Rare Cat Breeds: Discover a Feline Unicorn

rare cat breed
Stella Noble
Written by Stella Noble

If you are considering a purebred cat, you might end up with choice paralysis. So many breeds, so much research, so much ground to cover. Sure, there are choices that seem like no-brainers, but have you ever considered rare cat breeds? You might get pleasantly surprised by the diversity and unique traits of those scarcely found felines. Let us give you a few suggestions.

Whatever breed you choose, you are still going to get an eccentric roommate who poops in a box. Having said that, there is still a good reason behind choosing a purebred pet. One of the advantages is pedigree; you can be certain of your pet’s ancestors, how they were treated, if there are any hereditary health issues, and what their personalities are like.

The list we made for you consists of two parts. Firstly we will talk about the breeds that are widely known amongst the cat lovers, but there is still a relatively small number of individuals representing the breed. Secondly, we will introduce you to some obscure, exotic breeds that are rarely seen outside of their place of origin and are hard to acquire. Maybe one of them is your new best buddy?

Breeds that are Famous but Rare

You have probably heard about most of these breeds, but have you ever seen any of them in real life? Most of them are rare for a good reason—either they are very expensive, or they need special living conditions, like a specific climate, diet, or health care.

#1: Savannah


These cats are gorgeous, temperamental, and insanely expensive. Depending on the generation, they can cost up to $20,000! This means that the first generation, the one that is 50% wild, costs the most.

Savannah is a cross between a domestic cat and the African serval, so they have many traits of the wild cats, while keeping the human-friendly attitude and playfulness of a domestic cat.

Known to be very dog-like. Savannah cats will follow their human around the house, play fetch, and gladly walk on a leash. The downside is that they are very inquisitive.

Savannah cats can easily learn how to open doors and cabinets, use water faucets (some even take showers on their own because they love water), and there is no place they can’t jump on. This breed is a handful and will keep you on your toes.

#2: Turkish Van

Turkish Van

Everyone knows about these feline oddballs. A cat that loves to swim? Preposterous! But did you know that this breed is actually from the United Kingdom? Two original breeders selected cats from various Turkish cities and bred them to make a breed with the recognizable coat pattern—red marks on the head and the tail of the otherwise white coat.

The breed name comes from the Van cats, a natural breed that comes from the Lake Van area, but the breeder’s notes don’t mention any of the original cats coming from that area. The only thing Turkish Vans have in common with their alleged ancestors is their love for water.

#3: Egyptian Mau

Egyptian Mau

Green eyes, naturally spotted coat, and a royal attitude; no wonder Ancient Egyptians idolized cats! With running speed of more than 30 mph, Maus are the fastest domesticated cats.

They have a characteristic skin flap between their stomach and the back legs that lets them extend their stride, and their hind legs are longer than the front, which gives them extra agility.

Even though they are not particularly hard to obtain, the number of registered Egyptian Mau kittens does not exceed a couple of hundreds per year. They do need a lot of space and are very active, which might be off-putting for an average city dweller. These cats are not made for small apartments.

#4: Korat

Korat cat

Korat cats are recognizable due to their emerald green eyes and silver-blue coat. They are very chatty, alert, and active, which makes them an ideal indoor-outdoor pet. Nothing goes unnoticed with this kitty; they hunt everything that moves.

This breed originated in Thailand and has a very long history. It appeared in ancient manuscripts, where they are described as fortune bearers and good omens. To this day, the Korat is considered a national cat in Thailand and is traditionally gifted to newlyweds to bring fortune and prosperity. Oddly enough, it is one of the rarest breeds in the world.

#5: LaPerm


LaPerms are the poodles of the feline world. They have curly, long hair similar to their canine counterpart. Intelligent, devoted, and gentle, this breed is beautiful inside and out. This breed appeared accidentally, as a result of a natural genetic mutation.

The first LaPerm was born as an American citizen in 1982, on a farm in Oregon. Curly, as she was later named, was actually born coatless and developed the amazing curly coat later. She was the progenitor of the breed.

#6: Abyssinian


Allegedly originating from Ethiopia (formerly Abyssinia). The story goes as follows: in the 19th century, British soldiers who were deployed to North Africa fell in love with these gorgeous kitties and decided to take some kittens home. They were later bred in the UK and the Abyssinian cat that we have today is the product of that endeavor.

The distinct coat color of this breed is called “agouti”—a pattern which gives them a copperish color with a silky appearance. This breed is extremely people-oriented—very intelligent and attention seeking. Probably the most distinctive trait of the Abyssinians is their chirrup—an unusual vocalization one wouldn’t expect from a cat.

#7: Toyger


As the name suggests, this cat is a true toy tiger! The breed is a cross of a Bengal cat and domestic tabbies, which, with careful selection, brought us the miniature living room tiger.

This lovely kitty has a plush orange coat with black stripes and relatively short legs, which gives them a tiger-like impression of movement. But there is really nothing feral about a Toyger—they are great family pets and very people oriented.

Rare and Exotic Cat Breeds

Breeds that are introduced in this section are not only rare, but also very seldomly presented. Some of them have a very strange appearance, some are hard to get by, and others are so valued in their countries of origin that export is banned!

Nonetheless, take a look at the list, maybe there is a perfect breed for you.

#1: Manx


Manx cats are best known for the complete lack of a tail. While some individuals do have a stub, most of them are born with no tail whatsoever. The lack of tail was a natural mutation in their place of origin, the Isle of Man.

There are many Manx tales explaining the appearance of this breed. One of them says that Noah, in a hurry to close the door of his ark, accidentally cut off the Manx’s tail while she was rushing inside to get away from the rain.

Another one tells us of the romantic relationship between a cat and a rabbit, which gave the Manx their hopping habits, long hind legs, and a lack of tail. All of these stories have some truth to them; Manx cats are extremely fast, keen hunters, and are often used as mousers on ships.

#2: Japanese Bobtail

Japanese Bobtail

You might be surprised, but this pretty kitty is the face behind Hello Kitty! As the famous franchise suggests, this breed is very joyful and energetic. Japanese Bobtails are perfect for large families with other pets since they love people, dogs, and everything else that moves.

If you think you can’t have a pet because you travel too much, think again. These cats are incredibly adventurous and are known for their perfect behavior while travelling. New places like hotel rooms, other people’s homes, or even nightclubs are not something they will shy away from. Japanese Bobtails are perfect sidekicks and will happily follow you wherever you go.

#3: Kurilian Bobtail

Kurilian Bobtail

This is a breed coming from the Kuril Islands, a small stretch of islands between Kamchatka and Japan. This breed definitely deserves an article on its own, because Kurilian Bobtails are truly amazing.

In their place of origin, they are prized as outstanding hunters, but aren’t all cats? What brings this giant cat into the spotlight is that she hunts in packs. Allegedly, a pack of Kurilians can bring down a small bear!

On the other hand, they are very affectionate with humans and small children, maybe because they value their own family so much. The males take care of the kittens together with the female and stay within the family, unlike other felines. They are very popular in Russia these days but are very hard to get by in other parts of the world.

#4: Siberian Cat

Siberian Cat

These kitties come from Russian forests. They are a very large breed, second only to the Maine Coon. Siberians have a lush, long overcoat and two thick underlayers, which helps them thrive in the unforgiving Russian wilderness. Needless to say, they are gorgeous, exceptional hunters, and very independent.

What makes this breed special is that it produces much less FLD1 protein than an average cat, which makes it as close to hypoallergenic as possible. This is a perfect cat for people with mild cat allergies, as long as you can tolerate the shedding. It is said that Siberians shed only twice a year, for six months each time.

#5: Balinese Cat

Balinese Cat

Imagine a long-haired Siamese that doesn’t talk as much? It’s not a fantasy; it’s a real breed. Balinese cats are very similar in color and markings to their Siamese relatives but are not nearly as mischievous and chatty. The only reason they are so rare is that, well, people obviously prefer the slimmer figure of their relative.

#6: Bombay Cat

Bombay Cat

This miniature panther was intentionally created in the 1950s by crossing a black American Shorthair and a Burmese cat. Bombay cats are on the small side, but that doesn’t mean they lack energy. Some Bombay owners affectionately call them “velcro cats” because they can be very clingy and attention seeking. This cat just won’t tolerate alone time.

#7: Ragamuffin


As you’ve probably already guessed, the “Raga” part of their name comes from their temperament resemblance to Ragdoll cats. Ragamuffins are also descendants from the same breed. These are very big cats, with a long coat and a set of round eyes. The only reason for the rarity of this breed is that it’s still very new. Ragamuffins have only been recognized recently.

#8: Chartreux

Chartreux cat

This is a very old French breed, even considered a national cat. But even in their home country, these lovely kittens with blue coats are very rare. Chartreux cats are traditionally favored by nobles and government officials, because they are known for their good behavior and quietness.

In fact, it is said that good social etiquette comes from the French monks who originally bred them and imposed their vows of silence on Chartreuses. They might be quiet, but they are not thick; their intelligence and hunting skills are highly praised. In fact, if your Chartreux decides it’s bedtime, she might turn off the lights on her own.

#9: Peterbald


If you think a Sphynx is an alien, wait until you meet a Peterbald. Their ears look like SETI radars, their eyes seem to be borrowed from the Grey Aliens, and their meow can wake up the dead. To make things even more surprising, Peterbalds come from Russia.

They have a very fast metabolism, so their body temperature is somewhat higher than an average cat. You aren’t impressed? Well, this breed is very affectionate, likes to travel, and is easily leash trained.

Peterbald is a fairly new breed, so it hasn’t gained much popularity yet, but people who like a superheater oddball chasing everything around the apartment might want to visit Petersburg.

#10: Ojos Azules

Ojos Azules

Literally translated to “Azure Eyes,” the Ojos Azules probably has the most gorgeous eye color in the world. But they are not all about the looks. Azzys are very affectionate and eager to please humans, meaning that it’s fairly easy to train them.

Also, they seem to be very uninterested in high places, so no worries about climbing shelves and cupboards. They are a new, American breed, so why not be one of the first Azzy owners?

#11: Minskin


Very small in size and forever kitten like, this adorable little alien with oversized ears is a perfect companion for people living in small apartments. But this small cat has a huge heart—they thrive in households with multiple pets and toddlers. Whether you are a loner living in a cramped condo or a member of a huge family, the Minskin is a good choice.

#12: Sokoke


Believe it or not, there are less than a hundred individuals of this breed in the entire world! This comes as really surprising given that this is a naturally occurring breed, originating from Kenya.

A small local tribe discovered this kitty and offered it a home with humans, which this cat embraced immediately. The original name actually translates to “tree bark like” because of the cat’s coat colors, perfect for hiding in the wilderness.

Sokoke cats are amazing jumpers and racers, and consequently, perfect hunters. Unfortunately, as their natural habitat is shrinking, so is the number of individuals.

#13: Serengeti Cat

Serengeti Cat

The long-legged beauty with a gorgeous spotted coat can jump as high as 7 feet! The Serengeti cat is a cross of the Bengal and the Oriental cat, has a very energetic temperament, and loves to talk. The purpose of making this breed was to make a cat that looks wild, like a serval for example, but without introducing wild genes and consequent unwanted traits.

#14: Singapura Cat

 Singapura Cat

Behold the smallest cat of them all! But what they lack in size, they compensate for in personality… Maybe even overcompensate. Singapuras are very opinionated, like to share their thoughts, and don’t be surprised if you catch yourself arguing with a member of this breed.

They have to be in the spotlight at all times, whether it’s a family reunion or your dinner plate. Some owners say they don’t know they are cats, but think they are an improved version of humans. Chatty, playful, and impossibly cute, they are a perfect addition to an active family.

#15: Highlander


This breed is really new and very unusual looking. Highlanders are polydactyls (meaning that they have extra toes on their paws), have short, sometimes curly tails, and the most prominent characteristic of the breed—curved ears!

Yes, a Highlander’s ears naturally curve backward. This gives them an amazing appearance, especially because they are very large cats. Oddities don’t stop here though, because they will gladly join you for a swim.

This breed is actually a cross of two other hybrids: the Jungle Curl and the Desert Lynx, so they have a bit of a wild ancestry. Highlanders are very active, mischievous, and energetic, so if you fell in love with this breed, make sure to provide a lot of space and playtime.

Wrap Up

rare cat

Getting a purebred pet always seems like a safe way to get exactly what you wish for. But keep one thing in mind: every living being is an individual, and this is especially true when it comes to cats. The breed description is just a rough frame of probabilities, giving you an approximate window for what you can expect rather than a definite list of traits.

Additionally, acquiring a purebred pet doesn’t come without risks. Hereditary diseases are very common in pure lineages, sometimes even unavoidable. But buying an animal from a reputable breeder always puts this risk to a minimum and discourages kitten and puppy mills which bring a lot of harm to the overall health of the animals. Be responsible, choose wisely, and you will enjoy many years with your beloved cat!

Which one of the rare breeds on this list do you like most? Are you interested in adopting one of them? Do you know of other rare breeds we should mention? If you decide to adopt a cat of a rare breed, check out our list of exotic cat names to find one that suits them!

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.