In comparison to the vast list of types of dogs, there is a relatively small number of cat breeds. Although there are just over 40 recognized breeds of domestic cats, the variety and distinction both in markings, characteristics and personality is evident. Some cats seem wild, independent or cantankerous, while others are affectionate, talkative and social. Peruse our breakdown below to be better acquainted with the types of cat breeds available. They have been arranged based on size, temperament, and specific skills or features. Whether you are looking for a friendly feline companion, or a daring outdoor pest-hunter, this page should help you narrow down which breed would be the best match for you.
Medium & Big Cats
Breeds like Savannah cats, Maine Coons, Chausies, Ragdolls, Ragamuffins, Norwegian Forest Cats, Siberians, and American Bobtails all tend to be among the larger breeds of domestic cats. Medium sized felines are the Persians, Birmans, Siamese, Manx, Balinese, Russian Blues, British Shorthairs, Scottish Folds, the Selkirk Rexes, Exotic Shorthairs, Abyssinians , the Bengals and the beloved American Shorthair cats.
Though cats do not tend to vary in size as much as dogs do, there are several breeds which do stand out as noticeably smaller than others. The Singapura, the Minskin, the Cornish Rex and Devon Rex are all very small breeds. The American Curl tends to be smaller, and a distinct genetic mutation that gives the Munchkin stubby legs, makes him one of the most adorable little breeds available. Some cross-breeds result in other small hybrids, such as the Lambkin (a combination of Munchkins and Selkirks Rex cats), and the Bambino (a cross between the Sphynx and Munchkin), or the Napoleon (a Persian and Munchkin mix) and the Skookum (a Munchkin and Laperm mix) among others. While Dwarf, Tea cup and Toy cat breeds are often for sale, they are not recognized by official breeding clubs.
The top ten most popular cat breeds
The uncontested favorite breeds are: Persians, Ragdolls, Siamese, Maine Coons, American Shorthairs, Orientals, Birmans, Abyssinians, Exotic Shorthairs and the Sphynx. While these breeds vary greatly from each other, they are the favorite companion to many American households.
Generally, American Shorthair cats, Persians, Ragdolls, Burmese, Maine Coons, Birmans, and Manx cats love attention and tend to be more easy-going and adaptable to their environments. Abyssinians are also playful and active breeds that can keep up with busy children. However Ragdolls are the most laid-back, since they love being held, petted, and can be as gentle as a doll.
Working Cats/Pest Patrol Cats
All felines are instinctively determined when it comes to chasing vermin, but it takes a specific kind of cat to be a good hunter. All cats chase, but observe the kitty and see if she can maintain interest in stalking an item or toy; watch if she pounces, chews or shakes the toy at any interval. Typically Maine Coons, Manx cats, and American Shorthairs are reputedly adept hunters, and have been patrolling American homes and farms for hundreds of years. The hardy French breed of Chartreux cats, the factory-guarding Japanese Bobtails, or the street-wise Turkish Angoras have based their survival on pest hunting. Many owners have commented that choosing rescue cat (used to surviving on his own), or a kitten from litters born in barns, is likely to be the best way to find a reliable mouser. Whether you need a cat to ward off pesky mice and rats on the farm, or an alert city kitty to chase away pigeons and vermin from your balcony, most of the characteristics must be found in an individual cat rather than generalizing about the breed.
Lap / Companion Cats
Though some kitties prefer to have their own space, certain breeds love snoozing and lounging for hours with their pet-parent. Compared to many breeds, Ragdoll cats and Ragamuffins are the most content to cuddle, and are great companions for children and the elderly. Sphynxes have low body heat, and enjoy staying close by their owner. Persians are also very affectionate, and loved to be preened and adored by their families. Devon and Cornish Rexes love affection, and Tonkinese and Siamese cats will soak in as much social attention as they can get.
The Sphynx, Oriental Shorthair, Balinese, Devon Rex, Cornish Rex, Laperm, Russian Blue, and Siberian cats are hypoallergenic breeds that shed very little or not at all. These cats will still require regular brushing, and Sphynxes need to be washed at least once a week to avoid build-up on their smooth skin coats.
Rare & Exotic Cat Breeds
Many of the domesticated rare breeds are hybrids of wild cats such as the Jungle Cat, Serval or Asian Leopard. Of these breeds, are the Savannah (mixed from Sevals and domestic cats), the Jungle Bob (mixed from the Jungle cat and Pixie Bob), the Bengal Cat (an Asian leopard and domestic cat cross), as well as the Safari Cat (a mix of the Geoffroy’s cat and the Egyptian Mau). Other beloved rare breeds are the shorthaired Devon Rex, the Scottish Fold, the Chartreux, the Japanese Bobtail, and the Khao Manee (who often has one blue eye and one gold). The Exotic Shorthair look like cartoon character, and unique tea-cup Persians have become increasingly popular over the years. Munchkins (the short-legged cat breed), Pixie Bobs (which look just similar to bobcats), and lastly the hairless Sphynx cats are also popular rarities in the domestic feline world.
Wild Cats (which can be domesticated)
Some wild cats can comfortably transition into domestic cat life, if they are provided the proper food and enough space to roam and climb freely. Of these are Servals, bobcats, Caracals which can weigh 50 pounds and live to nearly 18 years. Canadian and Siberian Lynxes are independent and fierce pets, who can reach up to 80 pounds in weight, and prefer to sit on high perches in the house. The glamorous Ocelot, a small cat hailing from South America, is very independent and does not obey spoken commands. Ocelots have stunning markings, and are among the more expensive cats, costing up to $20,000. The Fishing Cat is a domesticated rare water-loving breed with webbed paws, and the Geoffroy’s Cat is one of the smallest wild cats, weighing only 8 pounds when fully grown.