12 Most Popular Cat Breeds for Feline Lovers

Himalayan cat on brown leather couch in living room

The Spruce / Phoebe Cheong

Some of the most popular cats may have grown in popularity due to movies that featured them or positive experiences that have left an impression on cat aficionados. Affection level and playfulness are top qualities that cat owners prefer in a kitty.

A cat is either domestic, purebred, or a hybrid. Domestic cats do not have a pedigree history of their lineage, while purebred cats do. Hybrids are domesticated cats crossbred with wild feline varieties. The main pedigree certifying organization, the United States-based Cat Fanciers' Association, recognizes 44 distinct purebred cat breeds.

These 12 breeds are the most popular cats for cat lovers all over the world.

Tip

Keep your cats indoors; they will have the longest lifespans, living up to 20 years. Outdoor cats rarely make it past 10 years. Outdoors cats are prone to infections from other animals, can get into fights or be attacked by predators, or may get run over by vehicles. Outdoor cats may also maim or kill outdoor birds and other wildlife.

1:34

How 5 Popular Cat Breeds Got Their Names

Breed Characteristics

What makes certain cats so popular are their unique personality traits, stunning physical appearances that make them hard to forget, or their breed's tendency to have longer lifespans.

  • 01 of 12

    Siamese

    siamese cat

    Jovana Rikalo / Stocksy United

    Popular since the 19th century, this cat breed originated in Thailand (formerly known as Siam). The Siamese has been a foundational breed for the Oriental shorthair, sphynx, and Himalayan. Most Siamese cats have distinct markings called "points" that are the areas of coloration on their face, ears, feet, and tail. Two varieties of Siamese cats have an "apple" shaped head and chubbier body and the other features a larger head and slender body. The animated Disney film "Lady and the Tramp" featured Siamese cats singing a song, demonstrating their intelligence and vocal skills. Many Siamese cats that originated from Thailand had a kink in their tail—a trait bred out of most Siamese, but you can still see it in street cats in Thailand.

    Breed Overview

    Height: Up to 14 inches

    Weight: 6 to 14 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short coat in seal, chocolate, blue, and lilac with blue eyes

    Life Expectancy: 8 to 12 years

  • 02 of 12

    Persian

    persian calico cat

    Cara Dolan / Stocksy United

    Also lovingly referred to as one of the "smushed-face" cats, the Iranian cat or Shiraz cat (named for a city in Iran), Persians have beautiful, long fur coats. They can come in almost any color and have a flat face when compared to most other breeds of cats. Persians are featured in many movies, artworks, and commercials and have been one of the most popular breeds of cats for decades. Their coats demand regular grooming, otherwise, matting will result. Like many purebreds, they are prone to a variety of diseases, including renal and cardiac problems.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 14 to 18 inches

    Weight: 7 to 12 pounds

    Coat and Color: Long coat in solid (white, black, cream), tabby, calico, bi-color, silver and gold, shaded, and smoke

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 17 years

  • 03 of 12

    Maine Coon

    Maine coon cat outside

    Jorbasa Fotografie / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

    Known for its large stature and thick fur coat, the Maine coon is a cat that is difficult to ignore. Hailing from the state of Maine and the state’s official cat, the Maine coon is a gentle giant. They are great hunters and were popularized after the CFA recognized them as purebred in the late 1970s. They remain one of the most popular cat breeds. Many Maine coons have polydactylism, or extra toes, which makes their already large feet even larger. This great feature helps for hunting in the snow since large feet act as snowshoes. The classic Maine coon coloration is a brown tabby, but this breed can come in almost any color.

    Breed Overview

    Height: Up to 16 inches

    Weight: 9 to 17 pounds

    Coat and Color: Long, double coat with more than 75 color combinations and green, gold, or copper eyes

    Life Expectancy: 9 to 15 years

  • 04 of 12

    Ragdoll

    Ragdoll cat on a basket

    Peter Munks / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    Ragdoll cats get their name from their docile temperament. They tend to go limp when picked up, much like a rag doll. At one time, people thought they couldn’t feel pain, but that is not true. Ragdolls look a lot like long-haired Siamese cats with pointed color patterns. They also have distinctive blue eyes and dog-like personalities, following their owners around the house.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 11 to 13 inches

    Weight: 10 to 20 pounds

    Coat and Color: Medium-length and silky with many different colors and patterns with blue eyes

    Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12

    Bengal

    Bengal kitten sitting on a bed

    Sean McGrath / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    Bengals are wild-looking cats—literally. Their markings make them look more like they belong in the jungle rather than in your home, but they are domesticated. They are talkative and require a lot of exercise. They come in many colors with patterns like spots and rosettes. Their name comes from the Asian leopard cat’s taxonomic name, Prionailurus bengalensis bengalensis. Bengals were initially bred from domestic cats and a wildcat. They also get their beautiful patterns from this wildcat.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 13 to 16 inches

    Weight: 8 to 15 pounds

    Coat and Color: Shorthaired, spotted, or marbled coat with patterns in black, chocolate, or gray/silver with green or gold eyes

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 16 years

  • 06 of 12

    Abyssinian

    Abyssinian cat on a white blanket

    Josef Timar / Getty Images

    Originally from Ethiopia (previously known as Abyssinia), the Abyssinian cat has a distinctive ruddy agouti coat that gives the Abyssinian its unique banded look. It has tall, pointy ears; a wedge-shaped head; and a slender and muscular body. Personality-wise, Abys are active, curious cats that frequently follow owners around. Their playful, dog-like demeanor endears them to their humans.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 8 to 10 inches

    Weight: 8 to 12 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short-haired red/orange agouti fur coat with bands of light and dark coloring; other colors can include cinnamon, fawn, and blue

    Life Expectancy: 9 to 15 years

  • 07 of 12

    Birman

    Birman cat on hardwood flooring

    Giulia Chironna / Getty Images

    Birmans are another color-pointed cat like the Siamese and ragdoll. They have blue eyes and a medium-long coat but no undercoat, the primary trait that sets them apart from Persians and Himalayans. Birmans were the original stock for breeding ragdolls, so they look very similar, but they have slightly different markings and personalities. They are fun, social cats that love attention—from their chosen person. They are more of a one-person cat than others.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 8 to 10 inches

    Weight: 10 to 12 pounds

    Coat and Color: Long and silky coat in seal, blue, red, chocolate, cream, and tortie colors, including standard or lynx pattern points and deep blue eyes

    Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

  • 08 of 12

    Oriental Shorthair

    Oriental shorthair cat close-up

    TaniaVdB / Pixabay

    At a glance, you may think this slender cat looks like a Siamese, but the Oriental shorthair is a separate breed. Unlike Siamese cats, they usually have green eyes and many color patterns and colors. The Oriental can also have long hair. Oriental shorthair cats are prone to skin cancer and getting cold due to their lack of fur; they are often seen wearing sweaters.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 9 to 11 inches

    Weight: 8 to 10 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short, smooth coat with many color possibilities: solids, shaded, smoke, and tabby with green, blue, gold, and yellow eyes

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 15 years

    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12

    Sphynx

    Sphynx cat on a chair in front of a window

    Wunderfool / Getty Images

    If you are looking for a cat that doesn't shed, then the sphynx is for you. Sphynx cats look unique due to their lack of fur and are very social, active, dog-like felines. They look like they belong in the laps of royalty, but they are playful and goofy and act more like court jesters despite their regal appearance.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 8 to 10 inches

    Weight: 6 to 12 pounds

    Coat and Color: Hairless with white, black, red, chocolate, lavender, tabby, tortoiseshell, calico, pointed, and mink colors

    Life Expectancy: 9 to 15 years

  • 10 of 12

    Devon Rex

    Devon Rex cat outside on a porch

    Andrea Abbott / Getty Images

    Devon rex cats have wavy, soft short hair and slender bodies with enormous ears. The Devon rex is a playful, active cat described as "a monkey in a catsuit." This kitty will steal your heart with its lively, sweet disposition. They are also trainable and adept at learning tricks.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 10 to 12 inches

    Weight: 6 to 9 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short, fine, wavy coat in solid, tabby, and shaded varieties

    Life Expectancy: 9 to 15 years

  • 11 of 12

    Himalayan

    Himalayan cat on white background

    Kryssia Campos / Getty Images

    Like the Persian, the Himalayan cat is considered a sub-breed in some cat associations and a separate breed in others. Himalayans were bred from crossing Persians and Siamese to achieve their color points. They love attention and affection from their owners, have sweet personalities, and are playful.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 10 to 12 inches

    Weight: 7 to 12 pounds

    Coat and Color:  Dense undercoat with a long overcoat that comes in pointed colors and patterns in gray, blue, chocolate, lilac, and cream

    Life Expectancy: Up to 15 years

  • 12 of 12

    American Shorthair

    American shorthair cat on a white background

    Marc Henrie / Getty Images

    An all-American breed, the American shorthair cat is an intelligent shorthair feline that has a round face and short ears. They are often confused with domestic mixed-breed cats but are purebred. Its breed name changed from domestic shorthair cats in 1966 to differentiate them. This medium-sized cat has a gentle nature that makes this breed a great companion for families with children or other pets. The American shorthair is one of the most popular pedigreed cat breeds in North America.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 8 to 10 inches

    Weight: 6 to 15 pounds

    Coat and Color: Shorthaired coat with a wide variety of possibilities, including white, black, cream, blue, brown, chinchilla, tortoiseshell, cameo, and many more

    Life Expectancy: 15 to 20 years

Breeds to Avoid

If you are looking for one of the most popular breeds, you likely want a recognizable cat or a type you can find readily. You want to avoid scarce or rare breeds, like the Scottish fold or the Egyptian mau. These cats are beautiful and make sweet housemates but are tough to find. Other cats you want to avoid are hybrid cats that carry on many wildcat traits, like chausies, toygers, and savannahs. They're often brilliant and athletic with a streak of unpredictability, but they're generally friendly around their human family.

Watch Now: If Your Cat Could Text, They Would Say This