No one can deny the cuteness of a kitten. They are incredibly playful and affectionate. If only that stage could last forever… Well, actually, it can, because there are a lot of small cat breeds that stay kitten-like for the entirety of their lives!
Small cat breeds are an ideal choice for people who live in very small apartments. They also stay playful and keep their happy-go-lucky attitude in adulthood. Another plus is that they are relatively cheap to keep and don’t require a lot of maintenance. They’re big personalities that come in small packages.
Breeds that are going to be introduced in this article are divided into two groups: cats that are purposely bred to be of small posture but are otherwise the same as their bigger relatives, and cats with dwarfism. We are going to introduce you to both types. We are also going to discuss necessary precautions when adopting from certain breeds because irresponsible breeding can cause a lot of health issues.
9 Small Cat Breeds
Breeds introduced in this section are all small in size—not weighing over 10 lbs. Although they all share this one trait, they have very different characters and needs. Hopefully, you’ll find a perfect match for your lifestyle somewhere on this list!
#1: Sphynx Cat
Weight: 5-10 lbs.
These famous feline nudists are on the small side…relatively speaking. While they are far from the smallest breed, their lack of fur makes them look a lot smaller than the average cat. Despite this, their eyes and ears obviously didn’t get the memo and stayed big, giving this breed a very alienish look.
Contrary to widespread belief, Sphynx cats are not entirely hairless. They are covered in fine down (fur resembling undercoat) that is very delicate and short. What people usually spot first is the wrinkles, which makes these cats look like they are wearing a suit two times bigger than their size.
Sphynxes are adorable, affectionate, and very playful. There is hardly a breed more devoted to its human companion.
#2: Singapura Cat
Weight: 4-8 lbs.
The queen of small cats, this breed is considered to be the smallest of all, weighing only one half of an average cat. But don’t be fooled by their size—the Singapura are very muscular, agile, and love to climb!
This breed partly originates from Singapore (it has been altered somewhat in the New World). What makes the Singapura unique is the amazing fur color, humongous eyes, and a cute, snub nose.
If you fall in love with this petite silky delight, make sure you like long conversations. And that you’re completely fine with a cat sleeping on your face. Personal space is not in this breed’s dictionary. Singapuras love their humans and want to be in the center of everything, be that the kitchen table or family gatherings.
#3: Oriental Shorthair
Weight: 5-9 lbs.
Maybe not the smallest of them all, but they have a very lean, long body that leaves you with the impression of a cat with a small frame. They have long, muscular legs and a very long tail. Did we mention the huge ears? Combined with the almond-shaped green or blue eyes, the overall look of this cat is very unique.
Orientals are close relatives of Siamese cats and have a very similar mindset. This means that they are highly intelligent and need to be mentally stimulated if you want to keep them sane—and if you want to keep your own sanity because a bored Oriental is a destructive beast.
Orientals are very affectionate and demand a lot of attention. When they’re not playing and zooming around the house, they will be in your lap demanding snuggles.
#4: American Curl
Weight: 6-10 lbs.
Although this breed varies a lot when it comes to size, there are lines purposely bred to be small, without losing the main characteristics of the breed.
They have wonderful silky fur and adorable face, but that’s not what makes them unique. Due to a mutation, American Curls have ears folded backwards.
Generally speaking, this is a healthy breed with a healthy gene pool. They come in almost all colors, ranging from white to black and including wonderful variations such as red, chocolate, and lilac.
This breed is very easy going and affectionate. They love to play but won’t say no to a good snuggling session. American Curls are a good choice for families with older children.
Weight: 4-8 lbs.
One of the oldest breeds in the world, we know they come from the Ethiopian region, but not a lot more. The color of this breed’s fur is absolutely amazing, varying from light brown to copper.
Their intelligence is also formidable—an average Abyssinian can easily figure out how to manipulate you and prank you in very creative ways, if not exercised enough. Abbys are also very mischievous so make sure you’re prepared for this; this cat is definitely not for a household where people expect to have quiet evenings with a cat in the lap.
What’s more, they don’t like to be held at all. Playtime? Sure! Cuddle piles? Not so much.
Weight: 4-8 lbs.
This breed has an amazing coat color. You like dark chocolate? Get a matching kitty! It’s not just color, though, because their fur is incredibly silky and shiny. They almost look like miniature panthers.
Although they are relatively small in size, they are very heavy. This is because Burmese cats have very muscular bodies. Another distinctive trait of these cats is their chattiness. They will talk your ears off, all the while making sure that you’re listening and following you from room to room.
If you want peace and quiet, this is not the right breed for you. Also, if you work long hours, make sure your Burmese has a play buddy. Loneliness is not something they take well. Their prominent extroverted character makes them a perfect pet for big families in which someone is always home.
#7: Devon Rex
Weight: 4-8 lbs.
These beauties are the fashion models of the feline world. Just look at one of them and you’ll immediately know why. Beautiful, big, almond-shaped eyes, huge ears, slender bodies, and curly coat. And it’s not just the looks.
Devons move with such grace that it seems they are not touching the ground. Some people even say that, if elves were real, this breed would be their first choice.
An interesting fact: their wavy coat is a natural mutation that’s not related to the mutation found in Cornish Rex cats. It is carried by a different gene. Regarding character, Devons are active and always at full speed. They love children and dogs, as long as everyone behaves well.
#8: Cornish Rex
Weight: 4-9 lbs.
There’s another fabulous princess of the feline world. They are incredibly graceful and beautiful. Their coat is curly and has no outer layer, so it feels silky and soft to the touch.
These cats are very healthy if bred responsibly and can live for a very long time—some even stepping into the third decade. Cornish Rex cats develop a very strong bond with their human. This is why families that travel a lot or don’t spend a lot of time at home wouldn’t be a perfect choice for this breed.
Oh, and they really like to talk. Tell them all about your day, because they want to discuss it as much as possible.
#9: German Rex
Weight: 4-9 lbs. This cat has a mutation on the same gene as Cornish Rex, although it developed independently. There were many stories about curly kittens in Germany during the last century, meaning that German Rex cats have been around for much longer time than the breed itself, only no one really thought much of it.
This is why the German Rex is a great choice for those who are wary of inheritable diseases. This breed is very healthy and has a good genetic background. Basically, this is your standard cat with a curly coat and smaller posture—if you can find one, that is, because they are still not as popular as the other curly cats.
Dwarf Cat Breeds
These breeds have very short legs which are due to a genetic mutation. That doesn’t mean there is something wrong with them, though—they are just as amazing as regular-sized cats.
#1: Munchkin Cat
Weight: 5-9 lbs.
This breed’s most distinctive feature is their short, stubby legs. This is caused by a natural mutation, but if bred responsibly, there should be no problems with the spine.
Even though they are vertically challenged, there is hardly a cat that can compete with a Munchkin on ground level. You could say they are fast and furious, as long as they don’t have to jump.
Playful, smart, and very good natured, Munchkins are great pets for families with a full house. They love small children and other cats, and can be besties with dogs if both are socialized from an early age. Make sure to have a lot of easily accessible toys lying around, because Munchkin cats need a lot of exercises.
Weight: 4-7 lbs.
A cross between a Munchkin and a Sphynx cat, Bambinos are not only short-legged, but also naked! Some people might think this is a very off-putting combo, but just 5 minutes in the same room with this little monkey will make them change their minds.
Bambinos are incredibly playful and agile, and incredibly affectionate. Unlike Munchkin cats, they can jump just as good as “normal” cats. No back problems with this little alien!
Although they don’t need grooming in the classical sense, they do need to be bathed and cleaned once a week. Oh, and if you’ve always wanted to dress up your pet, here is a perfect cat for you. They don’t mind a fashionable sweater.
Weight: 4-5 lbs.
A cross between a Munchkin, Sphynx, and an American Curl. So, a naked dwarf is not weird enough for you? How about adding curled ears to the mixture? Congrats, now you have the Dwelf.
They are very loyal, affectionate, and active. It is very important to adopt this cat from a responsible breeder because even the smallest slip in pedigree line can lead to severe skeletal problems.
Weight: 4-5 lbs.
A cross between Munchkin, Sphynx, Devon Rex, and a Burmese cat, the Minskin comes in three varieties: hairless, fully coated, and fur point, meaning that most of the body is hairless except for the feet, tail, and ears.
This cat also has a very, very long tail. In fact, the tail can be longer than the body! This breed needs a lot of skin maintenance, but it’s worth it. They are great family pets and will provide a lot of love and affection for everyone.
Weight: 4-5 lbs.
A cross between a Munchkin and a long-haired Persian cat, the Napoleon cat is just cuteness overload. They got their short legs from the Munchkin line and super fluffy coat from the Persian. Add a pair of huge eyes and a snub nose to that, and you’ve got the cutest little critter on the face of the Earth!
They also inherited the lovely Persian character and will be a great addition to families with kids and other pets.
Weight: 3-5 lbs.
A cross between the Munchkin and LaPerm cat. This combination produced a short, tiny, curly feline that is just a delight to be around. Also, the character matches the looks. Skookums are very sweet, intelligent, and loving. They need to be cuddled more than anything else.
Choosing a small cat breed doesn’t mean less cat-like behaviors to enjoy. What’s more, most of these cats stay kitten-like and playful throughout their lives, which means you’ll need to dedicate a lot of time to playing and training.
If you live in a small apartment, consider installing shelves and pipes on the walls. Vertical surfaces are very important to cats, and it can save your sanity. It also saves a lot of space while providing room for activity and playtime.
Another thing to consider when buying a purebred cat is the lineage. This is extremely important when it comes to dwarf breeds, because irresponsible breeding can cause a lot of problems.
Skeletal problems, spine deformities, and issues with cartilages are very serious conditions that often can’t be cured, and the problem is, most of these are impossible to notice while the cats are less than a year old. At least not by a layman.
Make sure to check and double check your breeder to know they are reputable. Then you can rest assured you’ll spend many lovely years with a healthy and happy cat.
We just can’t get enough of small cat breeds—they are just too cute! That’s why you might want to check out our article on world’s smallest cat breed next. Plus, do leave us a comment below and let us know how you find this article.