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What Breed Is Garfield The Cat?

There are few cats more recognizable than Garfield, but do we actually know his breed?

Tara Maurer holding cat smiling

Last Updated: December 4, 2023 | 6 min read

Garfield cat laying down.

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Are you curious about the Garfield cat breed? We know Garfield as the sardonic orange cat who loves lasagna and hates Mondays. The fictional feline and central character of the comic strip by the same name has appeared in newspapers for 45 years, amassing at one time an audience of 200 million regular readers in 80 countries.

Throughout this time, Garfield’s appearance has evolved, but one thing always remains the same: he’s an orange tabby. But as cat lovers know, a “tabby” describes a stripy pattern of a cat’s coat—not their breed. 

According to creator Jim Davis, he got the inspiration for Garfield from a combination of features he saw while living on his family farm that housed 25 cats. This revelation then likely makes Garfield a domestic shorthair, not belonging to any particular breed, but rather the “mutt” of the cat world. Despite this, many people theorize that Garfield displays the characteristics of some of our favorite pedigree breeds: Persian, Exotic Shorthair, British Shorthair, and Maine Coon. 

What Kind Of Cat Is Garfield?

Since his debut in 1978, Garfield has taken many forms—from a three-panel comic to the big screen to the shelves in stores. Let’s look at the significant appearance and personality developments over the years.

When Davis first introduced Garfield, he was a fat, lazy, tabby cat with a round body, bulbous cheeks, and itty bitty eyes. We later learn that Garfield was born in the kitchen of an Italian restaurant. Weighing five pounds, six ounces at birth, our lovable curmudgeon was already a large cat, but his passion for Italian food helped to expand his belly.

Eventually, the restaurant owner was forced to choose between Garfield and shutting down his restaurant for lack of pasta. Garfield was sold to a pet store, where he eventually met his human companion, Jon Arbuckle, and Odie, Arbuckle’s lovable yet dopey pup.

Garfield considers Odie to be his friend (so he’s good with dogs). His favorite “toy” is Pooky, a teddy bear Garfield found in a dresser. Garfield’s nemesis is Nermal, the self-referred “World’s Cutest Kitten.” Garfield loves lasagna, naps, and his teddy bear, Pooky. He dislikes Mondays, exercise, and Nermal.

Over the years, Garfield’s appearance changes. He becomes smaller, less full-figured. His jowls look smaller, and his eyes appear more prominent. Plus, he starts walking on two feet. Still, he consistently appears as an orange mackerel tabby.

Garfield displays some stereotypical “orange cat behavior.” He’s feisty and enjoys a bit of chaos. Defying the stereotype that says orange cats share one communal brain cell, Garfield is no dummy. He is astute for a house cat, with comparable intelligence to a human.

What Is A Mackerel Tabby Cat?

Tabby cats can be found in five distinct patterns. The Garf is a mackerel tabby, meaning that he has narrow stripes that run down his sides in a vertical pattern. This coat style gives the mackerel tabby a tiger-like appearance, which can be distinctly seen on Garfield.

Other tabby cat patterns include:

  • Classic: Also called the “blotched tabby,” this cat’s coat has swirling patterns on their sides, similar to a marble cake.
  • Spotted: The spotted tabby has round, oval, or rosette spots throughout its coat, sometimes appearing to be broken mackerel stripes.
  • Ticked: Ticked tabbies will have stripes by their eyes, across their cheeks, and around their legs and tails. Otherwise, the ticked gene is masked on the body.
  • Patched: Also called a “torbie,” the patched tabby displays the colored patches of the tortoiseshell cat and tabby patterns.

What Is The Garfield Cat Breed?

Garfield’s appearance has changed over the years, and during this time, enthusiasts have likened him to certain breeds. For example, in his early years, people theorized he looked more like a real Exotic Shorthair, thanks to his depiction as a round, fat cat with a small, flat face and big, round cheeks.

Let’s look at the top four breeds Garfield is compared to the most.

Persian Cat

Persian cat with orange face walking by a door.
Both Persians and Garfield fare well with dogs and—most of the time—other felines.

Most fan theories liken Garfield to the Persian cat. Physically, they share many similarities. Both cats are heavily boned, with large heads, short snouts, full muzzles, and large eyes. Some orange Persian tabbies have lighter-colored markings around their mouth, similar to Garfield.

What other similarities do Persians and Garfield share? Both display an aversion to high-intensity exercise. Just like the Garf, Persian cats enjoy having their feet firmly planted on the ground. They aren’t huge into jumping and climbing; they would much rather relax in their favorite window or chair.

Regarding personality, it initially appears that the two could not be more different. Persians are typically sweet-tempered, gentle, and loving. According to the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), tabbies are the extroverts of the Persian cat breed, considered to be more outgoing and playful.

Do any of these characteristics align with our beloved grumpy cat? Garfield is sarcastic, selfish, and cynical. But he also really loves his owner, Jon. In an early comic strip, Garfield cuddles onto Jon’s lap to purr when Jon is feeling lonely. Some fans theorize that Garfield hates Mondays because his human, Jon, must leave for work.

While the Persian breed is affectionate and loving, these characteristics can also make them prone to feeling jealous if they don’t get the attention they require. Could this be why the Garf despises Nermal?

Exotic Shorthair

Exotic Shorthair cat with white fur on a white background.
Obesity and diet management are concerns for both Garfield and the Exotic Shorthair.

Exotic Shorthairs are almost identical to the Persian breed aside from one trait: instead of a long, flowing coat like the Persian, the Exotic Shorthair has a thick, dense, short coat. This coat gives them a rounded, teddy bear appearance likened to early Garfield comics.

Like the Persian and the Garf, Exotic Shorthairs have rounded bodies, massive heads, full cheeks, doll-like eyes, and short-flat noses. Their dense coats give them an extra plushy look.

They display similar activity levels to the Persian, though some breeders say Exotic Shorthair kittens are first to do everything, from opening their eyes to eating. Does being slightly more active make the Exotic Shorthair a better breed choice for Garfield? Maybe. While Garfield loves his sleep, he’s always up to something, whether it be tormenting Jon, scratching the curtains, stealing food, or hunting birds in the backyard. Still, like the Exotic Shorthair, Garfield enjoys simple pleasures: a good nap spot and a yummy meal.

They gain weight easily and need an appropriate diet (not lasagna, to Garfield’s chagrin) to avoid associated health problems. Overall, the Exotic Shorthair’s laid-back personality, combined with a somewhat livelier lifestyle than the Persian, makes Garfield being an Exotic Shorthair a good theory.

British Shorthair

British Shorthair Garfield cat sitting in window sill.
Unlike Garfield, British Shorthairs are affectionate, easily trained, and very adaptable.

Let’s step away from the Garfield comic momentarily and explore Garf on the big screen. “Garfield: The Movie” is a 2004 live-action comedy featuring our favorite sarcastic orange cat. And when you look at Garfield’s portrayal in the film, I would argue he looks most like a ginger tabby British Shorthair.

What features do British Shorthairs and the Garf share? Sturdy bodies, short hair, big heads, large eyes, short snouts, and well-developed muzzles with round whisker pads.

Comparing other characteristics, both are generally easygoing and intelligent. Both can be vocal in expressing their needs, usually for food or attention. They enjoy spending time with their families but aren’t major lap cats or particularly cuddly or clingy.

According to the CFA, British Shorthairs are safe around pets of all kinds, including rabbits and birds. This is a significant departure from Garf. While Garfield enjoys befriending mice (or at least not eating them), he abuses Odie the dog, eats Jon’s goldfish, squashes spiders, and hunts birds. While I wouldn’t consider Garfield an expert hunter, he also isn’t safe to have around most small animals.

Maine Coon

A large red fluffy maine coon cat lies on a carpet licking.
Our last major theory is that Garfield is a Maine Coon.

Like Maine Coons, Garf is a large cat. He was born weighing five pounds, six ounces. Typically, a newborn kitten weighs between 3 to 4 ounces—not pounds. While Maine Coons are slow to mature, at their adult size, they can weigh as much as 25 pounds.

Despite this, the Maine Coon looks quite different from Garfield in the face. Where Garf has a large, round head, the Maine Coon’s head shape is medium in width and slightly longer in length. Garfield has a rounded muzzle with a short nose, vs. the Maine Coon’s square muzzle and longer nose.

While both are intelligent and loving to family members, Maine Coons are far more friendly and gentle. These cats didn’t receive the moniker “Gentle Giant” for nothing. In contrast, Garfield is known to be brash, rude, and even aggressive at times.

Finally, Maine Coons are praised for their mousing abilities, whereas Garfield is far too lazy to chase them. He also considers eating mice repugnant and eventually befriends some of the mice in his home.

Choosing A Garfield Cat Breed

When it comes down to it, any orange tabby can be considered the Garfield cat breed, including Turkish Angoras, Munchkins, and American Shorthairs. Ready to acquire a “Garfield cat” breed of your own? Explore our articles on Persian, British Shorthair, and Maine Coon cats.

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