Top 10 rarest cat breeds

Did you know that of all the cats owned by people around the whole World, only about 4% are purebred pedigreed cats? The rest are just moggies! So, theoretically, any purebred cat is actually a rare cat breed. But, there are still rare between the rarest!

After extensive research, finding the same “rare cat breeds” on all websites, I decided to dig a little deeper, and I found completely new results of the actual rare cat breeds in present times!

As The International Cat Association (TICA) is the biggest cat registry, with 73 registered cat breeds, I thought it’s best to consult their reports for some genuine information. 

In THIS ARTICLE You will find the real 10 rarest cat breeds
To bring to you this top, I selected all the breeds with less than 30 individuals registered in TICA’s latest ‘Registrations by breed’ reports and I chose the 10 FULLY REGISTERED BREEDS with the lowest count.

No breeds in this top are in development or experimental stages!

Also, the numbers associated with each breed below show the registered number of cats in the TICA registry, NOT the actual number of these cats left in the whole World!

*** To find more about how I chose these rare cat breeds go to the end of the article.***

Considering these are the latest numbers prior to the Coronavirus outbreak, until further information emerges, here are the 10 rarest cat breeds currently in the World: 

1. Cymric 

The Cymric breed had a pretty drastic drop in numbers. From 872 cats registered in the 2016 report by TICA to 4 cats registered in the latest report from 2018.
The present numbers are unknown.
Cymric the most rare rare cat breed
© TICA – Cymric at a glance

As part of the Manx breed group, many cat fancier’s organizations consider the Cymric (pronounced ‘kum-ric’) just a Longhaired Manx cat, and they indeed differ just in coat length, their breed standard is identical in every other aspect.

The Manx cats originated in the Isle of Men and appeared from a mutation among the island’s domestic cat population that produced tailless cats. Due to the island’s small size, the dominant gene was easily passed from generation to generation. Cymric cats were always born in Manx litters as the long-haired versions of the Manx, but breeders always considered them ‘mutants’. Similar long-haired kittens were born in Canada’s Manx breeding programs and were then bred intentionally, which increased the Cymric breed’s popularity, but it took them many years to be recognized as a separate breed from the Manx and although Cymric cats are one of the oldest known cat breeds they were not recognized until the mid-1970s.

Cymric cats are medium to large in size with muscular bodies and come in many colors and patterns with or without white. They have large, rounded-full eyes and longer hind legs. They are born tailless, also known as “rumpie” and that is the standard most wanted in Cymric cats, but they can also have a short tail made up of one to three vertebrae connected to the spine, a short tail stump of about ⅓ of a normal tail and they can also have a full tail. Usually, the fully tailed cats are used in breeding programs to avoid birth defects in kittens. 

Cymric cats are very affectionate, family-friendly, and get along with other pets. They are not very active but enjoy chasing toys and laser pointers and they are pretty vocal cats. 

Why are Cymric cats rare?

It’s highly possible that Cymric cats became so rare because of the same gene that gives them and the Manx cats their distinctive lack of tail. It appears that the gene is also lethal to them. Breeding two tailless Manx or Cymrics together results in congenital disabilities, also known as the Manx Syndrome. These defects include spinal deformities, gaps in the vertebrae, fused vertebrae, and bowel or bladder dysfunctions. Kittens who inherit two copies of the tailless gene die before birth and are reabsorbed in the womb, which makes born litters usually smaller. The Manx syndrome can appear up to the first 6 months of age and is as well present in cats with only one copy of the gene, so normally breeders will keep the kittens longer before selling them. 

Also, some cat fancier organizations like AFC and GCCF impose special breeding restrictions on Manx cats for well-being reasons.

2. Chausie 

The Chausie breed also suffered a big loss in numbers, counting only 5 cats registered with TICA in 2018, from a total of 744 cats registered in the previous report from 2016.
chausie rare cat breed
© Sacred Cats Cattery – visit their website at

The Chausie (pronounced ‘chow-see’) is a domestic breed of cat developed from a hybrid crossing of the wild jungle cat Felis chaus and the domestic ancestor of all modern cats Felis catus

Even though the Jungle cat is native to a vast area from Southeast Asia to the Middle East, they used to live by rivers and lakes and were found mostly in the Nile Delta. The first hybrids of jungle cats and domesticated cats date back to the time of the ancient Egyptians who are known for keeping domestic cats as pets. Jungle cats were found mummified along with domesticated cats in Egyptian temples. Some people say even the Goddess basted was depicted after the Jungle Cat (Felis chaus) with a long slender body, thin appearance, and large ears. 

Chausie cats are tall, long-legged, lean, svelte, and muscular cats, with a body adapted to running and jumping over obstacle-filled terrains like reedbeds and bodies of water.

They have large ears, normally tufted, long foreheads and muzzles with high cheekbones, and gold or yellow medium-sized oval eyes that are half flattened above and half rounded below. They come in colors black, brown ticked tabby, and black grizzled or ticked tabby.

Although bred to resemble their non-domestic ancestor, Felis chaus, a Chausie’s temperament is predominantly domestic. Chausies are curious and intelligent, good-natured, loyal, and trainable. They can play fetch and easily walk on a leash. As very active cats they require attention and stimulation to play, known to keep their playful behavior even as adults. They love to explore and are people-oriented, talkative cats that love to be in the middle of everything. They do good in families with young children who can keep them entertained, and are affectionate cats who form loving bonds with their families.

TICA is the only cat registry that acknowledged the Chausie as a domestic breed in 2013 because they are mostly descended from domestic cats and by the fourth generation they are completely domestic in temperament and fully fertile. They are also admitted in WCF as a preliminary breed on their way to championship status. In other registries, Chausie might be categorized as a non-domestic hybrid source breed as TICA originally admitted the breed in 1995. 

rare cat breed Chausie
© Sacred Cats Cattery

Why are Chausie cats rare?

Chausie cats are extremely rare, especially because hybrid pets are illegal to own unless they hold a special license, the cat is sterilized, vaccinated, registered with an approved registry, and microchipped. You should check the regulations for 4th generation Hybrids in your area before purchasing a Chausie cat. 

Also, another reason for their rarity is that on many occasions male Chausies are sterile. 

Before I move on to the next breed I have to mention that the amazing Chausie breed won this month’s “Breed of the Month” award by TICA! (May 2022) Congratulations to all Chausie owners around the World! 

American Wirehair 

It seems that the American Wirehair cat is a constant rare cat breed, registering 127 individuals in TICA’s 2016 registration report, and only 7 cats registered in the report from 2018, with an unknown number at present times. 

American Wirehair is also the rarest cat breed according to the Cat Fancier Association (CFA) coming last in 2018’s round-up of the new total of 45 registered breeds.

American wirehair rare cat breed

American Wirehair cats are a unique breed developed from a natural spontaneous mutation found in a litter of domestic shorthair kittens, born on a farm in Vernon, upstate New York. 

In the litter, one red and white male kitten was born with a wiry, springy coat and also crimped whiskers and ear hair. The owner of the Council Rock Farm, Nathan Mosher, contacted a local rex cat breeder, Joan O’Shea, to have a look at the kitten. She bought the kitten and began a breeding program. The kitten was named Council Rock Farm Adam of Hi-Fi, “Adam” for short, and was first bred with O’Shea’s neighbor’s female cat that came from the same farm, then with an unrelated female cat and both litters produced wire haired kittens.

When samples were sent to British geneticists for testing, the results showed the cats were not related to any of the existing rex cat breeds and were very similar in type and personality to American Shorthair cats, with the only difference being the unique crimped fur. 

rare cat breed American wirehair

American Wirehair cats are gentle, quiet, smart, and curious. They are loving cats, people-oriented, and adaptable to any household, even one with multiple kids and other pets, and they usually prefer to stay indoors. They are easily trained and can play fetch, displaying a balanced temperament somewhat amusing due to their active and playful side, but they are also good lap cats. 

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4. Korat

Korat cats reached a count of 13 cats registered with TICA in 2018, a number that dropped from 874 cats registered in 2016.
rare cat breed Korat
© KoratCatPaws – picture of our friend Akio, a Cat Show champion! See their profile on Instagram

Korat cats reached a count of 13 cats registered with TICA in 2018, a number that dropped from 874 cats registered in 2016.

Dating back to the 14th century, Korat is one of the oldest, and most stable cat breeds that originated in Phimai, Thailand, a township of the Nakhon Ratchasima Province, called the “Korat” Province by the Thai people, from where the breed took its name. 

Did you know?
Korat is one of the 23 breeds depicted in the Tamra Maew, an ancient collection of poems about native Thai cats (between 1350 and 1767), and is one of the 17 cats believed to bring good luck. Korat cats are the symbol of good fortune.

Korat cats have a specific silver-tipped blue coat that appears to shimmer, with heart-shaped faces and wide, almond-shaped piercing green eyes. They are affectionate, gentle, intelligent, curious, and have a very good memory. In a household with multiple cats, they follow a hierarchy system where the “alpha” cat will eat first followed by the rest, but they allow kittens to eat first. 

Why are Korat cats rare?

Korat rare cat breed
© KoratCatPaws- picture of Akio

Korat cats are one of the rarest cats in the world, as until recently they were not sold, but only given as gifts, in pairs, to newlywed couples, or to people of the upper hierarchy, who are highly esteemed. Due to tradition, limits on Korat cat breeding have been imposed by Thailand outside their country, and the cats were usually gifted only to members of the Thai government or to foreign government representatives.

Also, what makes it hard to find a purebred Korat is their registration requirements in the cat registries. Although they are fully recognized in all cat fancy organizations according to the World Cat Congress, FIFe is harsher on the rules and will not recognize any other color variety than blue in Korat cats. To be registered in the novice class for recognition, all Korat cats must be imported from Thailand with their origin proven by documentation and all Korats used in breeding programs must be DNA-tested for GM disease and they must not carry the disease. 

FIFe and TICA will give full registration only to Korats with three generations of blue-coated cats. 

5. Manx 

The Manx breed can be now classified as a rare cat breed according to TICA’s 2018 registration reports, where their number drastically dropped from 2011 registered cats in 2016 to 14 cats registered in the last available public report. 
Manx rare cat breed

Like their Cymric longhair counterparts, the Manx cats are the original tailless cats born on the  Isle of Men and are named after the native Manx population. It’s assumed that the initial cats of the island have migrated from England or Whales by ships, and in their litters, tailless cats were born. Due to inbreeding on the small island, the tailless characteristic became a common trait among the cats on the island and gave birth to the Manx cat breed. 

Manx cats are one of the first cat breeds to be acknowledged in the world, with the first artistical evidence coming from a painting in 1810. The breed is also surrounded by a great legend. It is believed the Manx became tailless when Noah cut off the cat’s tail when he closed the Ark door as the rain of the flood began.

It is said that Manx cats look like a bowling bowl because of their rounded look, the lack of tail, the compact body with short fur, and a round head with big rounded eyes. They come in a variety of colors and patterns.

The Manx cats are friendly and loving, and can’t be alone for long periods of time. They like to chat with their owners in sweet thrilling voices, they are very intelligent and will basically bond with anybody who gives them food. They are great family cats, even-tempered and calm. Although, sometimes they get the zoomies through the house, with sharp turns and quick stops.

Why are Manx cats rare?

rare cat breed manx

TICA fully recognized the breed and its longhaired version the Cymric, in 1979, but the cats are a rarity today due to the same gene that gave birth to the breed. The gene that causes the lack of tail in Manx and Cymric cats is also deadly to many kittens who possess two copies of the gene from both parents who die before birth. The gene also causes Manx Syndrome which can appear in cats up to 6 months old, described as birth defects like spinal deformities and bowel or bladder problems. And, because of the Manx Syndrome, cat fancier associations have strict rules for breeding the cats, to protect their well-being, which makes them harder to breed. 

6. Havana 

Havana cats counted 18 cats registered with TICA in 2018’s report, and the number dropped from 1099 cats that have been registered in 2016 with TICA.
rare cat breed Havana

Havana cats, formerly known as Havana Brown in TICA, are beautiful brown cats with intense green eyes developed in the early 1950s by Baroness Miranda Von Ullman, Mrs. Anne Hargreaves, and Mrs. E. Fisher, a group of English cat fanciers. They planned breedings between chocolate point and seal point Siamese cats, domestic shorthair black cats, and a dash of Russian Blue cats with the intention to create self-chocolate color cats. The British Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) recognized the new cat breed in 1958 with the name Chestnut Foreign Shorthair, which was then changed to Havana in 1970. 

The Havana breed appeared in the USA in the mid-1950s and was founded by Mrs. Elsie Quinn who contacted Baroness Von Ullman and imported the first Havana cats to North America. These cats became the foundation for the Havana Brown breed in North America. The breed was recognized by TICA in 1979 with the name of Havana Brown, and later in 1093 the organization accepted the lilac Havana for championship status and changed its name to Havana. 

There is a significant difference between the two registered breeds. In England, the Havana cats are more oriental in type, with straight profiles, broad flared ears, and narrowly triangular heads, whereas in TICA and other North American cat registries the standard of the Havana cats follows the original imports preserving the original look with a wide set of round-tipped upright ears, pricked slightly forward making the cats look alert, a corn cob looking muzzle with definite breaks between the whisker pad and angular profile shape, rather longer than wide.

The elegant, rich brown, short-haired Havana cats have vivid green eyes and are people-oriented, curious, playful, and demand lots of attention from their owners. They give plenty of affection in return for pets and are known to paw at their owners to get their attention when they are needy. They are ideal, intelligent companions that want to take part in everything you do. 

Why are Havana cats rare?

Havana rare cat breed

Since the 1990s breeders became concerned with the decrease in the gene pool diversity so eventually in 1998 after extensive research with several geneticists a proposed out-crossing program was approved by the Havana Brown Breed Council of FIFe. This program allowed the breeding of a registered standard Havana Brown with an unregistered domestic shorthair cat (black or blue only) or an Oriental Shorthair ( any color except pointed, cinnamon, or fawn) and later on in 1999 was permitted the breeding with Chocolate-point or Seal-point Siamese cats also. The offspring of these breedings known as an F1 generation are then bred with a Havana Brown cat and their litter produces kittens considered Havana Brown kittens if they meet the color standard of the breed. 

Even with the implemented out-crossing program, the numbers of the Havana and Havana Brown cats (as it’s recognized by FIFe) is a rare cat breed believed to have less than 1000 individuals left in the whole World. 

7. Ocicat 

The Ocicat breed also suffered a big loss in numbers, counting only 18 cats registered with TICA in 2018, from a total of 2,593 cats registered in the previous report from 2016.
rare cat breed Ocicat

The Ocicat is an exotic-looking domestic cat that resembles spotted wild cats like ocelots, margays, and leopards, the only difference is they are completely domestic with no trace of wild DNA in their genes.

The Ocicat was created by mistake in 1964, in Michigan, the United States by Virginia Daly in her attempt to develop a Siamese cat with points in the color of Abyssinian cats. She first bred a cinnamon Abysinnian male to a seal point Siamese female giving birth to a litter of kittens phenotypically Abyssinian. She kept a female from the litter and then bred her to a chocolate point Siamese male and finally the expected Siamese with Abyssinian points kittens were born. She repeated the process and this time a male ivory kitten with golden spots was born into the litter. The wild-looking spots on the cat made Daly’s daughter want to name the new cat Ocicat, but Daly was not looking for a new breed, and she neutered the kitten, named him Tonga, and gave it away to a loving pet home. 

Upon conversations with geneticist Dr. Clyde Keeler, Daly mentioned Tonga and picked his interest as he was looking to produce a cat similar to the extinct Egyptian Spotted Fishing Cat and suggested Tonga be bred back to his mother. But he was neutered. So Mrs. Daly repeated the breeding process and produced a tawny spotted male and named him Dalai Dotson to be used in new programs. The development of the breed took a setback until the 1980s as Daly was focused on caring for an elderly aunt. Other breeders took a liking to the new breed and developed new lines to which were introduced Domestic Shorthair cats too.

TICA granted full recognition to the Ocicat breed in 1986, and today most cat registries in the world fully recognize the beautiful spotted cats. 

Ocicat rare cat breed

Ocicats are turning heads wherever they are because of their wild looks and athletic build, and especially because they enjoy walking on the leash and have a dog-like behavior. They are outgoing and friendly with everyone, active and curious, and they can learn to play fetch and respond to commands. Ocicats love to play with toys possessively to the point where they would growl at you if you try to take them. They get along with other pets as long as they are as active as the Ocicat is. 

Ocicats come in four other patterns ticked, classic tabby, solid, and pointed, and they can have 12 colors: Chocolate, Chocolate Silver, Cinnamon, Cinnamon Silver, Black, Black Silver, Fawn, Fawn Silver, Lilac, Lilac Silver, Blue, Blue Silver, but they all have the same personality type regardless of the fur design. 

8. Snowshoe 

The Snowshoe breed registered a number of 20 cats in the 2018 ‘Registrations by breed’ report from TICA, their number reduced from 1,096 cats registered in the report from 2016. 
rare cat breed snowshoe
© Pacific Northwest Snowshoe Cats cattery – picture of Sapphirestar Xiao Meow (Mateo),
a Cat Show champion, and TICA registered cat! See their cattery group on Facebook.

Snowshoe cats originated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and were discovered by Dorothy Hinds Daugherty. The breed started with three kittens with white feet born into a Siamese litter that Dorothy took a liking to and she wished to establish a new breed. She bred the kittens to an American Shorthair with tuxedo markings and so she managed to develop the common “V’ facial markings for the Snowshoe cats.

Snowshoe cats are unique not only because they have a combination of short hair, modified wedge, and a semi-foreign build, but also parti-color points and a variety of unique patterns. They all must have white on all four paws. And come in all pointed colors (Solid Point/white, Tortie Point/white, Tabby point/white, Silver and/or Smoke Point/white). 

It is said that Snowshoe cats have a soft, melodic voice and they like to talk to their owners. They have outgoing personalities and are loyal and loving companions that thrive on interaction and affection. They are considered a mellow and social breed, loving to be around people and getting along with children and other pets. They don’t like being left alone for long periods of time. They are also smart and easily trainable, very active and energetic. Apparently, this breed likes interacting with water, particularly running water from a faucet. 

Why are Snowshoe cats rare?

snowshoe cat rare breed
© Pacific Northwest Snowshoe Cats cattery – picture of Sapphirestar Xiao Meow (Mateo)

The breed took a downfall after 1960 because the records of the breed have not been kept properly which discouraged breeders to have an interest in the breed due to the inconsistencies of the gene producing the white facial markings. In 1977 the breed registered only one breeder! By 1987 the number of breeders grew to thirty and TICA accepted Snowshow for championship status in 1994.

The Snowshoe cats are rare because producing a standard Snowshoe cat is difficult as the breed’s pattern relies on recessive genes (both individual’s copies of that gene must have that particular genotype to achieve the desired result or it will not be manifested) and there are other different factors that influence the outcome of the pattern which can not be predicted. Also, the genes that give Snowshoe cats their white boots are either a piebald gene or a gloving gene, genes that are difficult to control resulting in many cats with white markings either extending too far up the cat’s legs, not reaching up far enough on the leg, or lack white completely. Another hard standard to achieve for this breed is the body type which must maintain the American Shorthair structure, the length of the Siamese, and must have the correct shape of the head and ears.

9. Burmilla

Burmillas reached a number of 24 registered cats in TICA’s 2018 ‘Registrations by breed’ report and their number reduced from 175 cats registered in 2016. 

Burmilla Longhair took a hard fall also reducing its numbers from 84 registered cats in 2016 to only 2 cats registered in 2018. 

rare cat breed Burmilla

Burmilla is one of the new cat breeds, accepted for championship status in TICA in 2015 and 2014 in CFA, although it was recognized by GCCF in 2003 because the breed originated in the UK from an accidental mating. The breed was created totally by chance in 1981, in Baroness Miranda Von Kirchberg’s house, when a Lilac Burmese female cat escaped her room and mated with a Chincilla Persian male bought by the baroness as a present for her husband. Both cats were apparently waiting to be mated with a different partner of their own breed in different rooms. Their brief interaction gave birth to the first litter of Burmilla kittens.

Burmilla cats are very beautiful. According to their standard, they have a unique appearance with a short, silky-smooth coat, and a pure silver-white ground color with tipping or shading in black, brown, blue, chocolate, lilac, caramel, beige, and apricot. Their eyes are contoured with black giving them an eyeliner look accentuating their large and expressive green eyes. They have an overall elegant look, being medium-sized cats with sweet expressions. 

Burmillas tend to be mellow, outgoing, loving, and playful with a kitten-like behavior to match their cute faces. They are loyal and form strong bonds with their owners, but are not needy, making them a perfect companion and family pet. 

Why are Burmilla cats rare?

Burmilla rare cat breed

Burmilla cats are still very rare in the United States, just with a few breeders registered in the country. Producing pure Burmilla kittens is very time-consuming because it requires four generations of breeding between Burmese and Chinchilla cats to produce kittens that can be bred back with Burmese cats to achieve the standard of the breed. 

10. Nebelung

Nebelung cats come last on our list with 27 cats registered in TICA’s 2018’s Registrations by breed report, their number dropping down from 443 cats registered in the report from 2016. 
rare cat breed nebelung

The Nebelung is a relatively new and quite rare cat breed of longhaired blue cats, closely related to the short-haired Russian Blue cats, resembling blue-grey cats that had been imported from Russia in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Cora Cobb developed the breed from two cats born in two different litters from her cats. The names of the cats that founded the breed were Sigfried and Brunhilde. Siegfried was born the only blue longhaired kitten into a litter from a black domestic shorthair and a black longhaired cat resembling the Angora cats. Five months later, a female with the same features was born in another litter and Cora named her Brunhilde. Siegfried and Brunhilde had their first litter in 1986 and Cora wanted to establish a new breed so she sought the opinion of Solveig Pfleuger, a geneticist in the American Cat Association, and with his help, they wrote a breed standard for the Nebelung according to the Russian Blue cats but with long hair. Russian Blue breeders didn’t agree with the Nebelung standard and it got changed to describe a new breed, resembling the blue-gray cats imported from Russia in the early 1900s. TICA granted recognition for the Nebelung breed in 1997. 

Nebelung cats have a long, sturdy, and muscular appearance, with a long or medium silky coat in grey color tipped with silver. Their eyes are slightly oval and of vivid green color, sometimes yellow-green. They have long tails covered with hairs longer than the hairs found on the body, and females usually have a ruff around the neck. Nebelung cats, like other fluffy cats, have tufts of fur behind the ears and in between their toe beans. 

nebelung rare cat breed

Nebelungs are gentle cats with a shy and quiet nature, but they do love to play especially retrieving games, and jumping and climbing on high places so they can observe the world from above. They are loving and affectionate cats, they love to be with their families and are not so fond of strangers.

Although they have no breeding restrictions and are allowed to outcross with Russian Blue cats to preserve the breed, Nebelung cats are rare and hard to find, and it seems that their numbers are decreasing year by year. 

+ 5 more rare cat breeds for you!
As an addition to my top 10 rarest cat breeds, here are 5 other cat beads believed to be some of the rarest pedigreed cats in the world, according to other cat registries and ailurophiles on the web. 

The Sokoke Cat

The Sokoke cat was deemed the rarest breed of domestic cat in the world by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF).

sokoke cat rare cat breed

Sokoke is a naturally occurring cat breed from the feral khadzonzo landrace of the Sokoke-Arabuke rainforest in Kenya and despite their wild origins, Sokoke cats are affectionate and soft. They are family-oriented, talkative, and sociable. But their wild side appears in their energy levels, playfulness, and active behavior, Sokoke cats are said to enjoy climbing. 

Sokoke cats have long, medium-sized bodies and a dense, shorthaired, luscious coat that has little to no undercoat. The fur presents a unique blotched tabby pattern in shades of brown, a camouflage-looking fur with odd ring-like markings, said to be similar to those of the Bengal or Ocicats. 

Bred mostly in Denmark, with a small number of breeders in the UK and the United States, Sokoke remains at present an endangered and hard-to-find cat breed. 

Why are Sokoke cats rare?

Recognized as a full breed only by FIFe since 1994, according to their rules, probably what makes Sokoke cats so rare is that only Sokoke cats imported from the Sokoke district in Kenya are allowed to be registered for recognition, their origin must be officially proved by documentation. The breed earned a Registration Only status by TICA and Preliminary Recognition was granted by GCCF in 2015.

The Turkish Angora cat

Turkish angora rare cat breed

Turkish Angoras are unique and rare, and there are no other cats alike them. These cats are so old that it is believed that the gene for long-haired cats may come from Turkish Angora’s distant ancestors. The breed is considered ancient and is a naturally occurring breed of cat.

Originated from Ankara, Turkey, (formerly known as Angora hence their name), the earliest written reference to Turkish Angora cats occurs in 16th century France, with the breed well represented at the start of the cat fancy in Europe in the late 1800s. 

With the breed nearly extinct from the Persian breeding programs where it was used to improve the Persian coat in the early 1900s, Turkey declared Turkish Angora cats their national treasures and ensured their survival with a special breeding program at the Atatürk Forest Farm and Zoo, preserving the pure white Angora cats, and did not allow breeding outside the country until 1962 when it was brought to the United States by Colonel and Mrs. Walter Grant.

The Turkish Angoras have typically long, silky white coats, with blue, amber, or heterochromatic eyes, but they are accepted in many colors and patterns. Calm by nature, their purrsonality is sweet and cuddly, playful and curious, loyal, intelligent and family-friendly, traits that surely match their stunning regal look. They are also very fond of water. 

Today Turkish Angora is recognized in all major cat fancy associations and was one of the original cat breeds in many such organizations, including the founding of TICA in 1979. In 1978, CFA accepted all color variations of the Turkish Angora cats, not just the white color, but to be registered they must have a lineage that can be traced back to Turkey.

The LaPerm cat

LaPerm rare cat breed

The LaPerm is one of the four cat breeds with a naturally occurring mutation that produces curly hair in cats, originated in 1982, at Linda Koehl’s farm in The Dalles, Oregon. The mutation occurred in a litter born to a regular tabby cat named Speedy, who gave birth to six kittens in a barn. One of these kittens was born bald, with a tabby pattern that looked like a tattoo on the kitten’s skin. At around six weeks of age, the kitten developed a sparse, curly, shorthaired coat, and was then named Curly. Eventually, Curly developed a soft wavy coat with a brown tabby pattern, and from its litters more curly coat kittens emerged, which inspired Linda to open a breeding program and be the founder of the LaPerm cat breed.

LaPerm cats are genetically unique and not related to other “rex” cat breeds. Their mutation gives them coats with soft waves, curls, tight ringlets, or long corkscrew curls which them look like they had an 80s shaggy perm hairstyle done. They have various colors and patterns and come in both long and shorthaired cats. They have medium-sized athletic bodies with longish legs and necks. These cats are said to be hypoallergenic, which means they are causing significantly lower allergic responses in humans with cat allergies. Their fur is low-maintenance and requires little to no grooming and they don’t shed much. 

LaPerm cats are the only “curly-haired” cat breed with whiskers that are long and flexible. The other rex breeds ( Cornish, Devon, and Selkirk Rex) have very short, curved, or curled whiskers which are prone to breaking due to their gene mutations. 

LaPerm cats are active and playful, but also quiet, gentle, and very affectionate. They are known to be lap cats and love attention. They do good in households with other cats, dogs, and children and are a bit vocal too. 

Why are LaPerm cats rare?

Even though LaPerm cats have their origin in the United States, they appear in low numbers in North America. Probably the cause of their rarity is that cat fancier organizations don’t have clear rules about their breed standards. TICA for example allows any type of crossing into the LaPerm breed, mostly encouraging the breeding with non-pedigreed domestic short or long-haired cats. In contrast, GCCF brings strict rules for breeding LaPerm cats. They only accept LaPerms with a maximum of 3 pedigreed generations for registration and permit outcrossing to other breeds like Somali, Abyssinian, Ocicat, Asian Shorthair, Tiffanie, and Tonkinese, as well as unregistered domestic short and long-haired cats. GCCF does not allow any crossing with Cornish, Devon, or Selkirk Rex considering it’s in LaPerm’s breed’s best interest to keep entirely separate from the other Rex mutations, and under no circumstances should any cat with Sphynx ancestry be introduced into the LaPerm breed.

The Chartreux cat

Chartreux rare cat breed

Chartreux is believed to be an ancient cat breed that originated in Persia and found its way to France with knights returning from the crusades, who brought the cats to the Carthusian monasteries of France, from where the breed got its name, the cats then became an important part of the monks’ lives.

Chartreux cats are excellent hunters with fast reflexes and sweet personalities. They are very chatty, with quiet voices that appear to chirp and supposedly will choose a favorite person to bond with and follow around making them loyal and devoted pets. Chartreux are playful, intelligent, and love to climb, but are still somewhat reserved, and calm placid cats. 

The Chartreux has a unique, short-haired, thick, and plushy coat that is also water-repellent, and a beautiful blue fur with shades of grey from ash to slate. They have big, orange or copper-colored, round eyes that look like little pumpkins. Due to their coned muzzles and the structure of their face, they frequently appear to be smiling, and so are often referred to as “the smiling blue cat of France”.

Although considered the national cat of France, due to their monastic life and being bred firstly by monks, the Chartreux breed like many other cat breeds, was nearly extinct after WW2, saved and preserved by breeders with the help of blue British Shorthairs and Persians. At present days it’s still hard to find these cats outside their home country.

The Norwegian Forest cat

Norwegian Forest cat rare cat breed usa

The Norwegian Forest Cat, as the name implies is a cat native to Norway, known to the locals as “skogkatt” which literally means “forest cat” in their language, a cat breed found in the Viking legends and mythology. They supposedly lived and traveled with the Vikings, keeping their ships and villages free of pests.

Similar to a Maine Coon, The Norwegian Forest Cat is an imposing, large cat, with an average weight of 17lb. Their coat is very dense, with semi-long hair that is waterproof and super fluffy, so it can protect them from the harsh Northern weather, and they have long bushy tails. Their ears are big and well-tufted and they have Lynx tips. They come in all kinds of colors and even all combinations with white are allowed by the breed’s standards, presenting tabby patterns, or no pattern at all. 

Norwegian Forest Cats are intelligent, social and people-oriented, disciplined, affectionate, and loyal. They love being in the center of attention, they are sweet, loving, and friendly towards other pets. They are also very playful and fond of climbing and jumping so a scratch post is mandatory for these cats. Kittens are slow to mature and can take up to five years to reach maturity, so they will need lots of toys too. 

Norwegian Forest cats have become rare even in Norway by the 20th century, being on the brink of extinction. In 1930 plans were started to ensure the longevity of the breed, and in 1938 the first devoted organization to the breed emerged in Oslo, called the Norwegian Forest Cat Club. WW2 interrupted the club’s progress, but the breed saw a comeback by developing an official breeding program after WW2. In the 1950s, King Olaf V designated the Norwegian Forest Cat as the official cat of Norway, but they were still not registered as a breed in any cat registry, until the 1970s when a Norwegian cat fancier named Carl-Fredrik Nordane made efforts to register it. FIFe recognized the breed in 1977. The first pair of breeding Norwegian Forest cats reached the United States in 1979 and TICA was the first to grant them full recognition in North America in 1984. 

Today, the Norwegian Forest breed is very popular in Norway, Sweden, and also France, but these cats are quite rare in the United States being bred mainly in Europe. 

How have I selected the 10 rarest cat breeds?

My “Top 10 rarest cat breeds” is established on TICA’s 2019 Annual Meeting, where, on page 98, I discovered a big part of their ‘Registrations by breed’ report from the year 2018. You might think why did I use a report from four years ago? Well, because they haven’t posted a newer public report since then in any of their board meetings! Believe me, I checked.

According to this report, I concluded the 10 rarest cat breeds, based on the pedigrees with the lowest numbers. I compared these findings with the registration numbers from the previous report, in TICA’s 2016 Spring Meeting (pages 86-87), to see how severely their count has dropped, and then I summed each breed up for you to get acquainted. 

Keep in mind these are the numbers of registered cats by breed, NOT the number of cats from that breed left in the World!

It’s highly possible that due to Coronavirus restrictions, many pedigreed cats haven’t even been registered in cat registries, and the demand for them was probably significantly reduced as purebred cats are expensive not only to purchase but also to care for. 

This top contains ONLY fully registered cat breeds! There are no new experimental cat breeds or breeds still in development stages that have a “Preliminary New Breed”, “Registration Only” or “Advanced New Breed” status. The breeds that I excluded for not having a full registration, but have actual low numbers in the report are Aphrodite + Aphrodite Shorthair (6 cats registered), Minskin (5 cats registered), Tiffany (6 cats registered in the 2016 report), and Serengeti ( 8 registered cats). 

Important tips for getting a purebred cat

getting pure breed kittens

If you are looking to buy a rare cat breed or any other purebred cat for the matter, it’s important to be aware of the seller, don’t just trust any website online. 

Seek to buy kittens only from registered catteries in a cat registry like TICA or FIFe, but even the cat fancier association can not vouch for a cattery. 

Here are a few things to watch out for when buying a cat!
There are a very high number of pet sale scams on the internet, so make sure your source is to be trusted.

Normally these fake companies or individuals are sketchy at revealing their name or address and just give out a website, and they do not like to communicate in person or by phone, only by email.

They will request large payment upfront or even the whole sum for a kitten, making it somehow seem urgent and they need the money to care for the kittens, then they disappear with the money.

Make sure you will choose a secure payment method so maybe you can get your money back. 
And a few things that a responsible cattery will do:
On the other hand, a responsible breeder will take the time to talk to you, and share information about the breed.

They will interview you as the prospective purchaser to determine the kind of home they will give out the kitten to and if the kitten will be safe and taken care of.

They will not sell kittens under 12 to 14 weeks of age and the kittens will be vaccinated and the breeder should provide you with a health guarantee in writing.

We hope you enjoyed our article and if so please let us know in the comments below.

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  1. Love this so meowch, very interesting and important informations 😻

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