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12 Asian Cat Breeds

Lindsey Lawson

By Lindsey Lawson

Korat laying on sofa

Some of the most incredible and unique cat breeds in the world come from Asia. It is believed that domesticated cats have been part of Asia’s history since before 3000 B.C. Here’s a list of a dozen of the most beloved breeds from the impressive Asian continent.

Top 12 Asian Cat Breeds:

1. Siamese

siamese cat sitting on the floor
Image Credit: BearFotos, Shutterstock
Weight: 6–12 pounds
Height: 8–12 inches
Traits: Affectionate, friendly, outgoing, playful
Average Lifespan: 12–17 years

Siamese may very well be one of the most recognizable cat breeds in history and are one of the oldest breeds to come from Asia. The Siamese breed originated in Thailand, which was known as Siam when the breed was first produced. They have distinct, tri-color coats that come in a variety of colors and brilliant blue eyes.

In their early days, Siamese cats were only owned by kings and members of royal families. In fact, they had even been considered royalty themselves. They gained popularity when the King of Siam gifted two Siamese cats to a high–ranking Englishman in 1880 who then returned to England where they were eventually displayed in the Crystal Palace.

The Siamese were introduced to North America near the turn of the 20th century, the breed started to become very popular in America after World War II. These cats are known for being very friendly, social, and affectionate.


2. Persian

orange long haired doll face traditional persian cat
Image Credit: Light Hound Pictures, Shutterstock
Weight: 7–12 pounds
Height: 10–15 inches
Traits: Gentle, docile, sweet, quiet
Average Lifespan: 12–17 years

The Persian is another one of the oldest cat breeds to come from Asia. It is believed they originated in Persia, which is now Iran. Their history has been traced back to the 1600s when they were imported into Italy from Persia. Throughout their history, Persians were highly regarded among royals. Even Queen Victoria famously owned Persian cats.

Persians are known for their round, flat faces, chubby cheek, big eyes, and long, silky fur. They are relatively quiet cats that do love to be showered in love and attention from their beloved owners. Persians are known for their love of lounging and are only meant as indoor cats. They are heavy shedders that do have some more high–maintenance grooming requirements.


3. Turkish Angora

white Turkish angora
Image Credit: TheCats, Shutterstock
Weight: 8–15 pounds
Height: 9–14 inches
Traits: Intelligent, social, playful
Average Lifespan: 9–14 years

The Turkish Angora is a naturally occurring breed that was first noted in the 15th century and is believed to have originated in Turkey, hence the name. The breed made its way to Europe and began appearing in French literature during the 16th century. By the 1700s, Turkish Angoras were imported into North and South America.

The Turkish Angora has a long, very soft coat that comes in a variety of colors and variations. They are an intelligent breed that is known for their playfulness and social nature. They do bond closely with their families but have been known to form a very tight bond with one person in particular.

Deafness has been a concern within the breed for quite some time, but thanks to proper breeding practices among reputable breeders, many Turkish Angoras do exhibit deafness. Those that do are typically pure white in color and tend to live healthy, normal lives.


4. Oriental Shorthair

Oriental shorthair havana on red background
Image Credit: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH, Shutterstock
Weight: 8–12 pounds
Height: 9–11 inches
Traits: Active, playful, intelligent, affectionate
Average Lifespan: 12 –15 years

The Oriental Shorthair is a close relative of the Siamese, but with some distinct visual differences. Orientals still hold Asian origins thanks to their Siamese ancestors but are a recent, man-made breed that was developed in England in the 1950s. After World War II there was a significant decrease in cat breeders and available cats to breed, thus more breeds were created through crossbreeding practices.

Oriental Shorthairs are slender with a very narrow frame and a short coat. They have prominent cheekbones with almond shaped eyes and very large ears. Their colors and patterns differ greatly from that of the Siamese.

This breed is very high-energy, intelligent, and a bit more vocal than your average cat. Oriental Shorthairs are known for being very friendly with just about everyone and tend to show lots of affection toward their owners.


5. Bengal

bengal cat walking on plank outdoor
Image Credit: Seregraff, Shutterstock
Weight: 8–15 pounds
Height: 13–16 inches
Traits: Bold, social, intelligent, playful
Average Lifespan: 9–15 years

Bengals are a modern breed that is a direct result of breeding an Asian leopard cat with domestic cats. The most common purebred pairings for the creation of Bengal cats were Abyssinians, Egyptian Maus, and American shorthairs. Because of their wild heritage, owners do have to check with their local ordinances to ensure they are not banned or require permits to keep.

Bengal cats have that wild look with a coat pattern very closely resembling that of the Asian Leopard but can be spotted or marbled. They are surprisingly agile and move about with grace. These cats are very intelligent and like to keep busy. The more stimulation the better with Bengals. It is highly recommended that owners socialize them early with other household members and pets.


6. Burmese

Brown Burmese cat in the garden
Image Credit: jojosmb, Shutterstock
Weight: 8–12 pounds
Height: 9–13 inches
Traits: Sociable, affectionate, loyal
Average Lifespan: 12–17 years

The Burmese cat originated in Burma, which is modern-day Myanmar. Burmese cats were held in high regard and considered sacred in their homeland of Burma. A female cat named Wong Mau was imported into the United States in 1930, thus beginning the popularity of the breed here in the states.

Burmese cats are known for being more dog-like in personality and overall loyalty. They are very friendly and social cats that love to be with their owners. They have been broken up into European Burmese and American Burmese but all of them have short, manageable coats that come in a beautiful variety of colors.

Burmese cats do best in homes where their people don’t spend a lot of time away. Because of how social they are, they do great with everyone in the family and even other pets.


7. Birman

Birman cat on the floor
Image Credit: Daydream Photographie, Shutterstock
Weight: 10–12 pounds
Height: 8–10 inches
Traits: Social, affectionate, docile
Average Lifespan: 13–15 years

The gorgeous long-haired, color-pointed Birman cat was once referred to as the Sacred Cat of Burma. Their origins are said to have begun in Burma, now Myanmar where they were believed to have been the beloved companion of Kittah priests. The Birman cat made its way into France around the early 1900s where its history became more well-documented.

All Birman kittens are born pure white, but their color points begin to develop as they age. They always sport four distinct white socks. These cats have a calm demeanor and make great indoor family pets, as they are very social and affectionate toward their people. In fact, they actually prefer not to be left alone.

The coat of the Birman is much more manageable than most long-haired breeds because they lack a dense undercoat. This breed does once in a variety of different color points.


8. Tonkinese

Tonkinese cat
Image Credit: dezy, Shutterstock
Weight: 6–12 pounds
Height: 7–10 inches
Traits: Bold, social, affectionate, active
Average Lifespan: 15–20 years

The Tonkinese is a result of the crossbreeding between the Burmese and Siamese cat breeds. It is believed that the Tonkinese breed first arrived in the United States in the 1930s. They are a rarer find than the Siamese and Burmese but are a great mix between the two.

Tonkinese are very social and outgoing, they are even a bit bold. They are very affectionate toward their owners and love to spend time cuddling. They are an active and playful breed that will definitely enjoy a variety of toys and stimulating activities.

The Tonkinese is color-pointed and comes in a variety of patterns. Their eye color is directly related to coat color, but they will have either green or blue eyes. They have sturdy, muscular bodies and shorter coats.


9. Japanese Bobtail

a japanese bobtail cat in orange background
Image Credit: dien, Shutterstock
Weight: 6–10 pounds
Height: 8–9 inches
Traits: Devoted, affectionate, intelligent, confident
Average Lifespan: 9–15 years

The Japanese Bobtail is believed to have originated in China around 1,000 years ago. The reason for their Japanese namesake is that the Emperor of China gifted the Emperor of Japan with these cats during the 7th century. They have since been revered as symbols of good luck in Japan. They are also referred to as the maneki-neko or “beckoning cat” and are found on statues throughout the country.

In 1968 the first Japanese Bobtails were brought to the United States. To this day, they remain a rarer breed outside of Japan that requires research to find. They are healthy cats that are most noted for their bobtails, which are the result of a genetic mutation.

These cats are very intelligent, social, and affectionate. They do best in homes where their people are home often, as they do not prefer to be left alone. They also get along well with other animals. Japanese Bobtails are noted for their preference for riding on shoulders and carrying objects around in their mouths.


10. Dragon Li

dragon li outdoor
Image Credit: Zahaoha, Pxhere
Weight: 10–14 pounds
Height: 9–12 inches
Traits: Intelligent, loyal, playful, friendly
Average Lifespan: 12–15 years

The Chinese Li Hua, also referred to as the Dragon Li, has a controversial history in China. It is believed this breed was self-domesticated via the Chinese Mountain Cat and has existed in China for centuries. It is unofficially considered the national cat of China.

The Dragon Li is a very rare breed that is hardly seen outside of China. They are small and muscularly built with a distinctive wild appearance. Their coats are short and the brown tabby coloration. In addition to being intelligent, this breed is very friendly, social, and affectionate. They love to be around their owners and make great family pets.


11. Korat

Korat cat resting on furniture
Image Credit: Gino Santa Maria, Shutterstock
Weight: 6–10 pounds
Height: 9–13 inches
Traits: Loving, friendly, intelligent, playful
Average Lifespan: 10–15 years

The Korat may just be one of the rarest cat breeds in the world, but they are strikingly beautiful. The Korat originates from Thailand and has been dated as far back as the 13th century. The Korat was mentioned in literature from 1350 A.D. where they were described as good omens and were even gifted to newlywed brides to bring good luck and prosperity.

It is said they were brought into Europe in the 1800s where they were regarded as blue Siamese. They eventually made their way to the Americas in the late 1950s. These cats bear a striking resemblance to the popular Russian Blue but do have more of a Siamese-like body style.

Korats are rarely found outside Thailand to this day but those that have the pleasure of owning this gorgeous breed rave about how loving and friendly they are. They are also very intelligent and love to play.


12. Singapura

Singapura on grey background
Image Credit: COULANGES, Shutterstock
Weight: 4–8 pounds
Height: 6–8 inches
Traits: Active, assertive, intelligent, playful
Average Lifespan: 9–15 years

At first, the Singapura was believed to have been imported from Singapore in the 1970s, but it was later discovered that these cats were imported to Singapore from the United States before being exported back to the states. With a checkered history, it is believed that this breed is a cross between the Abyssinian and the Burmese.

The Singapura is the smallest domesticated cat breed that has distinct large eyes and ears, a short, ticked coat, and a blunt tail. These tiny cats are high-energy and have a desire to be the center of attention. They are curious, extroverted, and love to play. Singapuras are big personalities in tiny bodies.

Conclusion

While many different cat breeds are of Asian origin, they all come with their own unique look and distinctive traits. Some of these breeds are incredibly popular and the most well-known purebred cats in the world, like the Siamese and Persian, while some are extremely rare except for in their native lands like the Chinese Hi Lua and the Korat.


Featured Image Credit: Gino Santa Maria, Shutterstock

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