air fry basket, a broiling and dehydrating tray, and a protective pad and storage cover. Check it out on Amazon.

For more clever ways to use your Instant Pot, take a look at these recipes.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

13 Memorable Facts About D-Day

American troops landing on Omaha beach at Normandy on D-Day.
American troops landing on Omaha beach at Normandy on D-Day.
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The Normandy landings—an event better known as “D-Day”—became a pivotal moment in the Second World War. Heavy losses were inflicted on both sides, but with planning, deception, and semiaquatic tanks, the Allied forces pulled off what is considered the biggest amphibious invasion in history. Here are a few things you should know about the historic crusade to liberate France from Nazi Germany.

1. D-Day occurred on June 6, 1944.

The D-Day invasion was several years in the making. In December 1941, the United States formally entered World War II. Shortly thereafter, British and American strategists began entertaining the possibility of a huge offensive across the English Channel and into Nazi-occupied France. But first, the Allies swept through northern Africa and southern Italy, weakening the Axis hold on the Mediterranean Sea. Their strategy resulted in Italy’s unconditional surrender in September 1943 (though that wasn’t the end of the war in Italy). Earlier that year, the Western allies started making preparations for a campaign that would finally open up a new front in northwestern France. It was going to be an amphibious assault, with tens of thousands of men leaving England and then landing on France’s Atlantic coastline.

2. Normandy was chosen as the D-Day landing site because the Allies were hoping to surprise German forces.

Since the Germans would presumably expect an attack on the Pas de Calais—the closest point to the UK—the Allies decided to hit the beaches of Normandy instead. Normandy was also within flying distance of war planes stationed in England, and it had a conveniently located port.

3. D-Day action centered around five beaches that were code-named "Utah," "Omaha," "Gold," "Juno," and "Sword."

American assault troops and equipment landing on Omaha beach on the Northern coast of France.
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Altogether, the D-Day landing beaches encompassed 50 miles of coastline real estate [PDF]. The Canadian 3rd Division landed on Juno; British forces touched down on Gold and Sword; and the Americans were sent to Utah and Omaha. Of the five beaches, Omaha had the most bloodshed: Roughly 2400 American casualties—plus 1200 German casualties—occurred there. How the beaches got their code-names is a mystery, although it’s been claimed that American general Omar Bradley named “Omaha” and “Utah” after two of his staff carpenters. (One of the men came from Omaha, Nebraska, while the other called Provo, Utah, home.)

4. Pulling off the D-Day landings involved some elaborate trickery to fool the Nazis.

If the Allies landed in France, Hitler was confident that his men could repel them. “They will get the thrashing of their lives,” the Führer boasted. But in order to do that, the German military would need to know exactly where the Allied troops planned to begin their invasion. So in 1943, the Allies kicked off an ingenious misinformation campaign. Using everything from phony radio transmissions to inflatable tanks, they successfully convinced the Germans that the British and American forces planned to make landfall at the Pas de Calais. Duped by the charade, the Germans kept a large percentage of their troops stationed there (and in Norway, which was the rumored target of another bogus attack). That left Normandy relatively under-defended when D-Day came along.

5. D-Day was planned with the help of meteorologists.

The landings at Normandy and subsequent invasion of France were code-named “Operation Overlord,” and General Dwight D. Eisenhower (the future U.S. president) led the operation. To choose the right date for his invasion, Eisenhower consulted with three different teams of meteorologists, who predicted that in early June, the weather would be best on June 5, 6, or 7; if not then, they'd have to wait for late June.

Originally, Eisenhower wanted to start the operation on June 5. But the weather didn’t cooperate. To quote geophysicist Walter Munk, “On [that date], there were very high winds, and Eisenhower made the decision to wait 24 hours. However, 24 hours later, the Americans predicted there would be a break in the storm and that conditions would be difficult, but not impossible.” Ultimately, Ike began the attack on June 6, even though the weather was less than ideal. It’s worth noting that if he’d waited for a clearer day, the Germans might have been better prepared for his advance. (As for the dates they'd suggested for late June? There was a massive storm.)

6. "D-Day" was a common military term, according to Eisenhower's personal aide.

A few years after Eisenhower retired from public life, he was asked if the “D” in “D-day” stood for anything. In response to this inquiry, his aide Robert Schultz (a brigadier general) said that “any amphibious operation has a ‘departed date’; therefore the shortened term ‘D-Day’ is used” [PDF].

7. D-Day was among the largest amphibious assaults in military history.

U.S. troops in landing craft, during the D-Day landings.
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On D-Day, approximately 156,115 Allied troops—representing the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, New Zealand, Norway, and Poland—landed on the beaches of Normandy. They were accompanied by almost 7000 nautical vessels. In terms of aerial support, the Allies showed up with more than 10,000 individual aircrafts, which outnumbered the German planes 30 to one.

8. On D-Day, floating tanks were deployed by the Allies.

The brainchild of British engineers, the Sherman Duplex Drive Tanks (a.k.a. “Donald Duck” tanks) came with foldable canvas screens that could be unfurled at will, turning the vehicle into a crude boat. Once afloat, the tanks were driven forward with a set of propellers. They had a top nautical speed of just under 5 mph. The Duplex Drives that were sent to Juno, Sword, and Gold fared a lot better than those assigned to Omaha or Utah. The one at Omaha mostly sank because they had to travel across larger stretches of water—and they encountered choppier waves.

9. When the D-Day attack started, Adolf Hitler was asleep.

On the eve of D-Day, Hitler was entertaining Joseph Goebbels and some other guests at his home in the Alps. The dictator didn’t go to bed until 3 a.m. Just three and a half hours later, at 6:30 a.m., the opening land invasions at Normandy began. (And by that point, Allied gliders and paratroopers had been touching down nearby since 12:16 in the morning.) Hitler was finally roused at noon, when his arms minister informed him about the massive assault underway in Normandy. Hitler didn’t take it seriously and was slow to authorize a top general’s request for reinforcements. That mistake proved critical.

10. DWIGHT Eisenhower was fully prepared to accept blame if things went badly on D-Day.

General Dwight D Eisenhower watches the Allied landing operations from the deck of a warship in the English Channel on D-Day.
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While Hitler was partying in the Alps, Eisenhower was drafting a bleak message. The success of Operation Overlord was by no means guaranteed, and if something went horribly awry, Ike might have had no choice but to order a full retreat. So he preemptively wrote a brief statement that he intended to release if the invasion fell apart. “Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops,” it said. “My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”

11. Knocking out German communications was one of the keys to victory on D-Day.

Hitler may not have had all of his troops in the right spot, but the Germans who’d been stationed at Normandy did enjoy some crucial advantages. At many localities—Omaha Beach included—the Nazi forces had high-powered machine guns and fortified positions. That combination enabled them to mow down huge numbers of Allied troops. But before the dawn broke on June 6, British and American paratroopers had landed behind enemy lines and taken out vital lines of communication while capturing some important bridges. Ultimately, that helped turn the tide against Germany.

12. Theodore Roosevelt's son earned a medal of honor for fighting on D-Day.

It was the 56-year-old brigadier general Theodore Roosevelt Jr. who led the first wave of troops on Utah Beach. The men, who had been pushed off-course by the turbulent waters, missed their original destination by over 2000 yards. Undaunted, Roosevelt announced, “We’re going to start the war from right here.” Though he was arthritic and walked with a cane, Roosevelt insisted on putting himself right in the heart of the action. Under his leadership, the beach was taken in short order. Roosevelt, who died of natural causes one month later, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

13. D-Day was the opening chapter in a long campaign.

The Normandy invasion was not a one-day affair; it raged on until Allied forces crossed the River Seine in August [PDF]. Altogether, the Allies took about 200,000 casualties over the course of the campaign—including 4413 deaths on D-Day alone. According to the D-Day Center, “No reliable figures exist for the German losses, but it is estimated that around 200,000 were killed or wounded with approximately 200,000 more taken prisoner.” On May 7, 1945—less than a year after D-Day—Germany surrendered, ending the war in its European Theater.