Most Popular Cat Breeds: How to Find a Perfect Match for Your Kitty Needs

popular cat in star glasses
Stella Noble
Written by Stella Noble

Cats are the most popular pet in the US, according to research. Yes, there are actually more pet cats than dogs! This is understandable because cats are smaller, easier to take care of, and cost less. With rapid urbanization, there is also an advantage of cats being able to tolerate a strictly indoor life, which makes them more compatible with smaller living spaces and working families. Consequently, the most popular cat breeds in the US are those that can easily adapt to modern living conditions.

There are over 90 million registered pet cats only in the States. Most of them (about 95%) are domestic longhairs and shorthairs, and purebred sum up to only 5%. But even with the ratio largely in favor of feline mixed breeds, there are certain trends within the pedigreed population.

We will tell you about the most popular breeds in the States and the world, and why they are sought after. The good side of these breeds is that they are easy to find and relatively affordable. Hopefully, you’ll find a perfect match for your lifestyle.

14 of the Most Popular Breeds in the US

There is a good reason these breeds are so loved. They are easy to take care of, affectionate, and generally considered healthy and long living. For your convenience, we sorted the breeds by popularity.

#1: Persian Cat

Persian Cat

The Persian breed is a very old one. These gorgeous cats were smuggled into Europe in the 17th century from Persia, modern-day Iran. They were considered exotic at the time, and the breed quickly gained popularity within the noble families. They came to the US in the 19th century and charmed the New World just as easily.

What made them so popular in the first place? The list is long: their brachycephalic head shape makes them impossibly cute; their long, lush coat is gorgeous, and they have a lifespan averaging between 16 and 20 years.

Their temper is a perfect match for almost any family. Persians are not overly energetic. In fact, they love to chill in the armchair and warmly greet anyone that passes by. They get along with other cats, dogs, small animals, and kids.

The only downside of this breed is that all that beauty takes a lot of work. If you are thinking about getting a Persian, invest in a good grooming brush because you are going to need it. That rich coat needs regular maintenance. Otherwise it can get matted.

#2: Maine Coon

Maine Coon kittens

Born and bred in Maine, the story behind the Maine Coons’ origin is interesting. As the legend goes, when Marie Antoinette planned to flee France, her longhaired Angoras were boarded on the ship that was supposed to take her to safety.

The cats indeed arrived on the American coast safely, but without their royal mom. Maine Coons are allegedly bred from these noble cats. It’s easy to believe this story if you look at a typical Coon. They are very large cats, weighing between 13 and 20 lb, and they have a lush, long coat and huge paws.

Maine Coons make terrific family pets because of their well known dog-like personality, good nature, and extroverted character. This breed is easy to take care for as long as you make sure to add regular grooming sessions to your calendar.

#3: Siamese Cat

Siamese Cat

Here’s another aristocrat. Siamese were bred as cats for noble families in Siam, modern-day Thailand. In fact, only the royal family and Buddhist monks were allowed to own them! As trade became more open and Siam connected with Europe, these cats became a popular present to the important officials and foreign nobles. This is how the Siamese became one of the most popular breeds in the world.

Looking at these cats’ attitude, we are sure they still remember their royal ancestry. They are extremely intelligent, inquisitive, and probably the most vocal breed in existence. A Siamese will tell you everything about anything, all the time, whether you like it or not.

Their intelligence and agility need to be channeled, lest they become mischievous and destructive. Every Siamese owner will tell you that their home quickly became the cat’s playground, and there is never a quiet moment. But just one look at those mesmerizing blue eyes will make it all worthwhile.

#4: American Shorthair

American Shorthair

This breed’s ancestors came to the States as professional mousers. Actually, the American Shorthair’s legendary hunting abilities made them popular firstly with the Romans, who brought them to Britain.

To the layman’s eye, the American Shorthair is just a chubby tabby, but there are some characteristics that stand out. American Shorthairs have a round head, short, pointed ears, and very robust build. This made them perfect farm cats, but their temperament is also suited for family life.

They are great pets for energetic, large families and they adapt well to households with a lot of animals and kids.

#5: Exotic Shorthair

Exotic Shorthair on the floor

Imagine a shorthaired version of the Persian, for an owner who doesn’t have time to groom the cat all the time, and you’ve got yourself an Exotic Shorthair. They have all the lovely characteristics of the Persian but are low maintenance. This was achieved by crossing the Persian with the American Shorthair, getting the best of both worlds.

We are not saying you won’t need to brush this cat weekly, but it is far from the time and effort a Persian cat needs. Exotics are very quiet and loving, affectionate and gentle, and tend to bond with one human. Their mellow nature makes them great family pets.

Exotics are generally long-lived, but there are some health issues to take into consideration. The “extreme” version of the breed has a very short snout which can lead to breathing problems. Regular nose cleaning and routine vet check-ups are highly recommended.

#6: Ragdoll

Ragdoll cat on grass

This breed is a textbook definition of a gentle giant. Ragdolls can be very big, with some males weighing over 30 lb! Even so, they are incredibly meek and good-natured. The Ragdoll’s trademark move is going limp when you pick them up.

Interesting fact: the mother of the breed, a non-pedigreed, longhaired cat called Josephine, had a litter of very docile and affectionate kittens; they were so appealing to the owner that she decided to make a new breed with these specific traits. Since then, this breed has been popular with families who prefer a cat with a calm, gentle character.

#7: Burmese Cat

Burmese Cat

These beautiful and relatively small cats have a very long history. They were known in South-East Asia in the 12th century, and as the name suggests, originate from Burma (today known as Myanmar). Later, when they were brought to Great Britain, they were known as the “Copper Siamese.”

Although there is a lot of resemblance between these two breeds—like the chattiness and the agility—the Burmese are much more robust and muscular. They can climb on anything and are known pranksters, but are also very affectionate and known to be clingy.

If you are into a cat that would rather be by your side than anywhere else and always has something to say, look no further.

#8: Birman Cat

Birman Cat with bright blue eyes

Burma obviously has a thing for cats, because this beauty is also from this country. In their country of origin, Birmans were companions of priests and dwelled in temples. They came to Europe in a seemingly usual way for the time—they were smuggled to France.

The most eye-catching physical trait of this breed are the white “socks” on all four feet. Legend says that this is how the Birman was created. One of the temple cats was defending her dying master, who tried to protect the statue of the temple goddess during a bandit attack. The temple was defended but her master died, and his soul was transferred into her.

The cat, formerly white, changed her coat color into the golden color of the statue, but her feet, still touching the body of her deceased master, remained white as a symbol of purity. To this day, Birmans are known as the “Sacred Cats of Burma.”

This breed is known for their loving and gentle temperament and can get along with other cats, dogs, and small children.

#9: Oriental Cat

Oriental Cat with green eyes

Oriental cats are a true piece of art. Their appearance is very unique, even strange. Progenitors of the breed are the Siamese and the Cornish Rex, giving this kitty a very slim, elegant appearance and unusual coat color.

Orientals are very easy to recognize; they have a triangular face, huge ears, and big, almond-shaped eyes. Since the Siamese is a part of this mix, don’t expect your Oriental to be quiet. They are well-known chatterboxes and enjoy a good conversation with their owner.

#10: Sphynx

Sphynx with spotted coat

American favorite feline nudist, this cat might be weird looking, but the demand for this naked alien is growing every year. They originated in Canada, as a product of a natural mutation.

Inquisitive, highly energetic, and with a very extroverted personality, these oddballs are perfect pets for a big family. However, they do need some extra attention when it comes to skin care and should be kept strictly indoors. The Sphynx is a very healthy breed that can live for more than 15 years.

#11: Russian Blue

Russian Blue

Beautiful greyish-blue fur, mesmerizing green eyes, and a winning smile; this is what the Russian Blue is known for. This is also one of the most intelligent breeds of cats in the world that will always keep you on your toes. They are known to figure out how to open doors and cabinets, sneak into drawers, and hide their human’s stuff just for the fun of it.

These cats come from the harsh Russian climate, so they are hardy and generally healthy. They have one odd quirk, though—change is not their thing. Russian Blues like consistency in life, so they don’t make good pets for people who frequently change homes. They are also not too tolerant of toddlers, puppies, and anyone else interrupting their domestic bliss for that matter.

#12: Bengal

Bengal Cat

Do you want a hint of the wilderness in your home? Then the Bengal is the perfect breed for you! This cat has a wild ancestry—it is a cross of the various Asian Leopard cat hybrids. The kittens were carefully selected to preserve the wild look, from the facial markings to the powerful hind legs that give this kitty impressive speed.

Bengals have a beautiful spotted coat that doesn’t require much of your attention. However, since the breed became very popular, there were lots of irresponsible breeders looking for a quick buck, so be careful who you’re buying from.

This breed needs a lot of exercises, so we don’t recommend it if you are not eager to engage in a lot of playtimes.

#13: British Shorthair

British Shorthair kitten

Who is the face behind the famous Cheshire cat? Yes, it’s the British Shorthair. The breed is recognizable by its chubby cheeks, huge eyes, and a permanent smiling expression.

British people are absolutely bonkers about them, and while they are very popular in the States, the British Shorthair is a number one purebred cat in the UK. No wonder, the mentality seems to be very similar—well dressed, calm, polite and a bit smug.

This breed is very low maintenance when it comes to grooming, has an even temper, and makes an excellent family pet, as long as there is not too much turbulence. Just give these cats a shelf to chill out on, and they will be as happy as cats can be.

#14: Scottish Fold

Scottish Fold

A long time ago (well, not THAT long ago—in the 1960s to be precise), there was a Scottish queen named Susie. She was a simple barn cat, but she was special in her own way—she was born with a natural genetic mutation that gave her a pair of folded ears.

This trait made her look like an adorable cross between a cat and an owl, and the Scottish Fold breed was born. Susie gave birth to a litter of kittens with the same trait, and they quickly became very popular amongst the cat lovers. No surprise there!

Not only are they incredibly cute, but they are also great pets that love human company. Children, adults, dogs, other pets… If you ask the Scottish Fold, the more, the merrier.

Wrap Up

popular cat

Purebred cats are a good way to be sure what you’re getting—you can predict the size, temperament, and health with great certainty. However, if you decided to go with a pedigreed pet, make sure to buy from a responsible breeder.

Many people get carried away and buy cats that are easy to get and cheap, which doesn’t necessarily mean that the breeder took care about avoiding genetic diseases.

Furthermore, many breeds have known health problems that can make your life very hard and take a lot of out of your pocket. This is why it is extremely important to do your homework before buying; do some research about the breeder and talk to other owners who have the same breed. The most important thing, after all, is to have a happy and healthy pet for many years to come.

Which popular cat breed do you think will be able to fit right into your home? Let us know in the comments section below! And don’t forget to check out our article on celebrity cat names to find the perfect name for your new popular cat.

About the author
Stella Noble
Stella Noble

Stella Noble lives in Warren, Michigan with her family and three cats. She is a Certified Cat Trainer and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.