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Top 10 rarest cats in the world

Published: Updated:

There are now 71 cat breeds recognized by the International Cat Association (TICA)- excluding the average household cat, typically known as the domestic shorthair, while the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) only recognizes 40 breeds.

According to the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), all purebred cats can be considered rare as more cat breeds are created every day.

Here are the top 10 rarest cat breeds in the world.

10. Turkish Van

Turkish Van cat, taken from the Cat Fanciers' Association. (CFA)
Turkish Van cat, taken from the Cat Fanciers' Association. (CFA)

The Turkish Van cat, a natural breed that originates from the Middle East, is known for its unique pattern.

The breed got its name from its distinctive pattern which involves a colored head and some tail markings.

Solidly built, this semi-long-haired cat has a very powerful body and takes up a full 3 to 5 years to reach full maturity, according to online pet adoption website Petfinder.

Playful and extremely active, this cat can usually be found in Iran, Iraq, and eastern Turkey, according to the CFA. Around 100 of them are born in the US each year, making it one of the rarest cat breeds in the world today.

9. LaPerm

LaPerm Cat. (Vet Street)
LaPerm Cat. (Vet Street)

Known for their curly fur, LaPerm cats are unique felines that can come in both long and shorthair. These highly intelligent cats’ wavy coat is the result of a mutation that was discovered in the 1980s, making them a relatively new breed.

This cat breed tends to be very quiet yet highly playful and active, according to Petfinder.

8. Chartreux

Chartreux Cat. (Vet Street)
Chartreux Cat. (Vet Street)

Sometimes referred to as “the smiling blue cat of France,” this cat breed is said to have enjoyed a quiet life when they were brought to France’s Carthusian monasteries by Crusaders. This breed is considered to be the national cat of France.

This cat breed only recently made an appearance in the US, making it a beloved rarity.

After the Second World War, this cat breed was nearly extinct but was saved by the efforts of breeders.

7. Tonkinese

Tonkinese Cat. (Petfinder)
Tonkinese Cat. (Petfinder)

Known for being extremely active and very adaptable to other animals and humans alike, Tonkinese cats have more of an innocent personality.
Attention-craving and highly affectionate, Tonkinese cats are great companions for dogs, however they could annoy more laid-back animals since they need to be around creatures that have a similar activity level.

A cross between the Burmese and Siamese, these cats are intelligent, very vocal and engaging.

6. Egyptian Mau

Egyptian Mau Cat. (CFA)
Egyptian Mau Cat. (CFA)

Just 6,700 Egyptian Mau cats have been registered with the CFA, making them one of the world’s rarest cat breeds.

It is also the only natural domesticated breed of spotted cat, according to Petfinder. A medium-sized cat, this feline is extremely playful, active and energetic with very well-developed muscles.

5. Minskin

An attendee holds a Sweet Minskin cat during the 141st Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City, U.S. February 11, 2017. (Reuters)
An attendee holds a Sweet Minskin cat during the 141st Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City, U.S. February 11, 2017. (Reuters)

With its short legs and stocky body, this feline has been compared to the Corgi dog.

Outgoing and affectionate, these cats are ideal indoor companions. The Minskin cat is a result of crossbreeding between the Munchkin and Burmese cats with the addition of Devon Rex and the Sphynx.

4. Norwegian Forest cat

 Alaric, a Norwegian Forest Cat takes part in the second annual Meet the Breeds showcase of cats and dogs at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on October 17, 2010 in New York City. (AFP)
Alaric, a Norwegian Forest Cat takes part in the second annual Meet the Breeds showcase of cats and dogs at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on October 17, 2010 in New York City. (AFP)

Native to Norway, the Norwegian Forest is very playful and active and is well-known for its fun-loving spirit.

This breed is very family-oriented and tend to bond to several people at once.

Known for being very friendly towards other pets, these cats are very docile and intelligent, according to Petfinder.

This cat breed is quite rare, but can mainly be found in Europe.

3. Kurilian Bobtail

Kurilian Bobtail cat. (Catster)
Kurilian Bobtail cat. (Catster)

The Kurilian Bobtail cat is a super rare breed, with only around 100 cats in North America alone, according to TICA.

While many breeds’ unique features are developed with human assistance and manipulation, the Kurilian Bobtail is a completely natural breed with no two tails that look alike. They’re known for having extremely short tails, a truly unique characteristic of the breed’s physical appearance.

2. Devon Rex

Devon Rex cat. (PetMD)
Devon Rex cat. (PetMD)

The Devon Rex cat earned its name from its place of origin, Devonshire, in the United Kingdom.

“The Devon Rex is a breed of unique appearance. The breed’s large eyes, short muzzle, prominent cheekbones, and huge, low-set ears create a characteristic elfin look,” according to Petfinder.

1. Sokoke Cat

Sokoke Cat. (Your Cat Magazine)
Sokoke Cat. (Your Cat Magazine)

The Sokoke Cat is the rarest domestic cat breed in the world, according to the UK’s Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF).

Originating from the forests of Sokoke in eastern Kenya, these cats were previously considered a hybrid breed of a cross between wild cats but DNA results have debunked this theory.

“A peace-loving, keenly aware and intelligent shorthaired breed, the Sokoke is playful and family oriented, forming close bonds with both feline and human family members,” according to the GCCF.

“The Sokoke is unique in that it has a see-through ticked tabby pattern, with ticking in both the ground color and pattern itself, even including the tail tip. This camouflaged pattern can also include outlining over the shoulders and below the spine. They have a tip-toe gait in the rear that becomes more pronounced when they are excited. Leggy, with large upright ears and lithe, graceful movements, they are moderately active and easy to keep.”

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