Rare Cat Breeds

Sokoke cat  - rare breed
Sokoke cat – rare breed. Photo: Helmi Flick.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats


This section goes over the issues in trying to find the rare breeds.

Fringe cat breeds
This section lists some very little known cat breeds, some current and some variants. Lesser known cat breeds or emerging cat breeds are bound to be the rarest,

Criteria for selecting rare cats from mainstream breeds
I have devised a new, common sense criteria based on information freely available.

List of rare cat breeds
This is a list of the more established domestic cat breeds with the rare ones picked out.

This section sets out some conclusions and thoughts on the results.

List of sources for this article

This page contains guidelines on rarity, popularity and numbers of breeders.

The world’s rarest cat wild or domestic is probably the Borneo Bay Cat


Date of post: early 2008. Remember things are always changing but this page remains accurate 4 years later in 2013. The criteria for deciding which are the rare cat breeds is easy, on the face of it. They will be the cat breeds with the least number of cats. However, it is not as easy as that but it is possible to discover the rare cat breeds with a satisfactory level of usefulness using common sense methods.

At one time there was very little about rare cat breeds on the ‘net despite the fact that if something can be done it is done a lot on the internet. That was the case at 2008! Things have changed in 2013, probably because people followed the ideas presented on this page. There are now many more pages on the subject.

There needs to be an approach that has a degree of science in it. The first hurdle is to decide what a cat breed is. For the purpose of this exercise I am confining myself to domestic cat breeds. A cat breed is obviously a part of the classification of domestic cats. The point is, upon whom do we rely to make the classification? The associations have different ideas (see below) and some breeds are rare and have been classified by people (or a person) other than recognized bodies.

Elf cat

Above Photo of Elf Cat: copyright  Kristen Leedom – this cat is not recognized by the cat associations (at 2008) and has only recently been created. This cat is bound to be rare therefore

Some cat breeds have developed naturally, been “discovered” ( I really am not sure about this word) and then refined by humankind in the cat fancy. Others are simply created by the cat fancy. There are bound to be a number of “types of cat” that have very similar traits due to being isolated geographically (and are therefore arguably a cat breed) that have developed in areas of the world where this is no cat fancy. They are unrecognized. These are probably the rare breeds but there are no photographs and you can’t get to keep and care for these cats.

Then there is a mixed bag of extinct, or variant breeds, which are (or were) naturally rare. There are a number of cat breeds on the fringes in the West (US, UK and EEC) that are worth mentioning, however.

The cat associations (registries) tell us what they think the current cat breeds should be. The water is muddied by the fact that the approach to what is and what isn’t a cat breed differs from association to association.

In addition the biggest cat registry in the world, the Cat Fanciers Association, don’t agree to register one of the most popular cat breeds, the Bengal. There are other complications such as different standards by different associations. This muddies the water further.

We can’t rely exclusively on the cat associations (or at all) to find out which are the rare cat breeds.

What does Asian cat mean?
Singapura photo by Helmi Flick. Smallest cat breed. A rare breed.

Where does this leave us in deciding the rare cat breeds? I have decided to make two lists. The first contains a selection of the cat breeds that are rare but which are really on the fringes.

Why a selection? Because the list it too long and frankly rather pointless. Some of these breeds are due to breeders who seem to be seeking out the last remains of hybridization by mating cats breeds that haven’t been crossed before (I think we’ve reached saturation almost). You won’t get to see a photograph of one nor keep one unless you are lucky. Some breeds that I have not included are technically different breeds but only on account of a variation on an existing breed.

Here are some rare cat breeds – the photos are copyrighted to Helmi Flick.

Kinkalow Sokoke Serengeti

Here is the list (updated and checked on 27th July 2011):-

Selection of breeds on the fringes (there are lots more). See a list of fringe domestic cat breeds, with links to more on the breed. I have listed the more prominent ones below:

Abyssinian Bobtail (feral cat)
Aegean Cat (native to Greece – early development)
Albino Siamese (self explanatory)
Alpine Lynx (hybrid wildcat/domestic)
American Keuda (Egyptian Mau lookalike)
American Lynx (hybrid wildcat (Bobcat)/domestic)
American Miniature
Australian Mist (this cat is more mainstream I believe).
Australian Tiffanie (more mainstream than fringe)
Bahraini Dilmun
Bohemian Rex
Black Bengal
Britanica (long haired Brit. Shorthair)
Brooklyn Rex (NY curly haired cat)
Canella (Brit. SH x Persian)
Caracat (wildcat – caracal/domestic – Aby hybrid
Cashmere (longer haired Bengal)
Celtic SH
Cheetoh (Bengal x Ocicat)
Cheub (Selkirk Rex with Persian faces)
Chinese White (Angora like cat)
Cyprus Cat
Desert Lynx (Manx x Bobcat)
Dragon Li
European Shorthair
Euro Chausie (Wild/domestic hybrid – European wildcat x Chausie)
German Rex (more mainstream and listed below too)
Highlander (more mainstream)
Honeybear (related to IRCA Ragdolls)
Jambi & Habari
Jungala (NZ Ocicat)
Khao Manee
Kucing Malaysia (like Tonkinese)
Mandalay (NZ Aby/Burmese cross)
Marbled Mist (Aussie Mist marbled coat)
Mekong Bobtail
Mokave Jag Cat (see below)
Mokave Jag Cat
Nile Valley Egyptian Cat

Poodle Cat
Russian Black (black Russian Blue)
Russian White
Sterling (Chinchilla longhair)
Templecat (Birman shorthaired)
Tenessee Rex
Twisty Cat (mutation)
Ural Rex
Van Kedi (A Turkish “Van” cat)

{go to top of page}

Here are some more relatively rare cat breeds – the photos are by Helmi Flick and copyrighted:

Kurilian bobtail American Wirehair Cymric

The second is a list of the cat breeds that are the rarest of those breeds that are either recognized by the associations or are pending acceptance (this is not a totally comprehensive list but a very good one nonetheless). This is the sort of list that I think people are searching for as these cats can be adopted as they are available. The question is, what criteria should be used to decide the rare cat breeds in this group? I’ve come up with a unusual answer and used a combination of commonsense tests to decide. The method is very much less academic than might be expected but I believe sound. Anyone of these criteria would be inaccurate on their own but together a reliable picture of rarity is built up. These are the criteria/tests:

  1. Any information available on the Internet is used. This is usually incomplete information, hence the need for further criteria and tests. In other words does the Internet give us any clues as to the rare cat breeds?
  2. The lack of popularity of a cat breed is a reflection of its rarity. A very rare breed cannot be popular because of its rarity and an unpopular breed will be rare because breeders have no motivation to breed the cat. I have used this website’s current popularity poll as a reasonable guide.
  3. YouTube is a great unused resource in certain respects. There are many millions of videos of cats. They accurately reflect what is happening “on the ground”. I have used the YouTube search facility to discover how many videos there are of each breed of cat. The rare cat breeds will be reflected in the lower number of videos. {Note: this has proved to be very reliable and an accurate reflection}
  4. In essence, cat breeding is in a commercial market. It follows the market. Where there is demand
    for a cat there will be more cat breeders. A search on the Internet for cat breeders of a certain breed is a guide as to whether the cat is one of the rare cat breeds. The smaller the number of breeders the rarer the cat. Breeders use the Internet a lot so this is a sound method. They use the Internet a lot as cat breeding is now an international market, at least at the top end. I chose to do this research by selecting a directory site with a lot of hits, The Cat Channel. A lot of breeders are listed on this site so the sample was large.
  5. I know a bit about pictures of cats! Where there are many pictures there are many cats and vice-versa. I  have used this indicator as another tool to find the rare cat breeds. I have qualified this search. When there are a number of pictures that are the same but on different sites a reduction in the number is made. I have ranked the outcome of using these criteria with a bar chart. The longer the bar the more breeders, photographs or popular the cat.

Note: I found that the criteria I used matched nicely, one following the other and reinforcing the other with little surprises, thus reassuring me that the methodology is sound.

Finally, it is hardly worth saying but we have to decide in which country we are researching the rare cat breeds. I have chosen the obvious answer (no choice really) which is the USA as it is the biggest domestic pet market. If a cat is rare there it is more likely to be rare elsewhere. Although some breeds such as Russian cats (Peterbald, Kurilian Bobtail and Donsky) will be less rare in Russia and more rare in the US, of course.

So, to work. Set out below is a table of all the mainstream cat breeds in alphabetical order with their rarity ranked and based on the above criteria.

Rare cat breeds chart

Date for compilation of figures: March 2008 but the fringe breeds referred to above were updated 27th July 2010.

Rarity rank
0.25 (one quarter of one point)= most common
10= rarest
The rare cats are highlighted and linked to more information and pictures.



Cat breedRarity rankPopularity
As per this website’s
poll – as at 2008
Number of
Number of
Number of
breeders – limited to the CatChannel Website
Ashera (not a breed)617
American Bobtail516
American Curl561
American Ringtail91
American Shorthair1211
American Wirehair80
Brit. Shorthair1617
Calif. Spangled90
Cornish Rex4266
Devon Rex4290
Don Sphynx620
Egyptian Mau376
Elf cat10N/A2N/A10
Exotic Shorthair2165
German Rex10N/A300
Havana Brown79
Jap. Bobtail627
Kurilian Bobtail912
Maine Coon0.51,180
Norwegian Forest1275
Ojos Azules101
Oriental Shorthair578
Russian Blue4569
Scottish Fold3376
Selkirk Rex335
Turkish Angora676
Turkish Van683

1. Where the name of the cat breed (or cat group) is a term that could refer to something other than a cat breed to a degree where the search
for the number of YouTube videos becomes misleading this is stated as N/A (not applicable).

2. The Elf cat a brand new breed was listed on this site too late to be included in the popularity poll.

3. These breeds are not included in this site’s popularity poll. No reason other than timing and there are a number of breeds that are on the fringes.


I think it is impossible to work out what the rarest cat breed is. There are many very little known breeds where there are only a few cats in existence. One brand new breed (at Oct 2010) is the Nile Valley Egyptian. There cannot be more than a handful of these cats at this early stage. We can, though, get a good feel or idea about the rare cat breeds.

One thing that immediately comes out of this survey is that the super-exotic cats that should be rare cat breeds are becoming less rare; I am thinking of cats such as the Savannah (wild/domestic hybrid) and Toyger (domestic hybrid and careful breeding) for example. This is because of their continued and increasing popularity.

The flip side is that the dwarf cats are the rare cat breeds because of the controversy surrounding them. I expect this group of cat breeds to remain rare for that reason. The exception is the founding dwarf cat, the Munchkin, which has become more widely accepted in part because this is the most attractive and established of the dwarf cats.

As I have stated there is a remarkable correlation between the criteria utilized. For example, the availability of photographs of the cat breeds and the cat breeders. This is to be expected of course. One set of data supports the other.

A natural consequence of looking for the rare cat breeds is to find the most common. In this exercise it became apparent that the Bengal cat is the most common cat together with the Maine CoonPersian and Siamese. These also the most popular – one supports the other.

The Bengal was an exotic cat, but no longer due to the breed’s popularity. It has joined the ranks it seems to me.

The cats analysed as rare cat breeds from the mainstream cats, under this scheme were:-

California Spangled
Elf Cat
German Rex
Kurilian Bobtail
Ojos Azules

The breeds highlighted are the rarest.

The contents of this page other than the photographs are copyright Michael at Pictures-of-cats.org.


  • Messybeast (for the fringe breeds)
  • Pictures of cat.org (for popularity of breeds)
  • YouTube search (number of videos of breeds)
  • Google web search (rare breed search)
  • Google image search
  • The Cat Channel (for the frequency of breeders)

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

20 thoughts on “Rare Cat Breeds”

  1. I have a Tennessee Rex a new breed in development with Tica. It features the new to cat fancy satin coat mutation. The satin coat is as it sounds shiny like silk or satin and soft like a cashmere sweater.

  2. so is that why most rare breeds of cats can be not cheap at all to purchase one? my first cat was a maine coon cat but i didn’t have to pay to much money for her because i adopted her from a humane society

    1. Rare cat breeds are actually normally no more expensive than the more common breeds. Some are rare because they are not popular so very few are bred by breeders. If they are not popular that forces the price down.

      I hope you are well Darlene. Nice to hear from you.

  3. We live in Dallas tx Behind us is a large creek and park and gold course we often see the outline of a cat that looks to be 25-30 lbs we have small dogs for comparison. It has the enlarge ears like a savanagh cat or singapore cat. Should we catch it or call animal control. It stared down a skunk last week

    1. Personally I wouldn’t call animal control because if the cat is doing no harm it may end up being killed. Large Savannah cats (F1-F2) are rare so probably not that. Could be a large tabby cat. He/she may be an outdoor cat roaming widely. Personally, I’d watch and wait. No harm done. I don’t see any danger. Large domestic cats and even small wild cats aren’t a danger to people. It is the opposite.

      I’d be carefully about catching it because someone might own the cat. Technically it could be theft to catch a cat and take it away.

      But of course each person has their own way of dealing with things. My style is to live and let live unless you have to take action.

      Thanks for asking.

      1. It has super large ears in the moonlight the silhouette is beautiful. We don’t feel threatened. But if its rare wanted to make sure its preserved safely. But I have never seen a cat as big or have those directional tall ears.

        1. Natasha, could you capture a picture?
          If this cat seems relatively harmless, PLEASE don’t call animal control. That would mean certain death.

  4. Hello, have you heard of two cats that have mated and given different breeds, that is a havana brown and a bombay black cat , gave birth to a ,……….. Persian, racoon, bombay, korat,and a munckin

    1. A raccoon is not a cat! Sometimes two breeds have produced a new breed. An example is the Burmilla. However, I am sorry but the cats you refer to are incorrect.

  5. Hello!
    I can help you get a kitten Dwelf. I am a breeder of Sphynx, but in February of this year, I brought a cat from America. (This is still the only cat in Russia). Now our girl is pregnant and we are expecting kittens born Dwelf.
    email me at Email newsletters gr******@ya****.ru

    1. When they are born, please come back and write an article about your Dwelf kittens, please. There is a form you can complete on the home page.

  6. I have a Scottish fold white Siamese Manx I cannot find a breed for that if anyone out there can help me I’d greatly appriciate it please I breed my full blood Siamese Manx to my full blood Scottish fold I will post pics on my face book on Jennifer berck in a couple days if anyone would be interested in viewing and if they could tell me if thease cities are worth anything thank you

  7. Hairless Cat Girl

    Hi Michael,

    Wow, I really appreciate the good scientific approach you’ve used and the thoroughness of your analysis. Nice that you researched so many good sources to gather data and your data analysis is impressive.

    Found some breeds on your list I’ve never heard of. That’s a good sign for a rarity page. I consider myself to be fairly well versed in domestic cat breeds. Always nice to discover “new” breeds.

    From your list, the Savannah and Serval are some interesting larger domestic cats. I’ve actually seen people bring those things into pet stores. The customers either get real nervous or very intrigued. Some end up asking if they can stand next to those cats to get their picture taken. Beautiful cats and they would be interesting to have around.

    Also on your list is a long haired cat that likes to swim. It’s an unusual thing to see. You might like to check it out.

    I hear you on the fad thing. A lot of breeders really are trying every possible combination to make a healthy buck. Problem is birth defects and kitten mortality rate. Some people were born cold I guess.

    Thanx for the study,

    =^-^= Hairless Cat Girl =^-^=

  8. I have a question about a cat that was on TV today. The Egyptian Koraku {?spelling} is apparently the only cat that can catch a flying bird in midair. They have lynx like ears with the sprig on hair pointing upward off the tips, and are orange-tan colored.

    I’d like more information on this breed. They apparently get large and have been somewhat interbred with common cats like Savannah cats{mostly to bring them down in size and temperment}.

    Any information would be appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Hi, the first cat to come to my mind is the medium sized wild cat species called a caracal. This cat is famously athletic and is known to catch birds in flight as they take off. They have the longest lynx tips to their ears of all the cats, wild or domestic. They are tan colored too. They are not domesticated normally. In days gone by, people did tame them to hunt for them. I have never heard of the name Egyptian Koraku. They do live in Egypt however and over large parts of Africa and the Middle East.

    2. have a question I have a blue around the face a little white on the face this the only kitten iv seen this color ackward plz email me bac don’t have no pics at this timr.

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