14 Rare Cat Breeds You’ve Probably Never Heard Of


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Most of us can easily identify a Siamese or Persian out of a lineup of cats. But how about a Peterbald? Or a Sokoke? Not ringing any bells?

While everyone thinks their own beloved feline is one in a million, owners of pedigreed cats can take that description literally.

The Cat Fanciers’ Association points out that with only two to four percent of owned cats making the pedigreed cut, all purebred felines can be considered rare.

And like any rare marvel, these breeds are definitely something to treasure. Here are 14 of the rarest cat breeds in the world.

1. Devon Rex

This impish cat breed earned its name from its place of origin: Devonshire, England. With its large ears and playful mug, it’s no wonder the Devon Rex earned the monikers “Pixie Cat” and “Alien Cat.”

This is a cat known for its silliness. The delightful Devon Rex loves to play and interact with its owners.

2. Kurilian Bobtail

While popular in its birthplace, Russia, the Kurilian Bobtail is rarely spotted in North America. In fact, according to The International Cat Association, there are less than 100 Kurilian Bobtails in the United States.

Interested parties, be forewarned: these cats are notorious shedders. Whether their coat is long or short, it’s going to require more maintenance than the average house cat. Truthfully, we think these stub-tailed beauties are well worth the effort.

3. Norwegian Forest Cat

Nearly declared extinct during WWII, the Norwegian Forest Cat sports a thick, waterproof coat that protects it against the freezing winters of Scandinavia. Their large, hardy stature may look imposing, but they’re a social and people-oriented breed.

The Norwegian Forest cat has a loyal fanbase in Europe, but they’re rarely found in the United States.

4. Minskin

Here’s a rare cat breed with an appearance that’s about as unique as it gets. The Minskin combines the traits of its ancestor breeds, the hairless Sphynx and the diminutive Munchkin cat.

The adorable Minskin is a newer cat breed that was recognized by the International Cat Association as an official breed in 2008.

5. Egyptian Mau

With only 6,700 registered with the Cat Fanciers’ Association, the Egyptian Mau definitely makes the list of rare cat breeds. It’s also one of the few domestic cat breeds with naturally occurring spots on its coat.

Fun Fact: this rare cat breed is a speed demon, with speeds recorded up to 30 miles per hour!

6. Tonkinese

Hailing from Canada, the lovely and uncommon Tonkinese cat is a cross between the Burmese and the Siamese. Blending these two breeds created a line of cats who are intelligent, engaging, and vocal. It’s hard not to be won over by their signature aquamarine-colored eyes.

7. Serengeti

With the intention of creating a domestic cat with an exotic, wild appearance, the Serengeti was developed by crossing a Bengal with an Oriental Shorthair. They’re a relatively newer breed, with a handful of breeders in the United States, Europe, Australia, and Russia.

Aside from their regal looks, the Serengeti is an active feline who requires a lot of attention from its owners.

8. Chartreux

Affectionately referred to as “the smiling blue cat of France,”  this rare breed has a history steeped in legend. It’s been said that the Chartreux enjoyed a quiet, monastic life when they were brought to the Carthusian monasteries of France by Crusaders.

Although the Chartreux is considered the National Cat of France, they’ve only recently appeared Stateside. It can be challenging to find breeders in America, making the Chartreux a beloved rarity.

9. Peterbald

The small number of Peterbald breeders makes this cat one of the rarest in the world. Originating in Russia, the Peterbald can be either completely hairless or have short hairs resembling “peach fuzz.”

Their charming personalities and remarkable athletic feats make us wish there were more of these beautiful cats in the world!

10. Korat

The silvery-blue Korat is one cat you’re unlikely to see in the United States. Limits on the cat’s breeding have been placed by its homeland, Thailand, making it a rarity outside the country.

According to PetMD, “Perhaps, as tradition would dictate, limits on breeding and population are quietly imposed. This could be so that only the upper hierarchy, or those fortunate enough to have been gifted a Korat, are able to receive the cat.”

While finding a Korat breeder might be tricky, this rare cat can be occasionally found at rescue shelters.

11. LaPerm

This rare breed’s kinky curls are reminiscent of the popular 80’s hairstyle, the perm. In 1982, Linda Koehl was surprised when a curly-haired kitten was born to her brown tabby cat. Appropriately dubbed “Curly,” this unique cat inspired Koehl to begin a breeding program.

The friendly LaPerm has a clown-like personality and a habit of getting into mischief.

12. Burmilla

The Burmilla cat’s origins were set in motion entirely by chance. After completing his duties, a housecleaner accidentally left a door open, giving a female Lilac Burmese the opportunity to escape. She encountered a beguiling Persian male, and the two produced the first litter of Burmillas.

The Cat Fanciers’ Association instructs those interested in bringing home a Burmilla to look for reputable breeders and to keep this “rare treasure” indoors.

13. Sokoke

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😾¡Bienvenidos al #martesdecatdrama de mi amiga @alma_miau 💜 Os dejo unos minutos para que os vayais a preparar unas palomitas y os pongais bien cómodos. Tengo muchos dramas que contaros. • 😹¿Estáis preparados?😹 • 👉Mi humana está rematadamente loca. No me deja vivir tranquila. Está obsesionada con mi hidratación. Antes de llegar Haru, bebia muchísimo, a todas horas. Desde que el llegó no bebo nada de agua, al principio el me molestaba y dejaba de beber. La humana al ver esto empezó a darme más latita añadiendo agua extra para que así bebiera. ¿Resultado? Estoy muy hidratada bebiendo agua con sabor a comidita y así si que paso de beber agua insipida. ¿Problema? Que la comida esta aguada (obviamente) y no sabe a nada. Así que la estoy haciendo que me compre todas las marcas de latita para ver si encuentro una comida que aguada, siga sabiendo rica. Creo que está cada día más loca por este tema, no sabe si acabar con mi tonteria y dejar de darme latita para que así (espera) empiece a beber agua, o seguir así. ¿Y por que es mi catdrama? Bueno, sobre todo es suyo, pero a mi me tiene harta, me persigue con el plato lleno de comida y agua. ¡Qué no lo quiero! ¡Quiero volverte loca y que te vayas a un manicomio! ¡Loca! 👉 No deja que chupe el culete a Haru, dice que es asqueroso, y que luego la doy besitos en la boca y… ¡puag! (Es una pija) 👉 El sol cada vez está más ladeado, y apenas entra en mi salón. Y yo necesito sol. 👉No me dejan comerme las flores de la orquídea. Dicen que soy una destroza. • El próximo martes os cuento más dramas…Que si no hoy os aburro. • 😻¡Mordibesos!😻 • #catfabulosos #pandillagatuna #nocompresADOPTA #cat #pandillacatfabulosa #gatosdeinstagram #catslife #kitten #gatofeliz #catsofinstagram #happykitten #gatos #lovelycats #dosmejorqueuno #felinosespaña #topcatphoto  #quieroserembajadortrixie #instacats #catkitten #lovecats #clubdeembajadorestrixie #gatosdelmundo #adopta #sokoke #clanpatitas #meow #catinfluencer #gatosfofos

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The UK’s Governing Council of the Cat Fancy considers the Sokoke to be the rarest domestic cat breed in the world. This feline originated in the forested Sokoke area of eastern Kenya.

Although previously thought to be a hybrid breed crossed with wild cats, DNA tests have proved otherwise. This friendly and energetic breed can actually trace its ancestry to Asian cats who were descendants from the wild cats of Arabia.

14. Turkish Van

The Turkish Van didn’t arrive in the United States until 1982. According to the Cat Fanciers’ Association, this breed is regarded as a “regional treasure” in their Turkish homeland, prompting the government to limit exports of this cat to other countries.

The CFA observes that “even in areas where the breed has been known for centuries, they are still relatively rare.”

If you are lucky enough to meet a Turkish Van, you’ll find that they’re an affectionate, intelligent, and energetic breed.

There’s something about these rare cats that makes pet owners fall head over heels. We have to admit, it’s hard to ignore these unique creatures. After all, it’s not every day you run into a hairless feline or a cat sporting a perm. Which, truthfully, makes them all the more special.

Featured Image Via Flickr/Eva101

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