21 Rare Cat Breeds You May Not Know About
Peterbald, Chartreux, LaPerm, and Sokoke – does any of these ring a bell? Well, pick a guess, but just a tip – not one of these names is that of a color, a hair treatment, a country, or a person.
The truth is, these are just some of the rare cat breeds in the world today. And we’re going to talk about them, and other rarest cat breeds in this article.
Although everyone considers their cat to be one in one million, pedigree cat owners can take this phrase literally.
According to the Cat Fanciers Association, with only 4% to 24% of owned cats being pedigreed, we can consider all purebred felines as rare.
And of course, just like any extraordinary and limited treasure, these rare cats are definitely a one in million marvels as with many rare animals.
- What Makes a Cat Breed Rare?
- 21 Most Beautiful Rare Cat Breeds in the World
- Final Thoughts
What Makes a Cat Breed Rare?
Cats have existed since the earliest days of history and remain trusted friends in the modern world. Some breeds of cats are rare in comparison to others in their family.
The reason that cat breed is considered a rarity depends on the breed, Teresa Keiger of Cat Fanciers' Association says. And the reason for that can be traced back to their roots, whether the breed is brand new or ancient.
“The breeds began with a limited number of cat species, which unless they are outcrossed for genetic diversity can't grow,” Keiger said. Also, some breeds are still new, so, there isn’t enough time for them to be recognized and accepted by the CFA, just yet.
Similarly, a rare cat breed can also result from the lack of available breeders who can continue their line. Without dedicated breeders, a breed can’t grow and thus, lose the chance to be known and established.
And of course, there’s also the opinion of the public. Some breeds become rare for the common and logical reason that other breeds are simply more popular.
No matter what the reason is, this group of 21 cat breeds may not be as widespread around the world as Persian or Siamese cats, but they are still cats that meow, and purr. So, if you are keen on having a rare cat breed, feel free to take a look at this list.
Once you’ve decided to get one, make sure to find a reputable breeder, which, of course, is applicable no matter what type of cat or dog you decide to rehome.
21 Most Beautiful Rare Cat Breeds in the World
1. American Bobtail
This rare cat breed was only recently accepted by the Cat Fanatic Association and has earned its special status. Not only are American bobtails uncommon, but they also possess very unique cat appearances.
They are medium to large, with a rectangular body shape. And one of their identifying characteristics is their short, and flexible tail.
While their tail is short and expressive – no two “behinds” are the same. Some are straight, while others have slightly curved tail, slightly kinked, or have bumps running along its limited length.
Their notable tail, combined with their other physical characteristics give them a distinctive wild appearance and noticeable resemblance to the bobtailed wildcat.
American Bobtail Cat is a slow-growing breed. It would take them 2-3 years before they can reach their mature size, but when they do reach that age, the wait is totally worth it.
Also, when fully mature, they are strong and thriving cats without any risk of serious illnesses or injuries.
2. American Wirehair
How is New York different from the rest of the United States? It is where American Wirehairs came from in the USA…through spontaneous genetic mutation.
All it took was some New Yorker farm cats and boom – a new breed was born in 1966 which descends from American Shorthair.
American Wirehair Cats have a coarse coat, but they're very friendly and relaxed companions. Their favorite pastime is playing with humans, as well as playing with their toys.
And though they have an exceptionally wiry coat that somewhat appears awry, they don't need that much grooming. Surprisingly, it's true that their coat is susceptible to damage from grooming. So, just let their coat grow!
The Burmilla has only become a breeding species over recent years. Well, let's just say, a frisky Chinchilla Persian male stumbled upon a Lilac Birman girl in an accident. But can you teach the heart not to fall in love during an accidental encounter with a complete stranger?
Hence, the first Burmilla cat litter was born in 1981 and all were black shaded silver in color. The Burmese ancestors are similar but Burmilla cats have more expressive faces, so, they appear to have sweeter appearances.
Burmilla cats detest labels about age as they exhibit numerous traits that they can be “kitten-like” even in early adulthood.
You can trust that they're an unrepentant house partner similar to Burmese cats and exhibit a laidback personality like Chinchilla Persian. It is indeed an exciting mix!
Chartreux cats are widely considered “the beloved smiling blue cat of France,” equipped with a blue-gray short hair coat.
Breeders have worked so hard to maintain Chartreux's popularity — particularly in America. But due to their French origins, the proliferation of this historic breed was greatly affected by WW2.
With just a quick look at their enchanting eyes, one can totally understand the efforts to keep this breed around.
Chartreux was introduced into the US as part of a vast campaign by Helen and John Gamón after their trip in Europe. Hence, the North Americans Chartreux have a very direct connection to their efforts!
It's also been said that this ancient breed was first spotted as a companion cat of the Carthusian monks in France, where they also learned to live and enjoy a quiet, monastic life. And that’s why Chartreux cats can be so quiet.
Nonetheless, whatever their backstory and origin, they make a devoted and great family pet. Also, nowadays, it's very difficult to find breeders in the United States, which explains why a Chartreux cat is a well-treasured rarity.
5. Devon Rex
Large eyes, short muzzle, short whiskers, and low-set large ears that extend beyond the side of their heard – these are just some of the distinguishing characteristics of a Devon Rex cat.
And no wonder that because of these facial features that evoke that of an extraterrestrial, they earned the monikers “Pixie Cat,” and “Alien Cat.”
This mischievous cat got its name from its place of origin: Devonshire, England. Apart from their memorable presence, they are also known for their fun and playful personalities.
6. Cornish Rex
The untrained eyes may easily confuse Cornish Rex and Devon Rex, but that’s totally understandable. These two separate breeds indeed look the same, and they both have “Rex” in their names, too. Some may even do a quick Google search to find out if they are the same breed or not.
Just like Devon Rex, the Cornish Rex cat also originated in the United Kingdom, particularly in Cornwall, where its name was derived from. At a glance, both breeds may look the same – they both have large ears and eyes.
However, after careful observation, one may notice that this unique breed has a distinctive curly coat, and they also come in many colors and patterns.
Cornish Rex cats also have longer legs, a narrow head, high cheekbones, a slimmer waist, and a long tail.
Personality-wise, they are also playful, charming, intelligent, and dog like in the sense that they love to snuggle, play fetch, and follow their owners like puppies. Undoubtedly, they would make an excellent family pet.
7. Egyptian Mau
The Egyptian Mau cat is one of many rare cats in existence with only 6700 enrolled by the Cat Fanciers' Association and it certainly is a rare breed of cats.
Aside from being rare, this domestic cat breed also has naturally-grown spots on its coats.
This athletic breed was once worshipped by pharaohs in Egypt, and today, they enjoy the loving company of their family. They are also possessive of their pet parents and their toys, and they love doing things their way.
8. Havana Brown
The Havana Brown cat was originally produced in England by breeders for a solid brown Siamese cat in the 1940s.
And the first Havana Brown cat in Northern America came from England in the 1950s. According to the Cat Fanciers' Association, almost all Havana Brown cats in Northern America can be traced back to this one cat! What an ancestor!
Despite their existence today, they were threatened with death during the 1990s. Thankfully this little one was able to stay with us.
The Havana Brown cats have a distinct chocolate brown fur, which follows you everywhere and satisfies your curiosity.
Highly intelligent, extremely loyal, expressive, and observant – these are just some of the words used by Korat pet parents to describe their rare treasure.
And as for the rest of the world who can see the beauty of this cat breed, a distinguishing factor that would not go unnoticed is their unique shimmering silver-blue color. This is also the only accepted color for Korat cats.
As their name suggests, Korat cats originated from Ampur Pimai of the Korat province in Thailand. And even in Thailand, they are considered rare because they are usually only given as gifts to bring good luck.
Also, according to PetMD, the rarity of this breed can be attributed to the limits in their breeding as Thai tradition dictates.
This is also one way to ensure that this rare gem of a cat can only be owned by people in the upper hierarchy or those who are fortunate enough to have been gifted a Korat.
10. Kurilian Bobtail
The Kurilian Bobtail is popular in its homeland Russia although it is not seen anywhere in North American territory. The International Cat Association estimates the existence of around 100 Kurilian Bobtails in US cities.
This cat breed is also a notorious shedder; so, they may not be the ideal pet for someone with fur allergies. Their coats are usually longer than most cats and require more care than the average household cat.
Nonetheless, these stub-tail beauties are truly worth all the efforts.
While LaPerm is definitely not a hair treatment, you are right in thinking that this rare cat breed’s name was derived from the perm, a popular hairstyle back in the 80s.
And by simply staring at this adorable cat’s kinky curls, you’ll know why such a name was given to them. LaPerm cats have a clownish and active personality and often get themselves into little troubles.
Manx Cats originated on the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea two to three hundred years ago, which is also where they got their name. The Manx cat was also one of the oldest species of cat in Ireland.
Since this Manx gene has dominance, this breed has rapidly expanded across the island. The Manx cat is also one of the first cat breeds of show cats and was a pioneering breed of the CFA.
In 2019, the Manx was the 31st best-loved cat breed by CFA registration number and is 2 places below Singapura. What makes the breed unique? Manx's genes are tailless, much like an American Bobtail's gene.
Do you fancy a munchkin sphynx with a cashmere-like coat? If you do, then, you’d definitely want to find reputable breeders of this rare cat breed, which is also referred to as the “Corgi of the Feline World” due to their short legs, muscular body, dense coat, and playful personality.
Also, by their look alone, one would already know that this breed is a result of intentional cross-breeding between Munchkin and Burmese cats, with the addition of Sphynx and Devon Rex cat breeds.
The cuddly Minskin is a new breed of cat that was only recognized as an official breed by the International Cat Association in 2008. And it was only in 1998 when this cat breed became available in Boston, Massachusetts.
14. Norwegian Forest Cat
During WWII it was virtually extinct and wore a waterproof jacket to protect it from the freezing winters of Scandinavia.
Their large, tough statures might seem intimidating, but these huge cats are social and love hanging around with humans. The Norwegian Forest Cats have an enduring fanbase in Europe but are seldom seen in the USA.
The small number of Peterbald breeders has made this cat one of the rare breeds of cats worldwide.
The Peterbald Cats originated from Russia, and they can either be totally hairless or with shorter hair that resembles a peach fuzz.
These cats can easily charm our hearts with their endearing personalities as well as their incredible athleticism!
The Serengeti has been developed by crossing Bengal and Oriental Short Hair with the desire to create a domestic cat with an exotic look.
They are a relatively new breed with just a few breeders in America, Europe, Australia, and Russia. Aside from their majestic stature, the Serengeti cat is an active feline that requires tons of attention and affection from their owners.
Singapura cats are relatively new breeds that explain their scarcity. They are first identified in Singapore, hence the name, and were imported by ex-pats in the 1970s. Those looking for constant companionship will find Singapuras an ideal choice.
These “pesky cats” always want to take their human companion from one point to another. They are also loyal and loving cats, and they are known to show affection to their owners even as they age.
These cats are undeniably cute, and they are known for their small stature, short-haired appearance with large eyes and ears. Once fully grown they can weigh anywhere between 5-8 pounds depending on their gender.
The UK’s Governing Council of the Cat Fanciers' considers the Sokoke as the rarest cat breed (domestic) in the world.
These felines are originally from the forested Sokoke region of eastern Kenya. Although originally viewed as a result of hybrid breeding from a wild cat, DNA testing has proved otherwise.
This fun, playful, and friendly cat breed can trace ancestry to Asian cats that migrated from the wild cats of the Arabian Peninsula.
The lovely and unusual Tonkinese cats originate from Canada and are a cross between Burman and Siamese.
Mixing them created the creation of an intelligent cat family that is engaging, intelligent, and vocal. This captivating cat breed is also popularly known for its aquamarine-colored eye, which makes them even more irresistible.
20. Turkish Angora
Turkish Angora cats are considered to be an important cultural treasure in Turkey. Seeing the classic golden-white coat will make you understand why!
These rare cats have long-lived. Apparently, these majestic cats have been written to date back to 16th-century France.
And their long hairs are most probably a result of having to adapt well to the cold winter in the Turkish mountains.
The current Turkish Angora breed is famous because they are loving and adaptable and are willing to accept other pets (including dogs).
21. Turkish Van
This Central Asian feline has not been seen outside of Turkey until the 1950s, and they made their way to the USA in the 1970s.
Despite their huge and muscular size, this cat breed is a vision of elegance – thanks to their semi-long hairy coat, which needs regular grooming to keep them in pristine condition.
Although Turkish Vans do not have very vocal characteristics, they let their wide expressive eyes speak.
To keep these curious cats happy, make sure to keep them engaged in fun activities, educational toys, and even an outdoor viewing platform that will allow them to observe their environment and be in awe at their surroundings even from a distance.
Did your cat’s breed make this list? Well, don’t worry – as a cat enthusiast, we know your love for your feline companion is more important than how rare or common their breed is.
And as mentioned above, some of these rare cat breeds are only scarce in numbers because of the following reasons:
- they only have limited breeders
- they are still new breeds that are not recognized yet
- they are being restricted to their location as much as possible due to their country of origin’s tradition (e.g. Turkish Van and Korat)
Whether you decide to pursue one of these rare cat breeds on this list or go for more common breeds, make sure to find a reputable breeder.
Or if you can, take time to visit a shelter near you. You’ll never know, your perfect match might just be purring and waiting a few blocks away from where you are.