Depending on which source you use there are between 44 and 73 recognised cat breeds in the world. But what makes for rare cat breeds?
Each year the Cat Fanciers Association releases a report listing cat breeds based on the number of cats registered for each breed in the last year. This, of course, tends to correlate with the number of cats born under that breed each year.
The bottom of the list for breed births then become rare cat breeds. In its most recent report the Cat Fanciers Association recognized 45 pedigrees of cats.
There is no rule as to at which ranking a pedigree becomes a rare cat breed. So this post is based on 22 cat breeds which are near the bottom of the latest list.
- 1 22 Rare Cat Breeds
- 1.1 1. Scottish Fold Cat Breed
- 1.2 2. Norwegian Forest Cat
- 1.3 3. Turkish Angora
- 1.4 4. American Bobtail
- 1.5 5. Burmilla
- 1.6 6. Devon Rex
- 1.7 7. Eyptian Mau
- 1.8 8. Tonkinese Cat Breed
- 1.9 9. Chartreux Cat Breed
- 1.10 10. Peterbald Cat Breed
- 1.11 11. Sokoke Cat Breed
- 1.12 12. Bombay Cats
- 1.13 13. Selkirk Rex Cats
- 1.14 14. American Wirehair Cat
- 1.15 15. Sphynx Cats
- 1.16 16. Korat Cat Breed
- 1.17 17. Ashera
- 1.18 18. Ocicat
- 1.19 19. Cornish Rex Cat Breed
- 1.20 20. Singapura Cats
- 1.21 21. Havana Brown
- 1.22 22. Minskin Cat Breed
22 Rare Cat Breeds
1. Scottish Fold Cat Breed
Scottish Fold cats, named for their unusual folded ears and striking, yellowish-orange eye colors, these kitties just love to be around people. These easy-going cats have a great personality and get along with anyone.
As active mousers, Scottish fold cats are playful, sensitive, and expressive. These joyful felines have a habit of posing in odd positions – sitting upright as if they were a meerkat, lying flat on the floor, or on their backs with their paws in the air.
They are moderately active and enjoy toys that test their agility and challenge their intelligence, like puzzle toys. Scottish fold cats crave attention and make great companions, so expect to play with them when you get home from work or school.
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2. Norwegian Forest Cat
When their coat has fully come in they are a sight to behold. They often come out in a full mane, fluffy chest, furry legs and even tufts of fur between their toes.
As a result, these friendly cats do require daily grooming. Their ears also often get tufts of fur which needs to be groomed. The Norwegian Forest Cat actually has a double coat with one being weatherproof.
3. Turkish Angora
Turkish Angora cats are known for their long, silky coats which often becomes longest around the cat’s neck. They are an adorable combination of large ears, almond shaped eyes and a small to medium sized head.
Originally from Turkey (you may have guessed this), the earliest records of the Turkish Angora cat are from the 16th century. However, the breed began to disappear in the early 19th century.
The Turkish Angora was bred at the Ankara Zoo to preserve its pedigree and breed was officially established in North America in the 1970s.
These friendly and gentle cats also have a more boisterous side and love run, jump and explore. He loves to play and will do almost anything to get your attention.
This cat breed will maintain the playfulness they exhibit as kittens throughout their lives. They will enjoy curling up next to you and on you on both the couch and your bed.
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4. American Bobtail
With a short tail, tufted ears and toes and a slightly short neck the American Bobtail cat breed screams cuddle me.
The American bobtail was a feral cat that was not bred until the 1960s.
This playful breed is great with families and gets on well with strangers. Many compare his personality with that of a golden retriever dog. This is a devoted and loyal breed that also often enjoys going out on walks.
This intelligent cat breed loves a puzzle or a game and playing fetch. He is also a curious kitty who is quite easy going so well suited to travel and outdoor adventures.
Burmilla cats are one of the cutest and cuddliest kitties you’ll find. These adorable sacks of fur bring together, in one sweet package, a mixture of the Burmese and Chinchilla.
This breed originated in the United Kingdom in 1981 so it is a relatively new breed. The breed came about accidentally with the unexpected mating of a Burmese cat and a Chincilla Persian.
With broad, shallow muzzles and massive, round eyes, Burmilla cats are among the most expensive flat-faced cat breeds – along with Himalayans and Persians. However, because of their well-defined chin, their faces don’t look as smooshed as the others.
Overall, these kitties are not only famous for their relatively flat-faces but also because they are beautiful, make great family pets, and love cuddles.
6. Devon Rex
The mischievous Devon Rex cat, also known as the pixie cat, is a loving and loyal feline breed. They make the ideal companions and welcome family and friends’ attention, as well as being great with kids and other pets.
This cat breed emerged in England during the late 1950s and is similar to the nearby Cornish Rex cat breed.
These felines are intelligent, active, and require regular stimulation. Devon Rex cats are jumpers, and their favorite place is at head level, so perches and cat trees should be provided.
The moderately active cat enjoys learning and playing fetch, so interactive toys will also help keep him occupied while you’re out earning money.
This indoor cat breed has slender bodies with long legs, large eyes, and high cheekbones. They shouldn’t be brushed as their fur is prone to breakage; instead, rub the Devon Rex cat gently with a cloth to keep them well-groomed, weekly.
7. Eyptian Mau
A rare breed with a beautifully spotted coat, the Egyptian Mau cat is a historic breed. It has a medium-sized but muscular build, with longer hind legs. They are the fastest domestic cat breed in the world!
Egyptian Mau cats prefer heat and are quite sensitive to temperature. So if you live somewhere very cold, keep this in mind.
With a balanced temperament and a preference for activity, it’s best to have a large garden for your Mau cat. They’re very loyal and cheerful, and love snuggles. Smart enough to turn on the faucet, Egyptian Mau cats also love playing with water.
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8. Tonkinese Cat Breed
This playful kitty maintains its playful instincts all of its life. They love to run, play fetch, answer the door, and more. Tonkinese cats are very social and much prefer company to being alone.
The Tonkinese breed is believed to have been brought to the UK in the early 1800s and called Chocolate Siamese. In the USA, the Tonkinese breed was developed from the Siamese and Burmese breeds to provide a more moderate breed and to have aqua eyes.
This breed was developed in the 1960s and 1970s. These medium-sized cats can be quite strong and have short, silky hair.
9. Chartreux Cat Breed
The Chartreux cat is known as one of the most polite breeds – not a word normally associated with cats! This is one kitty that doesn’t like to complain and will be not just your friend but a friend to any guests as well.
This French cat can be traced back to ancient Persia and was believed to have come to France from those returning from the crusades. Many took up residence in monasteries, and this is believed to be the origin of the breed.
One of the reasons that the Chartreux is rare is that it is also an expensive cat breed with average prices for a Charteux kitten between USD $1000 and $1500.
This rare cat breed is a great option for a busy person who lives on their own or a busy couple/family. It likes to play but this desire generally comes in spurts. And this is a breed which is quite good at entertaining itself.
10. Peterbald Cat Breed
The Peterbald cat is a strange little fellow. With hairless, grey-silver skin, a slanted face, and large pointy ears, this Russian cat breed has certainly earned its place on this list.
Created from experimental breeding, this cat first popped its head out in 1994, at St. Petersburg. This is why it’s named Peterbald (I’m sure you can guess where the bald part comes from). And one of the main reasons that this is quite a rare cat breed.
Originally a cross between a hairless Donskoy and an Oriental Shorthair, these cats quickly grew in popularity in their home country.
Since Peterbald cats don’t have any fur to keep them warm, they need to be kept indoors during the cooler seasons, as they might otherwise get too chilly.
They require a little bit more cat care than other breeds because they need to be bathed weekly in order to keep their coats from getting oily and attracting dirt.
These cats have wonderfully affectionate personalities and are often found shadowing their loved ones. Peterbald cats love attention and are very active cats in general, as well as being very loyal and loving. Their personalities are regularly likened to that of canines.
So if you haven’t decided whether you’re more of a cat or a dog person, the Peterbald is a great choice of cat companion and it is unlikely that you’ll find many other examples of this cat breed in your neighborhood!
11. Sokoke Cat Breed
This lean, medium-sized tabby cat is often referred to as the rarest cat breed in the world. The breed was developed in the 1970s in Kenya.
The Sokoke breed is based on the khadzonzo breed which roam coastal Kenya freely. They were discovered by the West in the late 1970s. At that point they were nearly extinct.
These kitties are very active and like to climb. They bond closely with their humans as well as any other cats and can be quite vocal. They are better suited to warmer climates.
12. Bombay Cats
Bombay cats are flat-faced felines that love affection. They enjoy meeting and greeting you at the door and can get along well with other pets and children. These kitties are big softies, with personalities as soft as their coats.
Bombay Cats look like mini black panther look-alikes have black coats and piercing yellow eyes with medium-sized, muscular frames, rounded heads and flat faces.
You’ll often find them nestled at the top of their cat tree, having the ideal viewpoint of their world below.
These are playful kitties with natural curiosity and athleticism, so you should be able to keep them occupied with toys like cat balls. Like their ancestors, the Burmese, Bombay cats have almost no undercoat and require weekly brushing.
13. Selkirk Rex Cats
Selkirk Rex cats are simply lovable little fur babies, adored for their plush tousled coats and exquisite, smooshy flat-faces. In addition to their adorable curly coats, their whiskers curl too, how cute!
With big round eyes and an almost smiling expression, these felines love to be cuddled and will follow you around for attention.
Nicknamed ‘cats in sheep’s clothing,’ Selkirk rex cats may need occasional brushing – at least two or three times a week. Unlike many other flat-faced cats, the Selkirk Rex cat is not prone to tear duct issues.
They’re easily entertained with a flashlight beam or a fishing pole toy. Although not particularly active, these cuties are social. They’ll love to sit on your lap and let you feel their curly-q’s as the sun goes down.
14. American Wirehair Cat
Another rare breed of domestic cat, the American Wirehair cat is characterized by its unique coat of springy, crimped hairs.
Wirehair cats are stocky and strong, with a calm but sociable personality. They love playtime but aren’t very talkative. They also bond with every member of the household, making them an easy part of the family. American wirehair cats love to spend time soaking up the sun.
All Wirehairs can be traced back to a spontaneous mutation that occurred in 1966. That’s why they’re such a rare breed – their unusual coat simply can’t be replicated.
15. Sphynx Cats
A very unusual and pricey cat breed is the regal Sphynx. Well-known for its hairless coat, the Sphynx cat is a wonderfully friendly and playful cat – and they’re certainly striking.
The Sphynx cat breed is not actually hairless – it’s covered in a light downy layer of hair that feels like suede or peach fuzz.
Despite their stern expression, Sphynx cats are energetic and often goofy tricksters. Acrobatic, energetic, and curious, you’ll see them bouncing around the home with enthusiasm. They’re also very loyal cats, and this expensive cat breed loves to be involved in family activities.
Because of their energetic and loving personality, the Sphynx takes a fair bit of work. They’re also susceptible to sunburn and skin damage, as well as getting cold easily. This makes them best suited to the indoors – but there are cat sweaters you can get to keep your Sphynx snug and safe.
16. Korat Cat Breed
These handsome kitties are very outgoing and live a long life – between 15 and 20 years on average. They are very loving and like to follow their owners everywhere – even into the bathroom.
Korats have stunning blue or grey coats that seem to shimmer and become almost silver at the ends. Their beautiful coats are then complimented by their lovely green eyes.
Their coats are very fine so they don’t require much grooming. Once a week should suffice for a brush and add in a chamois cloth rub to buff up their sheen. Korat cats tend to very much enjoy being groomed.
The Korat cat breed has been around for over 600 years and originated in the Korat region of Thailand. In 1959 an American ambassador visiting Thailand was given two korat cats and this is when the breed made its way to the United States.
As the breed is quite rare this is an expensive cat breed.
The Ashera is another new and rare cat breed – key drivers of expensive cat breeds. The breed developed from cross breeding the African Serval Cat and the Asian leopard cat. This beautiful kitty has contrasting stripes and spots.
This is a big cat breed – Ashera cats can reach 4 feet tall when on their hind legs. This breed loves to climb and to play. They can also be trained to go on walks.
As the Ashera breed comes from warm climate breeds, they may need more warmth in the winter if you live in a cold climate. And whilst the Ashera may be one of the most expensive cat breeds in the world, they have an average life span of 25 years. This is considerably longer than most other cat breeds so you will get your money’s worth in the amount of time you have to love your Ashera cat.
This playful cat breed loves attention. The Ocicat resembles a wild cat but is very playful and loving. They are a medium to large cat breed with a smooth coat. Their markings are distributed across their bodies – and each hair on their coat contains more than one colour.
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The Ocicat breed was created by crossing Siamese and Abyssinian cats together and then later breeding with an American domestic short hair. The breed was registered in 1966.
Ocicats love to play and will see most items in your home as potential toys. They are also friendly cats who like to welcome strangers. They don’t like being alone and do get bored easily so a sibling is often a good idea.
They are high energy and highly intelligent so need lots of stimuli. They don’t have any special exercise needs and unlike many other cat breeds they like water so watch out if you’re having a bath.
19. Cornish Rex Cat Breed
The Cornish Rex cat has a head shaped liked a triangle. As a result, its eyes and ears are prominent and large. The eyes of the Cornish Rex cat tend to be golden in colour although that can vary.
The Cornish Rex cat breed has no hair apart from some down. Their coat is very fine and can sometimes get a bit of a curl. The lack of fur can emphasise those big eyes and ears even more.
This cat breed is often compared to greyhound dogs due to their sleek appearance and they like a long, lolling run. This is a very adventurous breed that loves to explore and will keep its playful demeanor long after its kitten days are finished.
20. Singapura Cats
Singapura cats have captivating little spirits, ready to steal your heart away. These lovely felines are a playful, cheeky, and friendly cat breed. You’ll often find them under a duvet cover or lying in the sunshine.
The Singapura is one of the smallest cat breeds, which means its almond shaped eyes and larger ears really pop. Singpura cats tend to look like they constantly have their eyes open as wide as possible.
With a similar temperament to the Burmese cat, they are full of mischief, are affectionate, and extremely inquisitive. Singapura cats enjoy chasing balls down the hall or tap dancing on keyboards.
These fun-loving cats love people and get along easily with other pets in the house – making them ideal for the indoors.
21. Havana Brown
In the 1950s a group of cat fanciers decided to breed Siamese and domestic black cats and the end result was the Havana Brown. As you may have guessed, this breed has wonderful chocolate brown coats and dazzling green eyes. They are loyal and affectionate pets and great with families.
The Havana Brown is slightly different to the Havana cat breed. The Havana cat breed was developed to be a brown cat but it never quite go there. In 2007 further work on breeding was done to cement the chocolate brown colour and the Havana Brown was born. As a result, this is quite a rare cat breed.
22. Minskin Cat Breed
Minskin cats have quite stocky bodies and rather short lets. Their coat is unique due to its lack of fur. The Minskin breed was created from the Sphynx cat breed. This is a relatively new breed of cat. It was first developed in 1998 in Boston.
The breeder crossed his Munchkin cat with a Sphynx for a healthier immune system. By 2005, 50 cats could be called Minskins and this new breed was recognised. As you will have seen throughout this post, rare cat breeds are often quite new which means that they have yet to breed extensively.
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