The world of cats is a massive and diverse one, with unique breeds found in many countries around the world.
While you may have heard of traditional feline breeds like the sphynx, Scottish fold, and the Maine Coon, these rare and unique cat breeds possess character and appearances all their own.
These cats also have wildly different needs, from a constant need for interaction to almost no need for it at all.
They also have some fascinating background stories to them – some of these breeds have even been around since ancient times.
The following is just a handful of some of the rarest breeds in the cat kingdom.
The Devon Rex is a charming troublemaker that loves people food
Found in England, the Devon Rex is known for its loyalty, loving nature, and playfulness.
With a reputation as a troublemaker, the Devon Rex is a perfect match for small children.
According to the Cat Fanciers’ Association, they also do very well with other animals, including other cats, ferrets, dogs, and rabbits.
The Devon Rex is also a bit of a foodie, with a taste for all sorts of people food – if it gets its paws on any.
Watch your plate closely at dinnertime, as they’re known to try to swipe everything from asparagus to burgers!
Their impish and playful personalities are how they earned the nickname of “The Pixie Cat.”
The Chartreux is a quiet breed that was nearly lost to war
If you prefer a quieter cat, consider adopting a Chartreux. This French breed is often quiet, but also very affectionate.
They’re also excellent with children and other pets, making them great family cats.
According to PetFinder, the Chartreux is also quite healthy but can develop medial patellar luxation.
The Chartreux is named after a monastery of the same name and is a breed said to have been developed by the monks who lived there.
While the breed was once seen throughout France, World War II resulted in their rarity today.
To keep the breed alive, they were bred with Persians, Russian Blues, and British Shorthairs.
The Kurilian Bobtail is a gentle giant originally from Russia
Originating from Russia’s Kuril Islands, Sakhalin Island, and the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Kurilian Bobtail is intelligent, gentle, and trainable.
Known for its pompom-like tail, the gentle giant can weigh anywhere between eight and 15 pounds.
According to The International Cat Association, it comes in both solid colors and patterns.
Additionally, the cats are prized for being great mousers. It is an independent and skilled hunter, with strong jumping ability.
The cats are said to have lived in their volcanic island home for over 200 years and made it to the Russian mainland by way of Russian scientists and soldiers who loved them so much they brought them home.
The Ragamuffin is a sweetheart of a cat that will trust anyone
Known as the “teddy bear” of the cat world, the Ragamuffin is an exceptionally sweet cat that is often easy to care for.
Calm and patient, they are fantastic with kids and other pets; they can even be taught tricks.
According to the Cat Fanciers’ Association, they can even play fetch and wear a leash or harness, much like a dog.
Another reason why the Ragamuffin is great for families is that they are usually pretty low maintenance.
Their coat is similar to that of a rabbit, so it doesn’t need to be brushed very often.
Additionally, they are often very trusting cats; in fact, it is recommended that they are kept indoors for this reason.
The Birman is considered sacred in its home country of Myanmar
Known as the “Sacred Cat of Burma,” the Birman is a breed shrouded in mystery. Like the Siamese, the Birman is a color point cat with colorings that include red, tortie, cream, seal, and lilac.
According to the Cat Fanciers’ Association, the breed is typically quiet and gentle, making it a great fit for families.
Birmans love doing whatever you’re doing and will hang out as you do chores, surf the internet, play outside, or watch television and is usually found wherever you are.
Because they have no undercoat, Birmans don’t usually need much grooming. Their fur also won’t mat over time as most cats’ coats will.
Small and agile, the Singapura is a vocal and sociable breed
The Singapura is a compact breed known for its sociable nature. As the name may suggest, the Singapura breed comes from Singapore.
As the Animal Planet television show Cats 101 highlights, the breed can live up to 15 years and don’t typically have many health problems.
The Singapura usually welcomes visitors and children with open arms, though some may hide from those they don’t recognize.
They do shed quite a bit, so keep this in mind if you have allergies. They’re also pretty vocal and will not hesitate to tell you what’s on their mind!
The Korat is one of Thailand’s many famous “good luck” cat breeds
Named after a province of the same name in Thailand, the Korat is one of the 17 “good luck” cats of Thailand. They are gentle and loving, while also being quite athletic and muscular.
According to the Cat Fanciers’ Association, the Korat of today closely resembles its original look when it was discovered in the 1300s.
The Korat comes in one color only, but it’s definitely a stunning one. Their silver muzzles and toes are quite striking; combined with this coloration, their fur often gives off a “shimmering” effect in the light.
They also have a unique physicality, with five heart shapes found in their overall structure.
The LaPerm gets its name from its fancy, naturally curly coat
Originating in the United States, the LaPerm can live to be over 20 years old.
According to LaPerm Fanciers International, these cats have a poodle-like coat, so they don’t require much maintenance. They are also people cats that are very good with children.
Interestingly, some LaPerms’ whiskers are also curly. The cats are usually born with curly hair, shed it, then regrow it again in a few months’ time.
Some kittens are even born bald and develop their signature coat a bit later in life.
The LaPerm’s coat is a natural mutation and did not originate from another breed of cat.
The Bombay is a luxurious-looking breed that just loves to play
Looking like a miniature panther, the Bombay is an American hybrid of the Burmese and the American Shorthair.
On average, the Bombay lives to be between 15 and 20 years old but can live longer than this.
According to The Cat Fanciers’ Association, the breed also known for being outgoing and quite playful.
With its shiny black coat and its gold or copper eyes, this breed is quite captivating in person.
Despite its luxurious appearance, Bombay has a very rough-and-tumble personality that is often said to be a cross between a dog, a monkey, and a cat.
If you’re not available, they typically find ways to have their own fun around the house.
The Nebelung’s name means “creatures of the mist” in German
The Nebelung is another healthy breed with a lifespan averaging between 15 and 18 years.
According to PetMD, the breed is a quiet one that isn’t fond of crowds or strangers. That said, it is a very affectionate cat that is also remarkably playful.
A crossbreed between a domestic shorthair and a Russian Blue, the Nebelung features a striking, long coat with silver accents.
Their eyes are often in varying shades of green, with yellow eyes being another common color.
Some Nebelungs have patches of white on their bodies, especially on the chest and chin.
The Burmilla is an accidental crossbreed once owned only by royalty
The Burmilla is actually the result of an accidental cross-breed of a Chinchilla and a Burmese cat, according to PetMD. The result is a beautiful, loyal cat with a soft, dense silver coat.
The breed was originally owned by royalty, with the first four Burmilla kittens being named Galatea, Gemma, Gabriella, and Gisella.
The Burmilla is a bit wary of strangers but will warm up to them if they see them often enough. Give them a bit of time to get used to someone new.
Burmillas are often a bit prone to disease; be on the lookout for kidney conditions, particularly polycystic kidney disease. If left untreated, the disease can lead to renal failure.
The Tonkinese has a small size and a massive personality and charm
The rambunctious Tonkinese is a breed with unclear origins. Said to be from the United States, Canada, and Thailand, the Tonkinese is colored similarly to a Siamese.
From kittenhood all the way up to adulthood, Tonkinese cats are very loving and inquisitive, according to the Tonkinese Breed Association.
A Tonkinese is not a cat that does anything halfway; their motto seems to be “go big or go home.”
They have a tendency to get into everything, so be prepared to find them in places you may not want – or expect – them to be in. that said, they do get along with children and other animals quite well, including other cats.
The Egyptian Mau has a past as storied as their mysterious homeland
The Egyptian Mau is a spotted beauty that has been around since ancient times.
According to PetFinder, they were often used as “hunting cats,” in that they fetched downed prey for their owners.
They are also exceptionally loyal to their families but may be wary of strangers.
These are the same cats that are depicted in hieroglyphs and found mummified in ancient tombs.
In fact, the earliest known record of this breed dates back to 1580 B.C. When the breed nearly went extinct in the 1940s, the Russian princess Nathalie Troubetskoy rescued some of the few remaining Maus and bred them to keep the bloodline going.
This massive breed is one cat that is not to be underestimated
The American-born Savannah is among the largest domesticated cats in the world.
It gets its great size from the fact the breed is crossed with a serval, a small wild cat found in Africa.
According to the International Cat Association, this cat is also surprisingly fond of water and can walk with a harness.
The Savannah craves interaction, so it may be a good idea to adopt it along with a companion cat if you feel you may not be able to give it the attention it needs.
They form very strong bonds with their adoptive families, often greeting family members at the door when they come home.
Forever a kitten, the Selkirk Rex loves people and their attention
The Selkirk Rex keeps its kitten-like personality throughout its entire life. According to PetFinder, this American feline has a curly coat at birth, loses it, and then regains it again in the months that follow.
How curly its coat becomes depends on a number of factors, including genetics, environment, and hormones.
The Selkirk Rex doesn’t do well in isolation, to ensure it always has a playmate to keep it company.
They tend to pester their humans for attention, so be prepared to devote a lot of time to them. They are quite mellow, despite this; they just adore being loved on.
Which one of these cat breeds is right for me and my family?
Consider your lifestyle: do you live alone? Do you have other animals or kids? Also, consider what kind of home you live in.
Is there space for your feline friend to explore? Not all cats laze about all day.
Also, consider the price range of each cat; LaPerms are usually between $200 and $500 per kitten, while the Savannah can be between $1,000 and $20,000!
Also, can you care for such a cat? Consider vet care, food, and other such expenses.