Written by Katrina

Modified & Updated: 15 May 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith

rare cat breeds, Beautiful rare breed of cat Mekongsky Bobtail

If you’re an aspiring cat owner, then you might have noticed that some cat breeds are harder to find than others. Rare cat breeds are low in numbers but high in demand. This makes them not only hard to find but also incredibly pricey. However, their value doesn’t just lie in their rarity. These cat breeds are special in distinct ways, such as their unique appearance, skills, and personality. If you’re interested in learning more about these rare cat breeds, then keep on reading!

Why are some cat breeds rarer than others?

Like any other species, cats have breeds that are rarer than others. Rare cat breeds refer to cat breeds with only small populations. The reason behind these small numbers differs per cat breed.

Some cat breeds are rarer than others because their population has depleted over the years, while some cat breeds are still relatively young. Not enough time has passed for these younger cat breeds, so their population is still small and considered rare.

Another reason behind rare cat breeds is the lack of breeders. Breeders usually focus on popular cat breeds with high demand, and because rarer cat breeds are often less popular, breeders don’t believe there is enough demand for them. Most breeders don’t think breeding rare cat breeds will help their business.

These are only some factors that organizations consider. Different organizations have different criteria for recognizing cat breeds, so some will record more numbers than others. Some of these organizations include the International Cat Association (TICA), Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFe), and the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA).

The Cat Fanciers’ Association has the world’s largest registry of pedigreed cats. Every year, they collect data from cat breeders and owners. Based on the data they collect, they conclude that cats with the fewest registrations among breeders and owners are rare cat breeds.

What are the rare cat breeds?


Rare Cat Breeds: Ashera
Image from Wikimedia Commons

The Ashera cat is a hybrid of the African Serval, Asian Leopard, and domesticated cat. It is one of the “designer cats” by Lifestyle Pets, an animal breeding company in the US.

Given its parents, the Ashera cat is ‌big, and they weigh around 30 lbs. They might seem scary at first, especially with how their fur pattern resembles a snow leopard. But Ashera cats are friendly creatures. Like most domestic cats, they are loyal and affectionate. Unfortunately, they are not for everybody.

Among rare cat breeds, the Ashera cat is one of the most expensive. In fact, one Ashera cat can cost you $125,000. The breeding company only produces around five Ashera cats per year, making them incredibly rare.

American Bobtail

American Bobtail
Image from Adobe Stock

One of the United States’ rare cat breeds is the American Bobtail. which first appeared in the country in the 1960s. Before breeders took interest in them, this cat breed naturally developed from a random genetic mutation among domestic cats. The Manx gene caused their tails to be bobbed or one-third to one-half the average length.

The American bobtail is usually around 9 to 10 in. tall with an average weight of 7 to 16 lbs. Their fur can either be short or long, and they come in different colors and patterns.

If you’re looking for a pet companion, then the American bobtail is a great choice. For one, they are ‌friendly and adventurous. In fact, many breeders and owners describe this cat breed as “dog-like” because of its playfulness. They also have a life expectancy of 11 to 15 years.

American Wirehair

American Wirehair
Image from Adobe Stock

Another rare cat breed from the US is the American Wirehair. This cat breed first appeared in New York in the 1960s. At the time, an American Shorthair was born with a random mutation, making its fur short and wiry. Breeders immediately took interest, and the American wirehair’s population slowly grew.

The American wirehair is around 9 to 11 in. tall with an average weight of 8 to 15 lbs. Their fur comes in a variety of colors and patterns, and they also don’t shed much.

Compared to other rare cat breeds, the American wirehair is much less popular. However, this cat breed is an ideal pet. American wirehairs are adaptable to all kinds of environments. They are also even-tempered, which makes them great for kids.


Balinese cat
Image from Adobe Stock

Balinese cats get their name from the Indonesian island of Bali. The first breeder chose this name as a reference to the graceful movements of Balinese dancers. That’s as far as the connection goes, however, since they actually originated in the United States, first appearing in the 1950s. They are a long-haired breed of Siamese cats with the same fur pattern and blue eyes.

Balinese cats, however, have longer hair. They have an average height of 8 to 11 in., and they usually weigh around 5 to 12 lbs.

With a life expectancy of 10 to 20 years, these cats can be your companion for a long time. Balinese cats are also alert and outgoing cats who love to climb and play. They are also affectionate and sensitive, making them ideal pets.


Bombay cat
Image from Adobe Stock

To many, Bombay cats are among the most beautiful rare cat breeds. Bombay cats have plain black fur with golden eyes. They originated in Kentucky in the 1950s, when a breeder wanted to create a cat breed that looked like a black panther.

Bombay cats certainly look like smaller black panthers. They are usually around 9 to 13 in. tall and can weigh from 8 to 15 lbs.

Bombay cats are lively pets who often enjoy leash training. In fact, they often compete in cat shows. However, they still do well as simply household pets. Bombay cats are social creatures who love attention.


Burmilla cat
Image from Adobe Stock

Burmilla cats originated in the United Kingdom in the 1980s. This cat breed is a hybrid of the Chincilla Persian and Burmese cats. Despite being an established cat breed in the UK, they are still rare in the US.

Burmilla cats are usually 8 to 10 in. tall, and they weigh around 8 to 15 lbs. Cats under this breed can have short or long fur, but they only have white, gray, or silver coats. They also have distinct green eyes.

They are ‌friendly and sociable creatures, but they can also be independent. Burmilla cats like to sneak off and explore their surroundings by themselves, so they won’t do well in stuffy cages. It’s best to let Burmilla cats roam free in a safe environment.


Rare Cat Breeds: Chartreux
Image from Pixabay

The Chartreux cat is among the rare cat breeds from France. This cat breed is referenced in several pieces of French literature, with the first mention dating back to the 16th century. The Chartreux did not appear in the US until the 1970s.

Chartreux cats are usually 9 to 11 in. tall and 6 to 12 lbs. heavy. This cat breed has distinct gray fur and yellow eyes. They also have short yet muscular limbs and fast reflexes. In fact, these cats are famous for their excellent hunting skills. They are expert mouse catchers, so they are popular with farmers.

Chartreux cats are also popular among pet owners for their cute “smile”. Their head shape and tapered muzzles make it seem like they are always smiling. Their appearance certainly matches their personality as they are very loving and sweet.

Cornish Rex

Cornish Rex
Image from Adobe Stock

Like most rare cat breeds, the Cornish Rex is relatively young. In fact, it wasn’t until 1964 that the CFA officially recognized them as a breed. The Cornish Rex originated in England in 1950. Among the litter of a British Shorthair was a kitten that looked different because of a natural mutation. The kitten had tight, curly hair, big ears, and long legs, and it grew up to be the first Cornish Rex.

Most Cornish Rex cats are small, with slender bodies. Their fur colors and patterns vary as some are white, blue, or brown.

This cat breed is friendly and adaptable. They get along well with children and dogs. They also have a lot of energy and will most likely climb the tallest furniture in your house.

Colorpoint Shorthair

Colorpoint Shorthair
Image from Adobe Stock

Some registries don’t consider the Colorpoint Shorthair a breed of its own. They only regard them as a variety of the Siamese cat. The Cat Fanciers’ Association, however, identifies the Colorpoint Shorthair as one.

The Colorpoint Shorthair is a hybrid of the Siamese cat and the American Shorthair. Most Colorpoint Shorthairs are 11 to 14 in. tall with an average body weight of 6 to 12 lbs. Similar to the Siamese cat, they are pointed cats with red, cream, or tabby colors.

Among rare cat breeds, the Colorpoint Shorthair is very talkative. They are also athletic creatures who like to move around. This makes them great pets for those who live an active lifestyle.

Egyptian Mau

Rare Cat Breeds: Egyptian Mau
Image from Wikimedia Commons

As its name suggests, the Egyptian Mau originated in Egypt. Depicted in ancient texts and art, the Egyptians revered spotted cats, which were believed to be the Egyptian Maus.

Egyptian Maus are beautiful medium-sized cats. Their average height is 7 to 11 in., while their weight ranges from 8 to 12 lbs. This cat breed has short, spotted fur, and its colors vary from black to gray to brown.

Among rare cat breeds, the Egyptian Mau is the fastest domestic cat. It has a speed of 30 miles per hour. This athleticism isn’t the only reason ‌many desire an Egyptian Mau of their own. These cats are also very smart. They can even learn how to turn on the faucet!

European Burmese

European Burmese cats
Image from Pet Guide

Unlike most rare cat breeds, European Burmese cats come in several colors. Some have red fur, while some have lilac. This cat breed is medium-sized, with a height of 10 to 12 in. Their average body weight is usually 6 to 10 lbs.

For owners looking for low-maintenance pets, consider this cat breed. They don’t shed as much as other cats, so they are easier to groom.

European Burmese cats are also affectionate. They are loyal and friendly, even with strangers. They also get along well with other pets, including dogs.

Havana Brown

Havana Brown cat
Image from Adobe Stock

The Havana Brown originated in England in the 1950s. This cat breed is a cross between the Siamese cat and domestic black cats. This combination resulted in a hybrid cat with chocolate brown fur and bright green eyes.

Most Havana Brown cats are 9 to 11 in. tall and 6 to 10 lbs. in weight. Their fur ranges from a reddish-brown to a black-brown color.

These cats are mischievous little creatures. They like to pass the time by playing puzzles and running around the house. Their outgoing nature makes them great pets for kids, but they ‌require a lot of attention. They love to cuddle with their owners.

Khao Manee

Odd-Eye Khao Manee
Image from Wikimedia Commons

Next on this list of rare cat breeds is the Khao Manee cat. Originating in Thailand, the Khao Manee cat has a long history. The Tamra Maew, or “Treatise on Cats”, is a historical text from 19th-century Thailand that mentions the Khao Manee cat.

The Khao Manee cat has pure white fur with a short and smooth coat. Some cats have blue or gold eyes, while some have odd eyes or one blue eye and one gold eye. Because of their unique features, people also call this breed the “Diamond Eye cat” or the “White Cat of Thailand”.

Khao Manee cats are around 10 to 12 in. tall with a weight of 8 to 10 lbs. Their pristine white fur makes them look innocent, but they are a mischievous bunch. They are energetic and smart cats who like to play.

They are also ideal pets for those who have kids or dogs as Khao Manee cats are very sociable. Outside of Thailand, however, they are hard to find. Like most rare cat breeds, you’ll have to find a breeder to get one. A Khao Manee will typically cost around $7,000 to $11,000.

Kurilian Bobtail

Kurilian Bobtail
Image from Adobe Stock

The Kurilian Bobtail is from the Kuril archipelago and the Russian island of Sakhalin. While they are popular in Russia and parts of Europe, Kurilian Bobtails are still one of the rare cat breeds in the US.

The average height of Kurilian Bobtail is 10 to 14 in., and they weigh around 8 to 12 lbs. The most distinct feature of this breed is its tail. As its name suggests, its tail resembles a bob or whisk.

With long hind legs, Kurilian Bobtails are excellent jumpers. They are also skilled hunters, even in water. If you have pet fish in your house, you will definitely have to keep them away from your Kurilian Bobtail.


Korat cat
Image from Adobe Stock

Like the Khao Manee, the Korat cat also originated in Thailand. The Korat cat is prized for its beautiful blue-gray fur and striking green eyes. Another distinct feature is its heart-shaped head and nose.

Korat cats are among the rare cat breeds in the world, even in their own country. Thailand natives consider them as “good luck cats” and will give them to brides as wedding gifts.

As domestic pets, Korat cats need a lot of attention. They can get sulky if you ignore them for too long. These alert cats constantly need stimulation, so they need owners who have time for them.


LaPerm cat
Image from Adobe Stock

Compared to other rare cat breeds, the LaPerm is relatively young. The first record of a LaPerm cat was in Oregon in 1982. It also wasn’t until the 2000s that organizations recognized the LaPerm as an official breed.

The LaPerm is a medium-sized cat with a height that can range from 6 to 10 in. It also weighs around 8 to 10 lbs. The LaPerm’s distinct feature is its curly fur. While it has hair that looks like it went through a perm, it is actually quite low-maintenance. LaPerm cats are popular with first-time cat owners because of this.

These cats don’t shed a lot, and they are easy to groom. Furthermore, they are adaptable, friendly, and gentle.


Lykoi cat
Image from Adobe Stock

In Greek, the word “lykoi” means “wolf”. It is a name befitting the wild appearance of the Lykoi cat. Most Lykoi cats have short, black fur, but some are hairless. Their fur makes them look coarse and mangy like wolves. Because of this, some also call this breed the “wolfcat”.

Despite its Greek name, the Lykoi cat originated in Tennessee. Like most rare cat breeds, this cat is a natural mutation of domestic shorthaired cats. It only entered official registries in the late 2000s.

Some might mistake the Lykoi cat to be scary like wolves. However, this breed is playful and easygoing. They also get along well with other cats and even dogs. You should know, however, that with thin fur, they have little protection from the sun or cold.


Minskin cat
Image from Cat Vills

While several rare cat breeds resulted from a natural mutation, the Minskin did not. In the late 1990s, cat fancier Paul McSorley wanted a cat that combined the qualities of a Siamese, Sphynx, and Munchkin cat. Several attempts later led to the Minskin cat.

Minskin cats are small, only growing up to 7 to 8 in. tall. And to make them even shorter, they have shorter bodies with tiny legs. They appear hairless, but they have tufts of hair on some areas like the tail, legs, and nose.

This cat breed is still young. Most organizations don’t recognize it as a breed of its own yet. However, its growing popularity makes it likely to appear on official lists soon. Minskin cats make great domestic pets. They are playful, yet they also like to enjoy some quiet time cuddling.


Munchkin Cat
Image from Petfinder

Among rare cat breeds, the Munchkin cat is quite controversial. In 1997, The International Cat Association recognized the Munchkin cat as an official breed. However, most organizations, to this day, do not support this and their breeding. One prime reason is how their short-legged genes often cause health problems.

Despite controversies surrounding it, you can’t deny that the Munchkin cat is charming. As its name suggests, the Munchkin cat is a small cat with very short legs. Their legs are three inches shorter than most cats. Because of this, Munchkin cats only grow around 5 to 7 in. tall and weigh 6 to 9 lbs.

Their appearance also matches their personality. Munchkin cats are very sprightly and active. They like to play with toys and spend time with humans. Like crows, Munchkins are hoarders. They hoard all sorts of objects, from toys to jewelry.

Norwegian Forest Cat

Norwegian Forest Cat
Image from Adobe Stock

Next on this list of rare cat breeds is the Norwegian Forest Cat. This cat breed originated in Norway, where natives call it “skogkatt” or “forest cat”. In the US, people call it “Wegie”.

The Norwegian Forest Cat is a big cat that reaches 12 to 18 in. tall. They can weigh anywhere from 13 to 22 lbs. Their impressive size matches their broad chest and dense coat. They have long and glossy fur.

As pets, they can be high-maintenance. They shed moderately, meaning they need a lot of grooming. If you’re planning to own one, you need to brush their coat every week to avoid fur-tangling.


Peterbald cat
Image from Adobe Stock

Another rare cat breed from Russia is the Peterbald cat. The Peterbald cat emerged in 1994 after a breeder crossed an Oriental Shorthair with a Don Sphynx cat.

The Peterbald has the wrinkly skin of the Don Sphynx and the body of the Oriental Shorthair. What is unique to the Peterbald is its long, webbed front toes. This feature helps them hold objects well.

While most people think Peterbald cats are hairless, this isn’t entirely true. There are hairless Peterbald cats, but there are other variations too. Some Peterbald cats have short coats with fur ranging from 1 to 5 mm long.

Scottish Fold Cat

Scottish Fold Cat
Image from Adobe Stock

The first record of the Scottish Fold Cat was in 1961 in Scotland. A white barn cat with folded ears gave birth to similar kittens. This resulted from a natural gene mutation that causes the cartilage in the ear to bend forward.

Among the rare cat breeds, the Scottish Fold cat is popular for its cute looks. Its round face and round eyes make it look like an owl, while its folded ears are akin to a lop rabbit. It also has dense fur, making it look cuddly.

Owners have to pay attention to their Scottish Fold’s tail. Over time, some develop stiffness, which can lead to pain. Be sure to handle your Scottish Fold cat’s tail gently.


Serengeti cat
Image from Adobe Stock

The Serengeti is a hybrid of the Bengal cat and the Oriental Shorthair. The goal behind breeding these two cats was to create a domestic version of the Serval wild cat from Africa. In many ways, this cat breed met this goal.

Most Serengeti cats have gray or gold fur with leopard spots. Their sizes mostly vary, but most weigh around 8 to 15 lbs.

Serengeti cats are also energetic and agile creatures. Given their high energy levels, they constantly need to play and run around. If you plan on owning a Serengeti cat, you’ll need to provide them with a large space or a cat tree.


Siberian cat
Image from Adobe stock

Another breed from Russia is the Siberian cat. Siberian cats have thick fur coats that can withstand Siberia’s harsh winter. In fact, they have three types of fur to protect them. These are the guard hair, awn hair, and down hair.

Like most rare cat breeds, Siberian cats are pricey. They can cost anywhere between $1,200 to $4,000. Purebred Siberian cats are rare, especially outside of Russia. Despite this price range, Siberian cats are still in-demand pets.

They are friendly to both strangers and other pets. They are also easy to train, but they need a lot of grooming.


Singapura cat
Image from Adobe Stock

As its name suggests, the Singapura is a breed native to Singapore. It reached the US in the 1970s. Shortly after, organizations registered it as an official breed and allowed it in competitions. Among rare cat breeds, the Singapura is the smallest cat. Most Singapura cats only reach 6 to 8 in. tall and weigh around 4 to 8 lbs. They have short fur which can vary in colors of tan or cream.

Singapura cats are curious and active. They like to climb to high places and perch there for a better view of their surroundings. For interested cat owners, consider investing in a cat tree to keep these little cats off your shelves.


Sokoke cat
Image from Cat World

The Sokoke cat is the rarest cat breed in the world. This cat breed is native to Kenya, and its other names include “Sokoke Forest Cat” and “African Shorthair”.

Most Sokoke cats have a height of 7 to 8 inches and a weight of 5 to 10 lbs. They have short, brown fur with tabby markings.

While other rare cat breeds will tolerate you picking them up, the Sokoke cat will not. They dislike snuggling and other touchy affection. Instead, Sokoke cats prefer to rest beside their owners.

Despite their dislike for touch, Sokoke cats are still friendly. They enjoy companionship and like to play with kids and other cats.


Sphynx cat
Image from Adobe Stock

Originally from Canada, the Sphynx cat is also called the Canadian Sphynx. This cat stands out from other rare cat breeds because of its lack of hair. Sphynx cats don’t have hair because of a natural genetic mutation.

Some Sphynx cats have fine almost invisible hairs, but most are hairless. They can have whiskers, but this feature is absent in most Sphynx cats. Aside from their lack of hair, Sphynx cats have other distinct features. They have prominent cheekbones and large, lemon-shaped eyes. Their ears are also large and pointed.

Some might think the Sphynx cat doesn’t need grooming. However, Sphynx cats can be high maintenance. Without fur to soak up the oil, their skin can get oily fast. You’ll need to bathe them every week.


Image from Wikimedia Commons

The Tonkinese cat is a hybrid of the Siamese and Burmese cats. Like its parents, this cat breed is lively and playful. It also has the same pointed pattern on its fur. This medium-sized cat grows up to 12 to 15 in. tall and weighs from 6 to 12 lbs.

Tonkinese cats need lots of attention. They dislike being alone, so they need owners who are often at home. However, having another cat or dog can help ease this dilemma.

This cat is among the rare cat breeds that like to talk. If you want a furry companion to fill the noise, then this cat breed is for you. Tonkinese cats love to meow about anything.

Turkish Angora

Turkish Angora cat
Image from Adobe Stock

The Turkish Angora, or the “Ankara cat”, is an ancient breed from Turkey. Records of this breed date back to the 17th century.

Turkish Angoras are medium-sized cats. They grow around 9 to 14 in. and weigh 5 to 15 lbs. Their fur is long and mostly white, but some also come in black, brown, or tabby colors. Most Turkish Angoras have blue, green, or yellow eyes. Some also have different colored eyes.

These cats are playful and social. However, they often have favorites, and they’ll seek their attention more than others. They like to be helpful and show off their intelligence.

Turkish Van

Turkish Van cat
Image from Adobe Stock

Another rare cat breed from Turkey is the Turkish Van. The Turkish Van, pronounced “Von”, has a distinct pattern on its fur. The cat’s fur is mostly white except for its head and tail. First observed on the Turkish Van, this pattern is called the “Van pattern”.

Turkish Van is a large cat breed. Most are around 10 to 14 in. tall and weigh between 10 to 20 lbs. All Turkish Vans are white, but their colored spots can vary. Some have red, brown, or black spots.

If you enjoy swimming, then the Turkish Van might be for you. Unlike most cats, this cat breed loves water. Turkish Vans like to swim and soak in water. They are also skilled climbers and hunters.

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