9 Rarest Cat Breeds

A long-haired Norwegian Forest Cat walking in the snow.

Sandra Schmid / Getty Images

Big-time cat lovers know that felines come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. Each individual breed usually has unique characteristics, too, which could make them your perfect pet or cause you to steer clear. Finding the cat that matches your lifestyle and personality can be a difficult task and it may take some searching.

Most cat enthusiasts have been introduced to the typical cat breeds kept as pets in the U.S., so it’s time to shed light on some of the more rare breeds out there. Who knows, maybe one of these unique breeds will turn out to be your perfect match. Or, perhaps, you’d just like to dream of owning one someday.

  • 01 of 09

    Scottish Fold

    A grey Scottish Fold cat on a grey couch looking at the camera with golden eyes.

    muratkoc / Getty Images

    Named after their cute folded ears, Scottish Fold cats have a unique look. The folds are produced by a gene that affects ear cartilage, but because the gene isn’t completely dominant, not all Scottish Folds have folded ears. Either way, these cats are adorable. The original Scottish Fold was a barn cat in Scotland that was bred for its distinct folded ears throughout the United Kingdom in the 1960s. Now, they’re popular pets among celebrities across the globe, including American singer Taylor Swift. 

    Breed Overview

    Height: 8 to 10 inches

    Weight: 6 to 14 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Medium-sized body; small ears that fold forward and downward; medium coat

  • 02 of 09

    Norwegian Forest Cat

    A white cat with long hair and green eyes sitting on a wood dresser and looking at the camera.

    Myeong Jun Baeg / EyeEm / Getty Images

    Looking at the name of this breed, it’s not hard to determine where they hail from. The Norwegian Forest Cat, called the skogkatt in Norway, is a natural European breed that descended from domestic cats first introduced by the Ancient Romans. Norse myths suggest the cats were in Norway for hundreds of years, but the Norwegian Forest Cat didn’t gain popularity in the U.S. until the 1980s. Americans fell in love with the cats for their playful personalities and natural athleticism.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 9 to 12 inches

    Weight: 13 to 20 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Long, double coat in multiple colors; larger size; almond-shaped eyes

  • 03 of 09

    Sphynx

    A hairless Sphynx cat laying on the top of a chair in front of a window.

    By Wunderfool / Getty Images

    The Sphynx breed is easily identified by its distinct physical features—most notably, hairlessness. Sphynx cats don’t have any hair, making them excellent pets for those who suffer from severe allergies. Because they have no hair, these felines are almost always cold, which means they are almost always looking for cuddles. Hairless cats have been recorded throughout history, even in ancient Egypt, and the current American Sphynx breed is descended from cats in Minnesota and Canada who had natural mutations preventing hair growth. While there are some other hairless breeds out there, the Sphynx breed is unique. Exceptionally social cats, Sphynxes absolutely love their owners and can be quite affectionate and playful.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 8 to 10 inches

    Weight: 6 to 12 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Hairless; variable skin color; angular head

  • 04 of 09

    Egyptian Mau

    A spotted Egyptian Mau cat sitting up but looking behind him.

    Thomas Leirikh / Getty Images

    As the only natural domesticated breed of spotted cat, the Egyptian Mau is often sought for its stunning coat. But besides their ravishing good looks, these cats are also known for their quality companionship and hunting prowess. First thought to be pets of the ancient Egyptians thousands of years ago, Egyptian Maus may be one of the oldest domestic cat breeds. Maus were brought into the U.S. in the 1980s where they captured the hearts of cat lovers across the nation.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 8 to 10 inches

    Weight: 7 to 9 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Athletic body; natural spotted coat; medium-sized; rounded head

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Korat

    A calico Korat cat with blue eyes sitting up.

    skaman306 / Getty Images

    Korat cats have only been popular in the U.S. for a few decades, but their history goes back thousands of years. The breed is originally from Thailand where it was first found recorded in ancient artifacts from the 13th century. In the 1800s, they were brought to Europe and became known as “blue siamese” cats because of their solid blue coats, relatively petite bodies, and wide, luminous eyes. Korats appeared in the U.S. in the 1950s and by 1966, The American Cat Fancier’s Association (ACFA) accepted them into championship status.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 10 to 12 inches

    Weight: 6 to 10 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Muscular body; short blue-grey coat; heart-shaped face; luminous green eyes

  • 06 of 09

    British Shorthair

    A gray British Shorthair cat sitting upright on the floor and looking at the camera.

    Kseniya Ovchinnikova / Getty Images

    If you’re looking for a feline companion who acts as goofy and mischievous as the ones you often see in popular internet cat videos, the British Shorthair may not be for you. Their personality is quite the opposite as they are quiet, calm, and generally reserved. British Shorthair cats are native to—you guessed it—Great Britain, though they were thought to have been brought there originally by the Romans when they invaded the country in first century A.D. British Shorthairs are also known as British Blue cats due to their blue-grey coats. They were recognized by the American Cat Association in 1967. It’s a relatively uncommon breed, but they are known to be top-notch companions to those who do own them.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 12 to 14 inches

    Weight: 7 to 17 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Short and dense coat; colors include white, black, red, cream, blue, and more; rounded features

  • 07 of 09

    Peterbald

    peterbald cat

     

    PetrMalyshev / Getty Images

    Peterbald cats don’t have a long history, but it is quite interesting. The unique cat was first reported in the 1980s in a town called Don in Russia where it was called the Don Sphynx due to its hairlessness. The new breed was sent to St. Petersberg, Russia and in 1993, scientists bred a fine oriental shorthair cat with a Don Sphynx and one of their kittens became the foundation of the Peterbald breed. In May of 2008, the ACFA accepted the Peterbald for Championship class competition. Today, the breed is a rare and desired pet in the U.S.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 8 to 10 inches

    Weight: 7 to 14 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Long and slender body; hairless; large, pointed ears; triangle-shaped heads

  • 08 of 09

    Minskin

    A small Minskin cat at a woman's feet underneath a sheer dress.

    Светлана Зайцева / Getty Images

    Cross a Munchkin cat with a Sphynx and you’ve got a Minskin. Minskins get their short, squat bodies from the Munchkin and their extremely sparse coats from the Sphynx—talk about a distinct looking cat! The first official Minskin was bred in Boston, Massachusetts in July of 2000. In five years, about 50 Minskins existed and the breed was registered by The International Cat Association (TICA). The adorable and outgoing breed is currently under a TICA program that monitors the development of new breeds.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 7 to 8 inches

    Weight: 4 to 6 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Small body; short legs; nearly hairless with sparse hair around extremities only; rounded head

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    American Bobtail

    An orange cat with a short, bobbed tail looking above the camera.

    Jane-Khomi / Getty Images

    Despite the American Bobtail cat’s similarities to wild bobcats, these felines are domesticated and make wonderful pets. But the unique breed can be difficult to find. The American Bobtail has been in North America since the 1960s, but they didn’t gain popularity until the 2000s. The original Bobtail was a cat found at a motel in Arizona and experts believe he was abandoned there. The cat was believed to be a cross between a bobcat and a domestic house cat due to his feral appearance and distinct bobtail. This furry friend will surely wow your house guests.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 8 to 10 inches

    Weight: 7 to 16 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Short, bobbed tails; almond-shaped eyes; come in any color or pattern; variable coat length