One key feature that Persians, outdoorsy Maine coons, and rare, unique Scottish folds all have in common is their long, coifed coats that make you want to pet them for days. Longhaired cats are the result of a genetic mutation, and researchers have narrowed down the gene to the fibroblast growth factor 5 or FGF5, for short. That's why it's not unusual to see some kittens from the same litter with short hair and others with long.
Long-haired cats are as healthy as short-haired cats. A dense fur coat is a shared trait among breeds that originated in cold climates. There are no other major characteristic commonalities among long-haired breeds other than hair care and grooming. Long-haired cats may be more likely to get fleas and other bugs, and it's usually because it takes longer for you to notice a flea problem. As self-groomers, cats get hairballs. And, long-haired cats have more hair and are more likely to have hairballs; however, it generally evens out to be about the same as short-haired cats. Cats shouldn't have more than one hairball a week—if that. Some cat owners only report seeing hairballs once or twice a year. If your cat frequently coughs up hairballs, that's a sign to seek vet attention.
Here are 13 of the fluffiest, silkiest, and most coifed long-haired cats out there.
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It's widely believed that Maine coons originated in a climate with harsh winter weather, which would explain their all-natural cold-weather wear. Maine coons have extremely dense, water-resistant hair, giant, tufted paws (which serve as miniature snowshoes to make walking across snowy terrain easier), and massive, bushy tails they can wrap around their bodies for additional warmth.
Weight: 9 to 18 pounds
Length: 36 to 40 inches
Physical Characteristics: Medium-to-large, broad-chested cat with pointed ears and a long, dense coat that's shorter on the shoulders and stomach; coats can come in more than 75 color variations, but their eyes are usually green, gold, or copper
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Balinese cats are known for their striking blue eyes and silky, pointed coats—much like their close relative, the Siamese. The Balinese breed results from the genetic mutation in Siamese that causes cats to develop longer, silky coats. That's good news for cat-loving allergy-sufferers. Although there's no scientific proof, many suggest that the Balinese is a hypoallergenic cat breed because it doesn't have an allergy-causing undercoat.
Weight: 6 to 11 pounds
Length: Typically 18 inches
Physical Characteristics: Slender body with a long tail and pointed ears; coats are long and silky, coming in creamy white with pointed colors around the face, ears, tail, and paws
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Persians are, perhaps, best known for their long, glamorous coats, smushed faces, and vivid eyes. These pretty kitties are loved for more than just their looks. They have charming personalities, too. Born to be cuddlers, Persian cats are very calm, affectionate, and, generally, inactive. Despite their low-maintenance lifestyles, Persians are high-maintenance when it comes to grooming. Their hair can easily become matted and tangled if not brushed daily.
Weight: 7 to 12 pounds
Length: 14 to 18 inches
Physical Characteristics: Sturdy, medium-sized built with a flat face, and round, vivid eyes; long, silky coats that come in solid, bicolor, tabby, calico, and other color variations and patterns
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Also known as a "Wegie," the Norwegian forest cat is a natural breed that can trace its roots back to the Vikings. Like the Maine coon, it's believed that Wegies originated in a cold climate, so they, too, have very dense water-resistant coats. Bathing your Wegie isn't recommended unless their hair is filthy or you must wash it out of medical necessity.
Weight: 13 to 20 pounds
Length: 12 to 18 inches
Physical Characteristics: Large, sturdy cat with very dense hair, large, padded paws, and a long, bushy tail; coats can come in white, black, red, cream, cinnamon, and tabbyContinue to 5 of 13 below.
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If you think Himalayan cats look a little bit like a Persian and a little bit like a Siamese, you're 100 percent correct. Himmies are a hybrid of the two popular breeds. The result is a gorgeous cat with the coat and eye colors of a Siamese and the long, silky hair of a Persian. Himalayans are sweet, playful cats, but don't let their laid-back personalities fool you. Their long coats require daily maintenance to prevent mats and tangles.
Weight: 7 to 12 pounds
Length: About 18 inches
Physical Characteristics: Medium-to-large in size with a wide chest, round abdomen, and muscular build; can often look bigger than they actually are; coats come in cream, grey, blue, and chocolate with pointed markings
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Originating in Turkey sometime during the 15th century, Turkish Angoras were once considered only white cats with blue or green eyes, and, for many years, all long-haired cats were called Angoras. After many years as the top cat when it came to coat colors and length, it's now accepted that Turkish Angoras can come in a variety of coat colors and patterns and other cats can have similar colored eyes and hair color.
Weight: 5 to 9 pounds
Length: 12 to 18 inches
Physical Characteristics: Long, slim, and slender bodied with pointed ears and long, silky hair; Turkish Angora's coat can come in numerous color variations and patterns, including white and lilac, chocolate, calico, tabby, and more
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Although the Birman's coat comes in six colors and two different patterns, they always have white "mittens" on all four paws and blue eyes. The history of the Birman cat is largely unknown, but it's believed they're the result of Burmese cats being transported to France and mixed with Siamese cats.
Weight: 10 to 12 pounds
Length: 15 to 18 inches
Physical Characteristics: Sturdy, medium-to-large cat with long, silky hair and pointed markings; coat can come in seal, blue, chocolate, red, cream, and tortoiseshell, with pointed or lynx patterns
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Perhaps best known for its distinctive permed hair appearance, the LaPerm is a relatively newer breed that originated in 1982. It has long, tightly curled hair around the neck, ears, and tail, and a fluffy, bottle-brush shaped tail. The LaPerm's coifed coats resulted from a genetic mutation that caused cats to develop curly hair. These curly-haired kitties were then propagated by breeders.
Weight: 6 to 12 pounds
Length: 12 to 18 inches
Physical Characteristics: Medium sized with a sturdy build and tightly curled hair around the neck, ears, and tail; it can come in all colors and patterns, but are commonly seen in tortoiseshell, calico, and tabbyContinue to 9 of 13 below.
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The Somali is a long-haired version of the Abyssinian. This breed was most likely developed by breeders introducing long-haired breeds into their programs during World War II. Abyssinian populations dwindled, so introducing long-haired cats may have been their attempt at boosting numbers. Somali cats weren't considered a distinctive breed until the 1960s and 1970s.
Weight: 6 to 10 pounds
Length: 15 to 18 inches
Physical Characteristics: Sturdy, medium-sized cat with pointed ears and a narrow, Persian-like face; can come in a variety of colors and patterns, including brown, red, cinnamon, blue, and grey, among others
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The Scottish fold's most distinctive feature—its folded, flat ears—results from a genetic mutation that has been continuously bred into this breed. The mutation causes flexible cartilage, leading to serious health issues, including arthritis, tail issues, and problems with knees and ankles. It's often recommended that a Scottish fold is bred with a British shorthair to maintain its appearance but strengthen the gene pool.
Weight: 5 to 11 pounds
Length: 10 to 30 inches
Physical Characteristics: Medium-sized cat with a round head, and folded, flat ears; coats can come in many colors and patterns, but commonly calico, tortoiseshell, and tabby
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The ragdoll has a silky single coat of medium-to-long length. It lacks an underlayer of fur similar to Balinese cats. It’s meant to be lower-matting. This breed still requires brushing at least twice a week to avoid matting. Some people with allergies may be less bothered by this breed since this cat doesn't have an undercoat and shed dander. However, most people are allergic to the saliva and skin secretions from cats, and ragdolls produce both.
Weight: 10 to 20 pounds
Length: 17 to 21 inches long
Physical Characteristics: Medium-to-long length coat; many different patterns; blue eye color
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The Siberian cat is a forest cat native to snowy Russia, where it needed its luxurious triple coat to protect it against cold. The triple coat comprises three layers: a shorter, dense undercoat of downy hair, a layer of slightly longer “awn hair” in the middle, and an even longer outer coat layer or guard hairs. The Siberian cat’s coat may come in any color or pattern. In warm weather, the Siberian cat will shed the heavy coat in favor of a shorter, thinner summer coat. In winter, the coat will be at its thickest and longest. Despite its thickness and length, the Siberian cat’s coat tends to resist matting and only requires an occasional brushing.
Weight: 10 to 20 pounds
Length: 17 to 25 inches
Physical Characteristics: Coat varies from coarse to soft; moderately long to longhaired triple coat with a full collar ruff; colors can come in any combination or pattern; all eye colorsContinue to 13 of 13 below.
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The Turkish Van is an all-white cat with colored markings on the face and tail only. This color pattern is so distinctive that it’s often called a “van” pattern when it appears in other cat breeds. The texture of the Turkish Van’s semi-long, soft coat has been likened to cashmere. According to the season, the breed's native environment experiences temperature extremes, and the Turkish Van’s coat changes according to the season. The winter coat is longer and thicker to keep the cat warm in cold weather, with tufts of hair often sprouting between the toes. The Turkish Van’s coat also naturally resists matting.
Weight: 8 to 18 pounds
Length: 14 to 17 inches
Physical Characteristics: Three color varieties: solid and white (red, cream, black and blue), tabby and white (red tabby, cream tabby, brown tabby, and blue tabby), and parti-color and white (tortoiseshell, dilute tortoiseshell, brown patched tabby, blue patched tabby, and any other color and white other than the Himalayan pattern and colors); eye color is amber, blue, or odd-eyed
Breeds to Avoid
All cats have hair. Even the sphynx and other "hairless" breeds like the Peterbald or Donskoy have mini hairs coating the body. But, if you love cats with fluffy or lustrous fur, then some breeds to avoid would be anything with "shorthair" in the name or Siamese cats and Russian blues, to name a few. These cats all have short hair.
In terms of long-haired cat breeds to avoid, Persians and Himalayans are beautiful, gentle, affectionate cats, but their coats are prone to matting if not brushed daily and often get hair coat disorders. Persians are also prone to a slew of health problems, like breathing and eye problems, mainly due to their flattened faces. Scottish folds are also prone to joint issues because of the genetic mutation responsible for their ear folds.
How do you groom a long-haired cat?
Brush your long-haired cat at least a few times a week, to keep shedding and hairballs at bay.
How often should you bathe a long-haired cat?
While a lot of groomers will suggest regular baths for your long-haired cat, many vets do not share this advice. The fact is, most cats loathe getting a bath, and trust us, it's not an easy thing to accomplish especially since cats do an excellent job of bathing themselves. Really, the only time you need to bathe your long-haired cat is if it gets dirty. We wish you good luck and a sense of humor!
How do you trim a long-haired cat?
This is really a question you need to discuss with your veterinarian. Obviously, if your cat has matted hair, those mats need to be removed. Small mats can be removed with nail scissors, although It might be smart to have a groomer do this rather than doing it yourself. Additionally, there are many schools of thought about giving your long-haired cat a summer cut, and your pet's healthcare provider should weigh in on this.