If cats were humans the most attractive breeds would be the Russian Blue and Norwegian Forest Cat

Russian Blue
Russian Blue. Photo: Twitter.
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Norwegian forest cat
Norwegian Forest Cat – Photo by quatre mains

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and for a long time the Persian was considered the most popular. The popularity was mainly due to the appearance which is extreme. But you can turn that statistic on its head if you use a method called the Golden Ratio which is a mathematical equation based on the human’s preference for a symmetrical face in other humans. When using this formula, the Persian hits the bottom while the top 4 most beautiful cat breeds are, in descending order:

  1. Russian Blue – Golden Ration = 1.65 (the ideal is 1.62)
  2. Norwegian Forest Cat – Golden Ration = 1.65
  3. Manx – Golden Ration = 1.59
  4. RagaMuffin – Golden Ration = 1.67
Super Russian Blue cat. Picture in public domain on Twitter.
Super Russian Blue cat. This could be called a ‘Maltese’ or a ‘blue Maltese’ if you wanted to use an archaic name. Picture in public domain on Twitter.

The least attractive bottom three in this list, using this formula, would be the:

  1. Persian – Golden Ration = 7.49
  2. Peterbald – Golden Ration = 19.78
  3. Himalayan (pointed Persian) – Golden Ration = 56.49
Picture of a concave-faced Persian cat
Picture of a concave-faced Persian cat. Concave: having an outline or surface that curves inwards like the interior of a circle or sphere. Image: PoC based on images in the public domain.

My immediate impression is that the Golden Rule exposes the lack of attractiveness of the Persian with extreme facial features. It is the extreme breeding which has made this cat less attractive. There is another type of Persian: the traditional, also known as the ‘doll face Persian’ or ‘doll faced Persian’. This breed was no doubt not in the assessment under this attractiveness equation which is why it’s not listed. If it was listed it would score highly because the traditional Persian has a very regular, normal domestic cat face. And, after all, its name speaks volumes about its beauty.

RagaMuffin. Photo: in public domain.

So what exactly is the Golden Rule? It, as mentioned, was devised for measuring attractiveness in people by people. My understanding is that the two major measurements of the human face used to calculate attractiveness through symmetry are the length and width. The ideal ratio between length and width is 1.62. In other words, if you divide the width into the length you arrive 1.6. To put it yet another way, the length of an attractive face is about 1.5 times the width.

There are other measurements to bring into the equation!:

  • Length of face
  • Top of head to pupils of eyes
  • Pupils to nose tip
  • Pupils to mouth
  • Width of nose
  • Distance between outer corners of eyes
  • Width of face
  • Bottom of ears to pupils
  • Nose tip to chin
  • Mouth to chin
  • Length of mouth
  • Nose tip to mouth

There are weaknesses in this method of measuring attractiveness: is it true that you can use the same formula for cats and people? And you can see that the measurements are only applied to the face. There are other elements of a cat’s anatomy which add to their attractiveness such as: size, the length of their fur, their tail e.g. whether it is plumed or very short and so on. So this must be a limited study which has been probably carried out more in jest than in all seriousness. For example, the Manx is not considered one of the most attractive breeds. The lack of a tail does not help as tails can be very attractive.

The people (All About Cats) who conducted the study used the images of 46 of the best known cat breeds. They measured their facial features. There are actually over a hundred cat breeds but around 46 mainstream breeds. They may have selected the CFA (Cat Fanciers’ Association) breeds and the CFA does not list the traditional Persian as a recognised breed.

I would hope that the result gently nudges the administrators of the CFA into reappraising the breed standard for the flat-based, contemporary Persian with the extra long fur. A reassessment is long overdue. This cat hass gradually lost its appeal over a decade or more. It used to be the most highly registered purebred cat but I don’t think it is today.

The top 11 breeds in terms of attractiveness in descending order under this method are:

  1. Russian blue
  2. Norwegian Forest Cat
  3. Manx
  4. RagaMuffin
  5. Siberian
  6. American Curl
  7. Selkirk Rex
  8. Siamese
  9. Maine Coon
  10. Egyptian Mau
  11. Turkish Angora


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2 thoughts on “If cats were humans the most attractive breeds would be the Russian Blue and Norwegian Forest Cat”

  1. I think these standards are quite artificial and arbitrary. How can Maine Coon Cats rate so far below Norwegian Forest Cats when they look nearly identical? Almost all cats are beautiful, except where humans have deliberately intervened to produce some repellent effect such a the pushed-in unnatural faces of Persians (I prefer Angoras-which have normal cat faces) or the hairless Sphinx. I think, in general, human cat breeders have a detimental, not a beneficial on cats, their natural adaptions, and their health.

    1. Agreed. It is a study that does not work but it made the news media websites. You can’t measure the attractiveness of cats based on an algorithm for humans. Even for humans it is dubious I’d argue.

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