"Cuban blue" cats said to be new breed

Thu May 26, 2011 9:03pm EDT
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By Jeff Franks

HAVANA (Reuters) - In a Havana apartment, four silvery gray cats race around the floor and tumble over the furniture playing with each other, occasionally jumping into the laps of their human visitors.

They act like typical house cats, but these are not just any felines. They are members of what Cuban cat lovers believe is a newly identified breed of short-hair cat they call the Cuban blue.

"They are very docile, very playful. They have a very agreeable personality," said Angel Uriarte Rubio, president of the Cuban Association of Cat Enthusiasts, as he gently stroked a male cat at rest in his lap.

Rubio is a physician for humans, but a cat lover by disposition. He spearheaded the effort to identify the Cuban blue as a new breed and hopes it will one day take its place alongside the world's five other cat breeds known as "blues."

Blue is a bit of a misnomer the cat world uses for cats that are actually gray. The other breeds are the Russian blue, the Chartreux, the Korat, the Nebelung and the British blue.

The Cuban blue looks similar to the Russian blue, and for a long time was believed to be the same breed, but that made no sense, Uriarte told Reuters on Thursday.

"We knew there were no Russian blues in Cuba because Russian blues are not very widespread in the world and none had ever arrived in Cuba," he explained.

So, last year, the cat association got serious about establishing the separateness of the Cuban breed by studying its body structure, fur qualities, eye shape and other details.   Continued...

<p>A Cuban Blue cat in Havana, May 25, 2011. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan</p>