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10 of the World’s Rarest Cat Breeds (with Pictures)

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By Nicole Cosgrove

bicolor Cornish Rex

If you’re into cats, you can most likely identify a Persian or a Siamese out of a group of felines. But do you know any rare cat breeds? Maybe you were not even aware of the fact that there are several breeds of cats that are considered rare.

We’ve listed 10 rare cat breeds below we think you’d be interested in becoming acquainted with. It should be noted that we do not encourage keeping exotic cats and that the following list is for informative purposes only.

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The 10 Rarest Cat Breeds:

1. Norwegian Forest Cat

shell cameo Norwegian forest cat sitting on grass
Image Credit: Elisa Putti, Shutterstock

As the name suggests, the Norwegian Forest Cat hails from Norway where it’s called the skogkatt which literally means forest cat in Norwegian. This is a natural European cat breed with its roots in ancient Rome where it descended from domesticated cats.

The Norwegian Forest Cat weighs an average of 17 pounds and has a long, multi-colored coat with large almond-shaped eyes. Some people believe this cat lived alongside Vikings but that’s never been proven. However, with this cat’s large size and gruff look, one can imagine it living with those rough and tough seafaring Scandinavians.

2. Cornish Rex

Cornish rex indoor
Image Credit: absolutimages, Shutterstock

This small to medium-sized cat has an extraordinary appearance with its egg-shaped head, big ears, short wavy coat, and curly whiskers. This goofy-looking cat likes nothing more than having fun and frolicking about. It’s an affectionate cat that is always looking for a lap to sit on.

The Cornish Rex is not an ancient breed but rather one that can be traced back to the mid 20th century. The first Cornish Rex kitten was born in Cornwall, England in 1950 and was named Kallibunker.

3. Devon Rex

Devon rex cat in the garden
Image Credit: Veera, Shutterstock

Like the Cornish Rex, the Devon Rex hails from England. This impish cat breed got its name from its place of origin which is Devonshire. Often called the “Alien Cat” the Devon Rex has short hair, large eyes, and big wide ears.  The Devon Rex is an intelligent cat with a slender body and one that loves to clown around.

This cat enjoys cuddling and entertaining its human family with lots of enchanting play. For the entertainment it provides, the Devon Rex expects to be thanked with lots of petting and affection. This is also a chatty cat that often meows at mealtime, when it’s left alone, or when really upset.

4. Munchkin

adorable munchkin cat
Image Credit: MDavidova, Shutterstock

Named after the Munchkin characters in the Wizard of Oz, the Munchkin cat breed has an interesting history. In the early 1980s, a woman in Louisiana found two pregnant short-legged cats hiding under her vehicle. The cats later gave birth to kittens with short legs. It’s believed that all Munchkin cats come from these two stray cats.

With its Dachshund-like silhouette, triangle-shaped ears, and big eyes, it’s no wonder the Munchkin cat has captured the hearts of cat lovers everywhere.

This short and sweet cat may have won the hearts of many, but it also has stirred up a bit of controversy. Some people think the breeding of Munchkins is unethical because it encourages the breeding of cats with physical deformities. For this reason, the only major cat organization to recognize the Munchkin breed thus far is The International Cat Association (TICA).

5. Burmese

Brown Burmese cat in the garden
Image Credit: jojosmb, Shutterstock

While it’s easy to assume that the Burmese cat originated in Asia, this breed was actually developed when an American Siamese breeder was given a female cat from Burma with big eyes and walnut-brown fur. The breeder was so smitten with his little ball of fur that he decided to breed her with a Siamese male cat, and it’s all history from there.

The Burmese has a compact muscular build, making this cat heavier than it appears. These hefty cats are real charmers too. Burmese cats love being around their human owners, putting on adorable cat shows, and cuddling as much as they can.

The typical Burmese isn’t shy about vocalizing its needs. When this cat wants your attention, he’ll get it by meowing or making non-stop rumbling noises. Burmese cats come in sable brown, warm beige, pale gray, or medium gray with fawn undertones. These are intelligent, fun-loving cats that make wonderful family pets.

6. Sphynx

grey sphynx
Image Credit: Lightspruch, Shutterstock

The first time you lay eyes on a Sphynx cat, you may think you’re face to face with some type of weird alien. This medium-sized cat is easily identified by its hairless, wrinkled skin, big eyes, and enormous ears.

The Sphynx has a sleek, muscular body that’s dense and heavy for its size. Apart from its naked body, this cat’s most notable features are its bat-like ears that stand tall and erect. Once you get past its shocking looks, you’ll likely fall in love with a Sphynx as this cat has a charming and fun-loving personality.

This is a talkative breed that’s a champion purrer. The Sphynx is outgoing, mischievous, attention-seeking, and lots of fun to own. Because it’s a hairless breed, this cat has a higher-than-average body temperature and a big appetite to compensate for heat loss.

7. Minskin

minskin munchkin
Image Credit: Jaroslaw Kurek, Shutterstock

The Minskin is a breed developed in the United States during the late 1990s. This breed came about as a result of crossing the Munchkin and Sphynx breeds while using a Devon Rex and a Burmese. The goal was to create a small hairless cat with big ears and short legs.

The name Minskin comes from the words mini and skin. This cat indeed is hairless and with very short legs. This is an intelligent cat that’s as agile as an average-sized cat and it loves nothing more than climbing and getting into mischief.

While the Minskin is mostly hairless, it can have some fur at the points of the tail, legs, nose, ears, and face.  With its stocky body, the Minskin stands low to the ground and weighs around 4 pounds, making it a good cat to have in a small home or apartment. While this cat looks odd with its stocky body and small size, it’s not a hard cat to fall in love with because it has a loving and charming personality.

8. Peterbald

peterbald on the sofa
Image Credit: Natalia Belotelova, Shutterstock

Originating in Russia, the Peterbald is one of the world’s rarest cat breeds. This cat can be either totally hairless or have short hair that looks like peach fuzz. The Peterbald is a striking cat with almond-shaped eyes and gigantic ears that jut out from the top of its head toward the sides.

If you consider yourself a dog person but can’t have a canine, a Peterbald may be the ideal pet for you. This cat’s personality is often compared to that of a dog as it’s a loving, loyal, social, and affectionate cat that likes to shadow its favorite humans.

This is an outgoing, inquisitive, and beautiful cat that gets along well with dogs, other cats, and even small kids. This cat will play with anyone who gives it some positive attention. This is an athletic and active cat that will showcase its charm and intelligence by playing with puzzle toys and games much like a dog.

9. LaPerm

tri-color laperm cat
Image Credit: Linn Currie, Shutterstock

If you’re a fan of the popular 80’s perm hairstyle, you’re going to love meeting a LaPerm cat. This rare breed has kinky curls all over its body and it’s a charming, gentle, and affectionate cat that makes a great pet.

The LaPerm’s wavy coat came about via a mutated gene that was discovered in the 1980s, making this a relatively new breed. LaPerms come in a wide range of colors and have tight ringlets of hair near the stomach, neck, and ears.

This is a good cat to own if grooming isn’t your thing. A LaPerm cat’s kinky and wavy hair is low maintenance, plus these cats don’t shed much. This medium-sized breed has almond-shaped eyes, long legs, large ears, and long plumed tails.

When you own a LaPerm, you’d better be ready to lend out your lap as this cat will want to be close to you as often as possible. This is a loving cat that craves human attention and it’s a bit on the chatty side too. This cat is also very intelligent and fun-loving. It tends to get along well with other cats, dogs, and people of all ages, as long as it’s the center of attention most of the time. 

10. Serengeti

Serengeti cat
Image Credit: LTim, Shutterstock

The Serengeti is a mixed breed cat that’s a cross between a Bengal and an Oriental Shorthair. This is a highly energetic and active long-legged cat that needs to have room to climb and explore.

Serengetis thrive on attention and don’t like being left alone. These beautiful cats may not warm up quickly to new people and animals, but once they make friends, they’re very loyal for life.

The coat of this cat is short, smooth, and silky to the touch. While most Serengetis are either golden or gray, this cat can be smokey brown, solid black, dark brown, light beige, or even multicolored.

A Serengeti is an intelligent cat that can learn to use faucets, open cupboards and drawers, and figure all types of things out to get itself into plenty of trouble. That’s why this cat should be provided with lots of attention and interactive cat toys.

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Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning a bit about some of the most interesting, rare cat breeds. There’s something special about all these cats that make pet lovers fall head over heels in love. You have to admit that it’s not every day you run across a naked cat or one that looks like it walked straight out of an 80’s hair salon sporting a kinky perm!

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