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THE local Dilmun cats have evolved over the centuries to adapt to Bahrain’s extremely high summer temperatures, and are quite different from other domestic cats worldwide.
The Dilmun cats’ coats feel as soft as a silk Persian carpet, but according to the Cat Club of Bahrain (CCB), that may be the only soft thing about them.
Built to survive the hot desert climate, the cats have an Oriental build with slender, long bodies, high haunches and long, narrow legs and tails.
Their faces are also unusual; most have a wedge-shaped heads and ears that are wide at the base and oval tipped. The nose has a slight dip in its profile, and their eyes slant toward the ears, and are usually green or gold coloured.
The colour of Dilmun cats is also unusual. Although some are solid-coloured, many are what are called “spotted tabbies”.
CCB says this spotted tabby gene occurs only in Middle East cats, and notes that paintings in the tombs of the ancient Egyptians, dating back to 1400 BC, depict similar spotted cats.
While cat books and magazines claim that the Egyptian Mau cat is the only naturally occurring recognised breed of cat, and that all other spotted tabby cats (Oriental, Bengal and Occicat) are genetically manipulated man-made breeds, the CCB insists this is incorrect, as the Dilmun cat of Bahrain is also a natural spotted tabby cat.
The CCB is currently requesting official recognition to register and pedigree the Dilmun cats.
It is also seeking help from zoologists in determining the genetic makeup of the cat.