Rare Cat Breeds Most Pet Owners Don’t Even Realize Exist

While The International Progressive Cat Breeders Alliance recognizes 73 breeds, the Cat Fanciers’ Association recognizes 44. We’re sure there are many more than that.

Below are 13 of the rarest cat breeds ever recorded:

1. Sphynx
rare cat breeds

Sphynx cats were selectively bread in the 1960s. Although it looks like they don’t have fur, they are actually covered with very fine fur called chamois.

Breeders consider them to be among the most “dog-like” of the domestic cat breeds because they are curious, sociable, high energy and affectionate with their owners.

2. The Serengeti
rare cat breeds

The Serengeti is a cross between the Bengal and an Oriental Shorthair. Although this breed was established in 1994.  They were bred to have a cat that looks like a wild serval cat without using any wild cat blood.

3. The Burmilla
rare cat breeds

This champion breed is a cross between the Chinchilla Persian and the Burmese cat. They were first created in 1981 by accident. A Chinchilla Persian named Sanquist and a Brown Tortie Burmese were waiting for a partner of their own breed in different rooms when the night cleaner left the door open. Months later, four adorable kittens were born!

4. The Minskin
rare cat breeds

This little cutie is referred to as the ‘corgis of the cat world.’ In 2000, the first Minskin was born in Boston, Massachusetts when Paul McSorley bred his Munchkin cats with the Sphynx. These stubby-legged kitties have healthier immune systems and weigh as little as 4 pounds.

5. The Norwegian Forest Cat
rare cat breeds

These majestic cats are a natural breed that have adapted to the cold winter weather. During World War II, they almost became extinct, but thanks to breeding programs, has been restored. This is a big, strong cat that can live up to 16 years and weighs up to 16 pounds!

6. Devon Rex
rare cat breeds

The Devon Rex is one of the most intelligent domestic cats. They’re capable of learning difficult tricks and can recognize their owner’s name as well as their own.

They love people and are so playful and mischievous that their owners often describe them as a “monkey in a cat suit!”

7. Chartreux
rare cat breeds

“Bonjour! I’m a Chartreux!” This breed of beauties was first mentioned in a French poem in 1558. It is believed that they are descended from the cats of Syria who were brought back to France during the Crusades of the 13th century.

They have shorty, water-resistant nappy fur. They are observant, intelligent and affectionate.  They usually bond with one person for life.

8. Tonkinese Cat
rare cat breeds

The Tonkinese is a beautiful cross between a Siamese and a Burmese. Just like their parents, they are lively, playful and vocal cats. Experts believe that the a Tonkinese-like cat breed has existed in the West since the early 19th century.

9. The Abyssinian
rare cat breeds

These beautiful cats are one of the most popular breeds of short-haired cat in the United States. They are thought to have originated somewhere near Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) and were named for the region.

Their distinctive coat is made up of individual hairs that are banded with different colors. As they mature, their coat lightens. They are known as the “clowns of the cat kingdom,” since they can be goofy, playful and curious.

10. Egyptian Mau
rare cat breeds

These are the fastest of the domesticats and can run up to 30 mph. Their eyes can change from green to turquoise according to their mood and they are more sensitive to temperature than most breeds. There are only about 6,700 Maus registered with the Cat Fanciers’ Association.

11. Kurilian Bobtail
rare cat breeds

It may not look like this cat can swim, but they can! The Kurilian loves to play in the water, they are excellent fishers and hunters. Although they’ve got great hunting instincts, they are clever and gentle by nature.

Their adorable little pom-pom kinked short tail has between 2 and 10 vertebrae. These stocky cats can live from 14 to 20 years.

12. Turkish Angora
rare cat breeds

The Angora is one of the most ancient, natural breeds of domestic cat. It has been documented as early as the 17th century. It looks like the Persian cat, but the Angora has a much narrower face and nose.

They like to be helpful, excel at basic problem solving skills and love to play. Like the Chartreux, these cats pick their person and the bond is for life. They are often quite protective of their human.

13. British Shorthair
rare cat breeds

The British Shorthair is one of the most ancient cat breeds we know of. It was likely imported to Britain by the invading Romans in the first century AD.

These old boys (and girls) are easygoing, dignified and sweet-natured. You may recognize them as the inspiration for the Alice In Wonderland’s Cheshire Cat. Current cat enthusiasts will recognize them as the Cheezburger cat:

rare cat breeds

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