If you’re a cat lover, you know each kitty has a unique personality: they’re stubborn, friendly, goofy, relaxed, wise, or all of the above! Some cats love to play all day while others prefer to lounge around, but no matter what type of feline friend you have, every one of them is lovable.
There are lesser-known breeds out there that come with their own collective physical and personal quirks. You probably haven’t heard of all these 22 rare breeds of cats before, but we guarantee you they’re all absolutely fascinating — and purrfect!
1. Khao Manee: These snow-whites are from Thailand. Their name means white gem, though they’re also referred to as Diamond Eyes because of their unique peepers. Devoted to humans, they’re quite popular among royalty and celebrities in Asia.
2. American Curl: While most cats flip their ears inside out by accident, this cat is famous for its shell-shaped ears. When they’re young, their ears are actually straight, but they curl gradually over time!
3. Devon Rex: Their name gives away their origin — these kitties are from Devon, England! They look bald but actually have a very thin coat that is very soft. They are incredibly intelligent, playful, and often called “a monkey in a cat’s suit.”
4. Savannah: No, this is not a cheetah! It’s a cross between an African Serval and a domestic cat. They have a unique ear shape and can grow up to 25 pounds, which is 2-3 times as heavy as an average house cat!
5. Selkirk Rex: This breed originating in Montana has only been around for about 30 years. It has curly long fur and a thick head and body. All Selkirk Rexes’ roots trace back to one single cat named Miss DePesto.
6. Munchkin: They’re named quite appropriately due to their short little legs, high enthusiasm, and wobbly walking. Its nickname, for obvious reasons, is “sausage cat.” The name “munchkin” is from writer L. Frank Baum’s novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
7. Sphynx: They were accidentally created in Canada in 1960s, and their skin shows the colors/patterns of where their fur would be — if they had any! They’re named after the Egyptian statue that’s half cat, half human, perhaps due to their human-like skin.
8. American Wirehair: This may look like your regular run-of-the-mill kitty cat, but its fur has a different texture from a domestic shorthair. In 2002, there were just 39 of these babies registered, and in 2018, there were only 22!
9. Scottish fold: These guys are chubby, fluffy, and very adaptable — and would you look at those little ears! They are often compared to owls due to their eyes and ears, but they’re incredibly friendly.
10. Ukrainian Levkoy: The breed is actually not recognized by any major international cat fancier and breeder organizations, only Ukrainian and Russian clubs. What’s especially rare about them is that male and female species look different.
11. Cornish Rex: Instead of regular fur, this breed has a down-like fluffy coat, but they lose their hair as it thins with age, much like humans. They’re similar to the Devon Rex, except they have different genes and are originally from Cornwall, England. They can also live longer than most other breeds!
12. Japanese Bobtail: Their small tail is genetic and unique to each cat, like a fingerprint. Despite most cats needing their tails to jump, this breed is incredibly athletic and agile, making them prime candidates for cat shows, which are fairly popular in Japan.
13. Donskoy: This is a new breed, recognized by the World Cat Federation in 1997 and by The International Cat Association in 2005. Despite their lack of a coat, they do require frequent grooming, but their friendly demeanor makes it all worth it.
14. Laperm: The LaPerm emerged around the early ’80s as a spontaneous mutation of cats bred for pest control in Oregon. They may be extra furry, but these cutie pies are actually hypo-allergenic!
15. Lykoi: Also known as the werewolf cat, the Lykoi has become a Championship Breed. Their bodies are mostly covered with hair, but their faces are often completely hairless. Scientists at the University of Tennessee tried to find the reason why, but the Lykoi’s coat pattern remained a mystery.
16. Lambkin: The name derives from their short-legged counterparts, Munchkins, and the fact that their fur looks like the wool of a lamb. The breed didn’t exist until 1990, so they are still extremely rare.
17. Minskin: This Sphinx mix was created (after many, many attempts) by Paul McSorley in Boston, Massachusetts. By early 2005, about 50 cats meeting the Minskin vision existed and were registered by The International Cat Association.
18. Pixie-bob: In 1986, a woman from Washington rescued a male cat, which was very large, had a bobbed tail, and was reported to have been sired by a bobcat. When it mated with the neighbor’s cat, she kept one of the kittens and named it Pixie — hence its name.
19. Russian Blue: This cat’s fur is so gray it almost looks blue in the right kind of light. While the Russian Blue is somewhat hypoallergenic, they are incredibly vocal, so make sure that works for you if you plan on getting one.
20. Teacup Persian: These miniature versions of Persian cats are so small, they can fit into teacups as kittens. It may not officially be its own separate breed, but these little ones are hard to find, and thus a pretty rare type of cat. Watch out, though — cats this small might have a few health problems!
21. Peterbald: This large-eared feline has a hair-losing gene and can be born bald or furry. Those born with hair can lose it over time. They are extremely friendly to kids and other pets.
22. Bengal: Unlike most cats, they love water and do not mind splashing around in a bath. They are incredibly intelligent, as they can solve puzzles, turn lights on and off, and even learn how to ride a skateboard!