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.
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.
Above Photo of Elf Cat: copyright
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.
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.
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)
Australian Mist (this cat is more mainstream I believe).
Australian Tiffanie (more mainstream than fringe)
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)
Cheetoh (Bengal x Ocicat)
Cheub (Selkirk Rex with Persian faces)
Chinese White (Angora like cat)
Desert Lynx (Manx x Bobcat)
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)
Kucing Malaysia (like Tonkinese)
Mandalay (NZ Aby/Burmese cross)
Marbled Mist (Aussie Mist marbled coat)
Mokave Jag Cat (see below)
Nile Valley Egyptian Cat
Russian Black (black Russian Blue)
Sterling (Chinchilla longhair)
Templecat (Birman shorthaired)
Twisty Cat (mutation)
Van Kedi (A Turkish “Van” cat)
Here are some more relatively rare cat breeds – the photos are by Helmi Flick and copyrighted:
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:
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.
Date for compilation of figures: March 2008 but the fringe breeds referred to above were updated 27th July 2010.
|0.25 (one quarter of one point)||= most common|
|The rare cats are highlighted and linked to more information and pictures.|
|Cat breed||Rarity rank||Popularity|
As per this website’s
poll – as at 2008
breeders – limited to the CatChannel Website
|Ashera (not a breed)||6|
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 Coon, Persian 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:-
The breeds highlighted are the rarest.
The contents of this page other than the photographs are copyright Michael at Pictures-of-cats.org.
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