A note about The Cuddlywumps Chronicles

This blog is written and maintained by Miss Cuddlywumps, a fluffy-tailed calico cat who is both classically educated and familiar with mysteries. Comments or complaints should be addressed to Miss C rather than to author Roby Sweet. Ms. Sweet accepts no responsibility for Miss C's opinions.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Chinese Li Hua or Dragon Li Cat

  
Li Hua or Dragon Li cat
A Li Hua cat. The Li Hua is native to China. It sports a brown tabby
coat and has a strong build. These cats are known as excellent
rat catchers. They are also intelligent and mild-mannered.
Photo credit:English Wikipedia user Definitive1 [GFDL],
via Wikimedia Commons.
Just the name of this cat breed— Chinese Li Hua (pronounced lee-wah), Dragon Li, or Fox Flower Cat—brings up images of exotic and mysterious Eastern locales. Though the Li Hua is rare outside of China and was only admitted to the miscellaneous show class by the Cat Fanciers’ Association in 2010, it is an ancient breed that is well known and revered in its native land.


Affectionate  and strong

The Chinese Li Hua is a medium-sized cat with a brown mackerel-tabby coat. These cats are muscular, with a strong body and wide chest. They have large, almond-shaped eyes that can be green, brown, or yellow, and their ears are distinctively tipped. The Li Hua is known for being affectionate, intelligent, and mild-mannered. It is said that one of these cats learned to fetch the paper for his person. They are also renowned for their rodent-catching abilities.

An ancient, natural breed with a place in folklore

A Chinese mountain cat (F. s. bieti).
Li Huas are thought to be descended
from these wildcats native to China.
Photo credit: 西宁野生动物园
The Li Hua is considered a natural breed—that is, a breed that has arisen without human help. It is thought that these cats are descended from the local Chinese mountain cat (Felis silvestris bieti). This is a theory that has been repeated often, but so far as we know, it has not been proven—or disproven. DNA testing could shed light on this breed’s origins (not to mention the larger question of cat domestication), and we hope to hear of some in the near future.

Whatever their exact origins, the Li Hua has shown up in Chinese folklore for centuries. In one story, cats ruled the world and could even speak, but they decided they’d get a better deal if they turned all the responsibility (and talking) over to humans. With the humans doing all the work of keeping the world in order, the cats could, you know, sleep a lot.

These cats continue to hold a special place in the lives of their people. In China, owners of Li Huas are even known to hold wedding ceremonies for their cats.


The Li Hua is accepted as a breed worth showing

Despite that fact that they’ve been around for centuries, it was only in 2003 that the Li Hua was recognized as an experimental breed by the Cat Aficionado Association in China. In 2010, two of these cats were brought to the United States to be presented to the Cat Fanciers’ Association, which decided that the Li Hua could be shown in the miscellaneous class. They were first shown in Dallas, Texas. One of these cats, Lihua China Zhong Guo (“China” for short), went on to appear at many cat shows, letting more people in America learn about the breed.

As of 2013 (the most recent number we could find), there were only six Li Huas in the United States, so the breed does not seem to be catching on like wildfire, though that may change as more people recognize the Dragon Li’s temperament and nobility.

Sources

Dragon Li.” Wikipedia.

Pickeral, Tamsin. The Elegance of the Cat: An Illustrated History. Hauppage, NY: Barron’s, 2013.

Rare Chinese Cat Coming to Weekend Show Here.” San Diego Union-Tribune. January 21, 2011.


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