There are over 70 cat breeds recognized among cat aficionados today, and while you may be familiar with some of the more popular like the Siamese and the Persian, there are a large number of domestic breeds that most people have never seen. These rare cat breeds are truly special, and as the proud owner of one you’ll have to get used to hearing the question, “what kind of cat is that?” If you like the idea of a pet who is anything but ordinary, consider one of these unusual suspects.
The unique American Curl has a recent history and was publicly recognized as a breed only in 1983. These cats are still rarely found today, but the lucky owners who acquire one will be delighted with the loving, adaptable, and curious nature of the breed. The distinctive feature of these cats is their elfish curled ears.
The smoky-blue Chartreux traces their origins to France, where they are thought to have arrived via Carthusian monks. These cats have bulky bodies and a unique muzzle that gives the impression of a permanent smile. The Chartreux makes a great pet if you can find one -- they are highly intelligent, quiet, and well-behaved.
The incredibly soft Cornish Rex originated in England in the 1950s, and today is relatively rare but highly desired. The most distinctive feature of the Cornish Rex is their curly coat that feels something like velvet, and sheds less than many other breeds. These are active, people-oriented cats who love to play, and retain a kitten-like spirit into adulthood.
The striking silver-blue Korat was discovered in Thailand, where they were known as a “good luck” cat. Today, these cats are rather rare, but those who do own a Korat will tell you that they are strong-willed and do not like to be ignored. Korats are known for living long lives -- the oldest Korat in the U.S. lived to be 24 years old.
The LaPerm is an exceptional breed that originated as a result of a spontaneous mutation during breeding. These cats have a distinctive curled coat that can have tight ringlets or loose corkscrew curls. The LaPerm is not only beautiful to look at, these cats are also extremely affectionate and make ideal lap companions.
Ocicats are rare and exotic beauties. These spotted cats were selectively bred to emulate cats of the wild, and their appearance calls to mind larger felines like the ocelot, the margay, and the leopard. Despite their wild appearance, the temperament of the Ocicat is anything but -- these cats have devoted, dog-like personalities.
The Turkish Van was brought to the U.S. from Turkey in 1982. Today, these cats are still recognized as regional treasures, and are not readily available. The owners who do get their hands on a Turkish Van will find themselves with a playful and energetic cat who loves to swim! Yes, you read that right -- a swimming cat. The coat of the Turkish Van has a unique cashmere-like texture and is resistant to water.
Other rare cat breeds include the American Wirehair, the Devon Rex, the German Rex, the Japanese Bobtail, the Selkirk Rex, and the Singapura.
More on Cat Breeds
Where Do Different Cat Breeds Come From? - Infographic
The History of Cats
Hypoallergenic Cats for People with Allergies