How Many Cat Breeds Exist In The World? A Guide To Feline Diversity

Introduction to Cat Breeds

A cat breed refers to cats that have been selectively bred over many generations to develop and pass down specific physical and behavioral traits [1]. Cat breeds can differ in things like coat length, coloration, personality, size, and conformation.

The history of deliberate cat breeding is a relatively recent development compared to the domestication of cats [2]. Cats were first domesticated in ancient Egypt over 4,000 years ago, but it wasn’t until the 19th century that cat registries and breed standards began to emerge. Some of the earliest documented cat breeding occurred in Britain, with breeds like the Persian arising in the late 1800s.

Today, there are over 70 recognized cat breeds around the world. Some of the most popular include the Persian, Maine Coon, Siamese, Ragdoll, and British Shorthair. Cat breeds continue to be developed, with new breeds like the Bengal and Sphynx gaining prominence in the late 20th century.

Most Popular Cat Breeds

Some of the most popular cat breeds kept as pets today include the Siamese, Persian, Maine Coon, Ragdoll, and Sphynx.

some popular cat breeds kept as pets are siamese and persian


The Siamese is one of the oldest and most popular cat breeds. Siamese cats are known for their distinctive color points, like brown or tan faces, paws and tails with white or cream colored bodies. They tend to be vocal, active, and demanding of attention. According to the Cat Fanciers’ Association, the Siamese is the 7th most popular pedigreed cat breed1.


The Persian is a long-haired breed known for its beautiful flowing coat and docile personality. Persians have a rounded head and short legs and tend to be calm, quiet cats that enjoy being pampered. Persians are consistently ranked as one of the most popular cat breeds, currently holding the 3rd spot according to the Cat Fanciers’ Association1.

Maine Coon

The Maine Coon is the largest domesticated cat breed. They have a distinctive physical appearance with a robust bone structure, rectangular body shape, and long, shaggy coats. Maine Coons are known for their intelligence and friendly, gentle personalities. The Maine Coon currently holds the 2nd spot for most popular pedigreed cat according to the Cat Fanciers’ Association1.


The Ragdoll is a large, laid-back breed known for going limp when picked up, much like a ragdoll. They have a medium-long silky coat and come in a variety of patterns and colors. Ragdolls are one of the newer cat breeds, developed in the 1960s. Their affectionate personalities have quickly boosted them to popularity as the 4th most popular pedigreed breed today1.


The Sphynx is an unusual hairless breed known for its wrinkled skin and muscular body. While hairless, they are not hypoallergenic as they still produce dander. Sphynx cats tend to be energetic, mischievous, and demand a lot of attention. Their futuristic alien-like appearance has helped make the Sphynx rise in popularity to become the 8th most popular pedigreed cat breed1.

Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds

For people who are allergic to cats but still want to enjoy their company, certain hypoallergenic cat breeds produce fewer allergens than others. While no cat is 100% non-allergenic, some breeds seem to bother allergy sufferers less thanks to lower levels of the Fel d 1 protein found in saliva, urine, and skin oils. Here are some of the most popular hypoallergenic cat breeds.

The Sphynx is a hairless cat breed that lacks the fur that causes most cat allergies. With large ears and lots of wrinkles, the Sphynx requires special care to stay warm and prevent skin irritation, but its minimal grooming needs make it ideal for allergy sufferers. According to PetMD, Sphynx cats produce “only trace amounts of the Fel d 1 protein.”

With a curled coat that sheds minimally, the Cornish Rex is often touted as one of the most hypoallergenic cat breeds. Their short, soft fur reduces the spread of allergens through the air. The Cornish Rex requires weekly brushing to remove dead hairs but does not trigger allergies as severely as longhaired breeds. According to PureWow, they make an excellent choice “if you want a hypoallergenic longhair.”

Hailing from Siberia, the Siberian boasts a long triple-layered coat that produces lower levels of Fel d 1 protein than other longhaired breeds. Their thick fur makes Siberians adept hunters in cold climates. While not completely non-allergenic, PetFinder notes that many allergy sufferers “have better luck with Siberians than other cat breeds.” Their minimal shedding helps contain allergens.

With bright blue eyes and a silky gray coat, the Balinese is a longhaired cat related to the Siamese. Their fine coat sheds less dander than other longhaired breeds, producing lower amounts of allergens. According to PetMD, “weekly brushing and regular bathing—about every one to two weeks—can reduce allergens.” While not completely hypoallergenic, Balinese cats cause fewer allergy symptoms than many breeds.

Longhaired Cat Breeds

longhaired cat breeds like the persian require daily grooming

Some of the most popular and beloved cat breeds have long, flowing coats. While longhaired cats require more grooming to keep their fur free of mats, their luxurious locks lend an air of beauty and elegance. Here are some of the most notable longhaired cat breeds:

The Persian, with its long, silky coat and smooshed face, has been a favorite for centuries. Originating in the Middle East, Persians come in a variety of colors and patterns, from solid white to calico. Their long fur requires daily grooming to prevent tangles.

The Maine Coon boasts a shaggy, water-repellent coat that helped it thrive as a mouser in New England’s cold winters. One of America’s oldest natural breeds, the Maine Coon is prized as a gentle giant with an engaging personality. Its soft fur comes in nearly any color and pattern.

The Norwegian Forest Cat is a fluffy feline hailing from Scandinavia. Its double coat provides insulation from the cold climate and water resistance. Medium-long fur covers the cat’s body, with a ruff around the neck and tufted paws. It sheds seasonally and requires weekly brushing.

The playful Ragdoll gets its name from its tendency to go limp when picked up. Developed in California in the 1960s, this gentle giant boasts a silky semi-long coat in a variety of patterns. Requiring daily brushing, the Ragdoll’s coat lacks an undercoat so it doesn’t shed excessively.

Shorthaired Cat Breeds

Some of the most popular cat breeds are shorthaired. Shorthaired cats have a coat length of less than 2 inches and do not have an undercoat. This makes their fur low maintenance and hypoallergenic. Here are some of the most popular shorthaired cat breeds:

The Siamese is one of the oldest and most recognizable cat breeds. Siamese cats are known for their distinctive color points and striking blue eyes. They have a short, silky coat that sheds minimally. Siamese are active, vocal, and social. They form strong bonds with their owners. Read more about the Siamese breed.

The Abyssinian is an active and inquisitive cat breed. They have a distinctly ticked coat in various shades of brown. Abyssinians are intelligent, playful, and affectionate. They thrive when kept occupied with toys and activities. Learn more about the Abyssinian.

The Oriental Shorthair resembles the Siamese but comes in a wider variety of coat colors and patterns. They share personality traits with the Siamese, being extroverted, vocal, and demanding of human interaction. Orientals are elegant, agile cats. More on the Oriental Shorthair breed.

The British Shorthair is known for its dense, plush coat and stocky build. British Shorthairs are calm, easygoing, and adaptable. They enjoy playing and cuddling. Their laidback nature makes them a popular breed. Read about the British Shorthair breed traits.

Active Cat Breeds

Some cats are much more energetic and active than others. For families or owners who want a lively feline companion, there are certain breeds well-suited for an active lifestyle.

The Abyssinian is one of the most active and athletic breeds. They are agile, playful, and very intelligent. Abyssinians love jumping, climbing, and exploring their surroundings. They require lots of interactive play and mental stimulation. Without enough activity, Abyssinians can become mischievous.

The Bengal is another very energetic breed that thrives when kept active. They love playing fetch and doing high jumps to catch toys in mid-air. Bengals are also fond of water, making them great swimming companions. Daily interactive play sessions are a must for this curious and intelligent breed.

For those seeking an exotic yet active feline, the Savannah is a unique option. A cross between a domestic cat and an African Serval, Savannahs retain much of the wild cat’s athleticism and energy. Savannahs love to run, jump, and climb. Providing lots of high perches and puzzle toys will keep them happily occupied.

The Siamese is a classic breed renowned for its energetic personality. Siamese cats love to play, follow their owners around, and vocalize. Keeping a Siamese mentally and physically stimulated is important to prevent destructive behavior. Siamese do well when provided daily interactive play sessions and activities.

Lap Cat Breeds

Some cat breeds are known for being particularly affectionate and enjoying sitting on their owner’s laps. These lap cat breeds make excellent companions for people looking for a cuddly feline friend.

The Ragdoll is one of the most popular lap cat breeds. Known for their docile personalities and tendency to go limp when held, Ragdolls love being cradled in their owners’ arms like a baby. Their long, silky fur makes them pleasing to pet and hold.

The Persian is another breed cherished for its sweet, affectionate nature. These cats have a laidback attitude and enjoy lounging on laps when they aren’t busy grooming their luscious long fur. Their squished faces give them a perpetually grumpy look that owners find endearing.

The playful Birman forms strong bonds with their families. They like being the center of attention and will often seek out a warm lap to cuddle up on. Birmans are patient cats that enjoy being petted and fussed over.

The Munchkin is a newer breed known for its stubby little legs and affectionate nature. Despite their small size, Munchkins love climbing onto laps and snuggling up with their owners. Their sweet dispositions make them ideal companions.

Rare and Unique Cat Breeds

there are many rare and unique cat breeds that make great pets

There are many rare and unique cat breeds that make loving pet companions. These breeds have distinguishing characteristics that set them apart from more common cats. While they can be harder to find, these breeds are worth seeking out for the right owner.

One very unique looking breed is the LaPerm. As the name suggests, they are known for their curly coats, which can range from wavy to tight ringlets. According to Rover, the LaPerm’s coat is hypoallergenic and sheds minimally. These medium-sized cats are described as active, social and outgoing. First discovered in Oregon in 1982, they come in many colors and patterns.

The playful American Curl has highly distinctive curled back ears. Their ears curl back giving them a sweet, alert expression. American Curls are affectionate, intelligent cats that enjoy being with their human families. They come in both longhaired and shorthaired varieties and many patterns and colors.

The Peterbald is a hairless cat breed from Russia. They have a hair-losing gene that causes them to be born bald or with very little fur that falls out over time. Peterbalds are active, social cats that love to be around people. They come in a wide range of coat textures and patterns when they do have fur. This rare breed forms strong bonds with their owners.

While not yet commonplace, these unique cat breeds and others provide loving companionship to their owners. Their distinctive looks and personalities make them fascinating additions to any cat-loving home.

Choosing the Right Breed

Choosing the right cat breed is an important decision that requires some consideration of your lifestyle and preferences. The main factors to think about are activity level, grooming needs, and personality.

key factors in choosing a cat breed are activity, grooming, personality

If you lead an energetic, active lifestyle, you may want to consider breeds like the Abyssinian that can match your energy levels. According to How to choose a cat breed to suit your personality, the Abyssinian is a great choice for energetic owners.

Certain breeds like the Persian and Maine Coon require extensive grooming to keep their long fur looking its best. Make sure you are willing to commit to daily brushing and maintenance if you choose a longhaired breed, as noted by Best Breeds for a House Cat | Ocala Vets.

Breed personality can vary widely too. Lap cats like the Ragdoll thrive on human companionship, while independent breeds like the Egyptian Mau are more aloof. Decide whether you want an affectionate cuddle buddy or a more self-sufficient feline.

Taking stock of your lifestyle and preferences will help guide you to finding the perfect cat breed for you. Focus on activity level, grooming requirements, and personality traits during your search.


When choosing to adopt a cat, selecting the right breed is an important decision that requires thorough research. With over 70 recognized cat breeds to choose from, each with their own appearances, personalities, and care requirements, it’s essential to find the one that best fits your lifestyle.

In this article, we explored some of the most popular breeds like the playful Abyssinian, the low-shedding Balinese, the vocal Siamese, and the attention-loving Ragdoll. We also looked at less common breeds like the hairless Sphynx, the easy-going Norwegian Forest Cat, and the hypoallergenic Siberian.

While aesthetics are tempting, don’t choose a breed based on looks alone. Consider activity levels, grooming needs, health issues, and temperament. An outgoing and energetic breed like the Bengal may not thrive in a quiet, low-key household for example. Do your homework to find the ideal match.

Owning a cat can bring great joy, affection, and companionship. We hope this overview gave you a helpful introduction to the diverse world of cat breeds. Whichever breed you decide on, with proper care and attention, your new feline friend will be a cherished part of your family.

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