32 types of rare cat breeds

Singapura kitten
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While you’ve likely heard of the ragdoll and the Persian, there are many types of rare cat breeds that you may never have come across before — and all of them make wonderful companions. 

Although they’re classed as rare, they still enjoy all the same things that other more common breeds do, including plenty of the best cat food and toys!

There are so many reasons to adopt a cat and while all breeds have their charm, these lesser-known breeds have really stolen our hearts. 

Read on to discover our favorite types of rare breed cats (spoiler alert: we may be the pet experts, but there were a couple on this list even we’d never heard of!)

1. Turkish angora

One of the rarest cat breeds, a Turkish Angora cat scratching on a post indoors

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One of the older rarest cat breeds that dates back to the 16th century, the Turkish angora almost became extinct in the 20th century before caretakers in their home country of Turkey began collecting them for breeding and preservation, initially housing them within a zoo. 

Medium in size with a long and svelte body and a soft and silky coat, these gentle, quiet, and graceful kitties are smart and intelligent, and bond deeply with their humans. While highly sociable, the Turkish angora likes their independence and won’t tolerate being held for more than a few minutes, so they're not the best choice if you’re after a cuddly lap cat. 

2. American bobtail

American bobtail

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The affectionate and friendly American bobtail has a playful personality and a loving heart that makes it a joy to be around. Their rarity means they can cost up to $1,200 from a reputable breeder, but many pet parents feel their sweet natures make the price tag well worth it. Happy to be picked up and friendly to just about everyone, the American bobtail fits easily into any home.

Laidback and docile these kitties aren’t high energy,  but will happily whip around the room after one of the best cat toys a few times a day. This is a feline that loves to be loved and dishes out ample love in return. So fond are they of their families that many can be easily leash-trained and will happily accompany you on a walk around your neighborhood. 

3. Chartreux

One of the rarest cat breeds, the Chartreux sat outside on a wall

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A sturdy little creature, the shorthaired Chartreux hails from France where it was bred as far back as the 1500s for its hunting prowess. It arrived in the United States in the 1970s and while rare, many fall in love with its exotic appearance, calm demeanor, and excellent mousing skills.

Often referred to as the smiling cat, the result of a rounded head that tapers to a narrow muzzle, the chartreux has expressive eyes and will often communicate with their owners through small chirping noises. In fact, this breed is so quiet that legend has it French monks bred them specifically so they could have a cat that wouldn’t interrupt their meditation sessions! 

4. Turkish van

Turkish van

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Rare and beautiful, the Turkish van has been around for centuries and its athletic prowess in the water has earned it the nickname ‘The Swimming Cat’. That’s right, a kitty that loves to swim! While it’s rare to find a feline that loves frolicking in the water, the Turkish van has a water-resistant coat that allows it to emerge almost dry after taking a dip.

Energetic, playful, and fun-loving, the Turkish van requires lots of attention so she’s best suited to homes with pet parents who have lots of time to indulge her. They’re not always an ideal choice for children, as although loving, they like to be held and cuddled on their own terms.

5. American wirehair

One of the rarest cat breeds, close up shot of the American Wirehair indoors

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While once almost completely unheard of, the American wirehair is enjoying a surge in popularity and it’s not hard to see why. Easy going and placid with a loving nature that sees it attach to every family member, this breed makes a wonderful companion.

A robust and powerful cat, the American wirehair loves to play but don’t worry, one of the great things about this breed is that they’re equally happy playing with people as they are playing alone and are more than capable of amusing themselves for long periods of time. 

6. British shorthair

British Shorthair in long grass

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With a name like British shorthair, you’d be forgiven for thinking that these cats originated in, well, Britain! But they actually began their lives in ancient Rome before being introduced to England in the 1870s.

Their round face and dense furry coat often see them affectionately labeled as ‘teddy bears’ and it turns out that it’s a label that’s more than skin deep. Calm, quiet, even-tempered, and undemanding, the British shorthair is an extremely loyal and faithful companion who tends to communicate in squeaks rather than meows.

7. Norwegian forest cat

One of the rarest cat breeds, shot of two Norwegian Forest Cats stood side by side indoors

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With large almond-shaped eyes, muscular bodies, and an equilateral triangle-shaped head, the ruggedly beautiful Norwegian forest cat is a sight to behold. Natural athletes who love perching on top of their cat scratching post or clambering to the top of their cat tree, this ancient breed has a fun-loving spirit and an outgoing and gregarious nature. Bonding equally with everyone in their family, their affectionate and charming nature makes them an excellent addition to the family. Did we mention they are also super intelligent? There are endless reasons to love Norwegian forest cats

8. LaPerm


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Joining the feline ranks by complete accident in 1982, the LaPerm is the result of a spontaneous mutation in a kitten that was born bald on an Oregon farm but who went on to grow soft and curly hair. This kitty named Curly went on to mother many kittens that shared her unusual coat and before long, the LaPerm was officially recognized as a breed in and of itself. And thank goodness because this friendly feline has a wonderful nature that makes them joyous companions.

Inquisitive and determined to always be in on all the action, this curious kitty is fond of riding on shoulders and scaling new heights to survey all the goings-on in their household. This cute ball of curly fluff loves to exercise, so having a few fun games to play with cats up your sleeve can help them burn off their excess energy. 

9. Sphynx

One of the rarest cat breeds, close up of a Sphynx

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Love ‘em or loathe ‘em, the hairless sphynx is definitely not for everyone but this little kitty is keen to spread the message that bald can be beautiful. While they look like they’d have an ancient story to tell, the sphynx is a relatively new breed, the result of a genetic mutation that began in the 1960s.

With the skin texture of a soft peach, the sphynx is lively and sweet-tempered and known to wag its tail while following its owners from room to room. A few things to know you need to know about sphynx cats is that they are mischievous and lovable, they demand the full attention of their humans, and are extremely friendly, outgoing, and intelligent.

10. Minuet


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A hybrid mix of the Persian and munchkin cat breeds, the gentle and sweet-natured minuet also possess a playful and curious streak that makes them wonderful family companions. One of the most affectionate cat breeds, the minuet loves to cuddle and bonds deeply with its humans. Friendly and loving, they get on well with people of all ages and stages and enjoy the company of other pets too. Just be mindful that they have inherited the short legs of the munchkin and because of that they benefit from a pet ramp to help make getting up and down off furniture that much easier.

11. Chausie


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An exotic cat that hails from southeast Asia, the chausie is the result of crossing the Abyssinian with jungle cats which are responsible for this breed's wild looks and weighty 25-pound build. Energetic, intelligent, and family-oriented, these cats require a ton of mental and physical stimulation, so you’ll want to invest in plenty of the best interactive cat toys to keep these active and playful kitties out of mischief. 

12. Ragamuffin


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We’re not sure there’s a cat out there with a name as cute as the ragamuffin and they’re as gorgeous on the inside as they are on the outside. A hearty breed that can live for up to 18 years, the ragamuffin is a gentle giant that’s never happier than when they’re curled up with their favorite human. They adore a good cuddle and are very placid cats, and because they’re so patient and sweet-tempered they’re a wonderful choice for families with children. 

13. Kurilian bobtail

Kurilian bobtail

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It’s believed the kurilian bobtail came into existence more than 200 years ago and their laid-back, go-with-the-flow temperament means they make fantastic companions for people from all walks of life. Trusting and outgoing, they’re very intelligent so the answer to the question ‘Can you train a cat?’ is definitely a big yes when it comes to this breed. While they do have a clownish nature that will keep you laughing and they enjoy playing, on the whole, they’re a very peaceful cat who enjoys curling up on a nice warm lap. 

14. Havana brown

Havana Brown

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With its rich chocolate coat and charming personality, the Havana brown makes an exceptional lifelong friend. They’re very affectionate and people-oriented cats and while their name suggests they originated in Cuba, their breeding line actually began in England. One of the cat breeds most likely to suffer from separation anxiety, the Havana brown thrives on human companionship and is best suited to a home where someone is around for most of the day. 

15. Peterbald


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With its long lean body and distinctive coat, the peterbald is a unique-looking kitty with a friendly and sweet nature. One of the rarest breeds in the world, they are also among the most social and interactive so if you’re looking for one of the best cats for extroverts, the peterbald is well worth considering. Lap cats who become very attached to their humans, this breed is very vocal and playful, and they get on beautifully with children and other pets. 

16. Egyptian mau

Egyptian mau

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An exotic-looking cat with a stunning spotted cat, the medium-sized Egyptian mau forms very tight bonds with their humans and makes for a loyal and devoted family member. They can be aloof with strangers and don’t always warm quickly to other pets, but when it comes to their favorite people, they’re super affectionate. An agile and athletic breed that’s capable of reaching speeds of up to 30 miles per hour, they’re one of the cat breeds that prefer being outdoors, so providing them with a catio, outdoor enclosure or walking them on a leash will all be very much appreciated. 

17. Burmilla


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With an independent spirit, shimmering silver coat, and striking green eyes, the burmilla is the result of an accidental cross between the Burmese and the chinchilla Persian. The result was a cat that’s beautiful in both looks and nature and so an official breeding program was set up. While they may be quiet and gentle, they also love attention and aren’t afraid of letting you know if they feel like you’re not giving them enough of it! Fun-loving, mischievous, and very sweet, they get on well with children and other pets but may take time to warm up to visitors.

18. Korat


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Hailing from Thailand where they are seen as a symbol of good luck, the korat is the only breed of cat considered to have a heart-shaped face. With striking green or amber eyes and a shimmering coat, this kitty is gorgeous to look at but they also have a beautiful nature. 

An expressive and affectionate cat, the korat thrives on companionship and doesn’t like to be left alone. Separation anxiety in cats is a very real issue with this breed, so they’re recommended for homes where there’s always someone around. Fun-loving, cuddly, and energetic, they get on well with children but can be bossy with other pets.

19. Minskin


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A cross between the munchkin and Burmese cat breed with a splash of sphynx and Devon rex, the minskin is one of the newest cat breeds on the block and features short legs and a stocky body. With their round heads, large ears and eyes, and lack of fur, they’re certainly unique looking but they’re also outgoing, affectionate, and adore both adults and children. If you’ve always wanted a dog but don’t have the time to take them out for a daily walk, the minskin is a great choice. Not only are they intelligent and playful, they also love to cuddle and will greet you at the door whenever you come home. 

20. Devon rex

Devon rex

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An outgoing kitty that thrives in a busy family environment, one thing to know about Devon rex cats is that they are never happier than when surrounded by hustle and bustle. Fun-loving cats that get along famously with children, they’re delightfully energetic and playful and are known for their mischievous personalities. 

Because they’re so intelligent, the Devon rex is a joy to train as they love learning new tricks and skills. If you decide to adopt one of these curious little cuties, one of our top tips for training your cat is to focus on one goal at a time. You’ll find they pick things up quickly so it won’t be long before you’re able to move on to the next one! 

21. Scottish fold

Scottish fold

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An iconic cat that’s instantly recognizable thanks to their folded ears, the Scottish fold is a gentle and sweet-natured cat with a calm temperament and an owl-like appearance. They’re wonderfully low-maintenance and undemanding cats and because they’re so flexible and adaptable, they’ll thrive in almost any living situation from busy family homes to quiet, single-person apartments. 

One surprising fact about Scottish fold cats is that, while they enjoy a daily play session with the best-automated cat toys, they’re generally very chilled and quiet kitties who enjoy curling up next to their favorite human. 

22. Savannah

Savannah cat

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If you did a double-take when you saw the Savannah and thought they were a wild cat, you’re partly right! A cross between the African serval and a domestic cat, the Savannah’s breed line was established in 1986. A few reasons to love Savannah cats are their curious, energetic, and affectionate nature. They are always up for anything but they’re not suitable for all homes. 

These cats require a lot of mental and physical stimulation as well as constant companionship so they’re not recommended for humans who spend a lot of time away from home. That being said, if you have plenty of time to spend with them, they’ll delight in learning new tricks, walking on a leash, playing games, and just generally following you around like your second shadow. 

23. Selkirk rex

Selkirk Rex

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A curly-coated cutie with a laid-back and quiet personality, the selkirk rex has a warm and loving nature that makes it a wonderful family companion. Curious, upbeat, and friendly, this breed is a fantastic choice for homes with children and other pets because of their patient and tolerant temperament. 

While they love to play, they’re quite happy to amuse themselves so investing in one of the best cat puzzle feeders and leaving a few other fun toys around will be enough to keep this kitty content. 

24. Bombay


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A glossy black cat with a muscular build, the Bombay is a rare breed that can be difficult to find. However, if you’re lucky enough to welcome one of these cats into your family, you’re in for a real treat. 

Looking like a tiny black panther, the Bombay is a real teddy bear with a fun-loving and mischievous nature. They delight in entertaining their humans and love playing games (they’re masters at fetch), but just bear in mind that they thrive on human companionship, so if you’re after an independent breed who will grant you lots of time alone, you’ll want to steer clear of this little velcro kitty!

25. Lykoi


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With less than 200 lykoi in the world, this is one very rare cat breed indeed! A partially hairless cat with a unique appearance, the lykoi (which roughly translates as ‘wolf cat’ in Greek) is a wild-at-heart cat who’s always on the go. Affectionate and sociable, they enjoy the company of humans and cat-friendly dogs but while they’re very sweet and playful cats, they’re also independent, which means you don’t have to worry about occupying them all the time. While they bond deeply with their favorite people they can be shy and aloof around strangers and prefer to stick to the company of those they know well.  

26. Somali

Somali cat

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The Somali is one of our favorite high energy cat breeds, so if you’re looking for an active kitty that will love spending time playing with you, this stunning feline is well worth considering. Loyal and devoted cats that thrive on attention, the Somali loves everyone — including children, strangers, and other pets. Curious and athletic cats with a love of jumping, don’t be surprised if you find your kitty peering down at you from atop your bookcase or fridge. 

27. Cornish rex

Cornish rex

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An interesting fact about Cornish rex cats is that they are the result of a natural mutation that occurred in the 1950s in Cornwall, England. With bat ears and a wavy coat, these kitties are certainly unique to look at but stare into those big eyes and you’ll soon discover a spirited cat who delights in being involved in every aspect of family life. 

If you’re looking for ways to bond with your cat, the Cornish rex loves to play, jump, and climb, so provide them with plenty of toys and perches and they’ll be one very happy kitty indeed. 

28. Sokoke


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The rarest breed of domestic cat in the world, the sokoke is native to the coastal area of Kenya in Africa. There are currently less than 30 sokoke registered in the world and adopting one will set you back around $2,000. While they do enjoy human companionship, these chatty cats prefer it on their own terms and they have a strong dislike of being picked up or cuddled, preferring to follow their people around the house with all four paws remaining firmly planted on the floor. 

They’re very active felines and while they can get along with children and other pets, they’re less tolerant than other breeds. 

29. Tonkinese 


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Although you may well have heard of the tonkinese, they remain a rare breed — which is a shame as they have the most wonderful temperament. A cross between the Siamese and the Burmese, they’re a very handsome cat to look at and they love to explore. Incredibly people-oriented, they’re friendly, and affectionate and enjoy being carried and cuddled, making them a great choice for families with children. 

30. Serengeti


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If you’re after a Serengeti cat, finding one may well be a challenge as there are very few breeders in the United States. If you do come across one, expect to pay around $2,000 for one of these kitties who’s a cross between the Bengal and the Oriental shorthair. 

An exceptional athlete and incredibly nimble, even a childproof lock on your cupboards may not be enough to thwart this curious and crafty cat. While they do take some time to warm up to strangers and new pets, once they get to know them, they’re chatty, loyal, and very friendly. 

31. Khao manee

Khao manee

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Pronounced kow manee, this white cat with jewel-toned eyes was first introduced into the United States in 1999 and remains relatively rare in the Western world. Intelligent and social, they have a reputation for keeping their humans laughing with their clown-like antics. 

Playful and mischievous, they’re very outgoing and will give every visitor to your home a warm welcome. Looking for ways to be the best cat owner? When it comes to this breed, a mixture of playing with them and leaving your warm lap vacant for a cuddle will both go down a treat. 

32. Singapura


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Hailing from Singapore, the singapura may be small but they have a big personality. Curious and outgoing, they expect to be involved in all family activities and they love to perch atop bookcases and cabinets so they can get a better view of what’s going on around them. 

They’re very gentle cats in that they get on well with absolutely everyone, including other pets, but they’re also real dynamos so expect to be kept busy if you have a singapura in the house!

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.