Opinions vary about how many breeds of domestic cats there actually are, but one thing is for sure: the variety of cats is astonishing!
The International Progressive Cat Breeders Alliance recognizes 73 breeds, while the Cat Fanciers' Association recognizes 44. However many there really are, I'm sure we can all agree on one thing: there are a lot!
Here are 13 of the rarest cat breeds ever recorded:
Sphynx cats were selectively bread in the 1960s. Although it might seem like they don't have fur, they are actually covered with very fine furs called chamois.
Breeders consider them to be among the most "dog-like" of the domestic cat breeds. They are curious, sociable, high energy and affectionate of their owners.
12. The Serengeti
If you think you're looking at a Bengal cat - you would be partially right. The Serengeti is a cross between the Bengal and an Oriental Shorthair. Although this breed is fairly recent - established in 1994 - the aim is to have a cat that looks like a wild serval cat without using any wild cat blood.
11. The Burmilla
This champion cat breed is a cross between the Chinchilla Persian and the Burmese cat. They were first created in 1981 by an accident of fate. A Chinchilla Persian named Sanquist and a Brown Tortie Burmese were waiting for a partner of their own breed in different rooms when the night cleaner left the door open.
Months later, four adorable kittens were born!
10. The Minskin
Can you guess what breeds mixed to make this little cutie?
Some call them the 'corgis of the cat world.' In 2000, the first Minskin was born in Boston, Massachusetts when Paul McSorley bred his Munchkin cats with the Sphynx. These stubby-legged kitties have healthier immune systems and weigh as little as 4 pounds.
9. The Norwegian Forest Cat
These majestic cats are a natural breed that have adapted to the cold winter weather. During World War II, it almost became extinct, but thanks to breeding programs, has been restored. It is a big, strong cat that can live up to 16 years and weighs up to 16 pounds!
8. Devon Rex
Sure, they might seem a little strange looking, but don't let that fool you! The Devon Rex is one of the most intelligent domestic cats. They are capable of learning difficult tricks and can recognize their owner's name as well as their own.
They love people! These cats are so playful and mischievous that their owners often describe them as a "monkey in a cat suit!"
"Bonjour! I'm a Chartreux!" This breed of beauties was first mentioned in a French poem in 1558. It is believed that they are descended from the cats of Syria who were brought back to France during the Crusades of the 13th century.
They have shorty, nappy fur that is water-resistant. They are observant, intelligent and affectionate - they carefully pick their person and when they do, that's a bond for life.
6. Tonkinese Cat
Think you're looking at a Siamese? Well, you kind of are!
The Tonkinese is a beautiful cross between a Siamese and a Burmese. Like their parents, they are lively, playful and vocal cats. Experts believe that the a Tonkinese-like cat breed has existed in the West since the early 19th century.
5. The Abyssinian
These gorgeous cats are one of the most popular breeds of short-haired cat in the United States. Thought to have originated somewhere near Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) they were named for the region.
Their distinctive coat is made up of individual hairs that are banded with different colors. As they mature, their coat lightens. They are known as the "clowns of the cat kingdom," since they can be goofy, playful and curious.
4. Egyptian Mau
These are the fastest of the domesticats and can get up to a running speed of over 30 mph. Their eyes can change from green to turquoise according to their mood and they are more sensitive to temperature than most breeds. There are only about 6,700 Maus registered with the Cat Fanciers' Association.
3. Kurilian Bobtail
It might not seem like this cat can swim, but they can! The Kurilian loves to play in the water, they are excellent fishers and hunters. Although they've got great hunting instincts, they are clever and gentle by nature.
Their adorable little pom-pom kinked short tail has between 2 and 10 vertebrae. These stocky cats can live from 14 to 20 years.
2. Turkish Angora
The Angora is one of the most ancient, natural breeds of domestic cat. It has been documented as early as the 17th century. It looks much like the Persian cat, but the Angora has a much narrower face and nose.
They like to be helpful, excel at basic problem solving skills and love to play. Like the Chartreux, these cats pick their person and the bond is for life. They are often quite protective of their human.
1. British Shorthair
The British Shorthair is one of the most ancient cat breeds we know of. It was likely imported to Britain by the invading Romans in the first century AD.
These old boys (and girls) are easygoing, dignified and sweet-natured. You might recognize them as the inspiration for the Alice In Wonderland's Cheshire Cat. More current cat enthusiasts will recognize them as the Cheezburger cat:
That's it! Did you recognize any of these rare beauties? Let us know in the comments below - please Like & Share with your fellow cat lovers everywhere!