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Top 10 Rare Cat Breeds You Never Knew Existed

Kit Arbuckle
Oct. 15, 2015

From tiny and cute to fast and ferocious, these rare cat breeds will amaze you with their adaptibilty and skills.

You've heard of feline endangered species like the snow leopard and house cats like the Persian. But have you ever heard of a fishing cat or a Korat? Rare cat breeds live all over the world! Whether cute or bizarre, wild or domestic, learn more about some of the world's rarest felines.

  1. Kodkod
    Studies suggest only about 2,000 Kodkods live in the wild, according to the International Society for Endangered Cats (ISEC). These small cats, weighing in at three to seven pounds, live in a limited range in the dense forests of Chile. Also the smallest feline in the Americas, they have black-spotted coats in grays and browns and short, thick tails.

  2. Pallas's Cat
    Fluffy and stocky with an expressive face, these rare felines live in Central Asian areas, like Mongolia. Their long, thick coat protects them from the harsh climate they call home but has also contributed to their decline. The cats were hunted for their fur, according to the Big Cat Rescue. Pallas's cats have a similar size to domestic breeds and were once thought, incorrectly, to be predecessors of Persian cats.

  3. Sphynx
    When it comes to unusual, the Sphynx tops the list. The breed originated in Canada in the 1960s from a genetic mutation, says the Cat Fanciers' Association. While often called hairless, the Sphynx actually has a very fine down-like coat. The large ears and eyes add to the distinct appearance of the cat. This high-energy feline typically costs over $1,000.

  4. Fishing Cat
    The fishing cat lives primarily in India, parts of Asia and Indonesia. A medium-sized feline, they weigh from 15 to 25 pounds. This aptly named cat hunts aquatic animals, like frogs, fish and even ducks. The cat can also swim underwater. Fishing cats have become rare due to habitat loss and hunting, says the Smithsonian National Zoological Park.

  5. Iberian Lynx
    Only 100 Iberian lynxes were alive in 2002 and these rare cats remain critically endangered. Numbers have increased to over 300 due to conservation efforts, with 53 cubs born in 2015 according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The Iberian lynx populates the Mediterranean forests of the Iberian Peninsula. The medium-sized cat weighs up to 30 pounds and has a distinct appearance with ear tufts and a beard.

  6. Scottish Wildcat
    With fewer than 100 left in the wild, these cats are one of the rarest cat breeds in the world. Scottish wildcats resemble a large tabby cat. They have a muscular build, a ringed tail and a thick coat. While stories of them hunting larger animals exist, they primarily eat small prey animals, like rodents and rabbits, per Save the Scottish Wildcat.

  7. Korat
    The Korat cat dates back hundreds of years in Thailand. A fairly small, domesticated cat weighing less than 10 pounds, the breed has a unique heart-shaped head and silvery-blue fur, according to the International Cat Association. Korat cats were traditionally given as gifts, often to brides. The genetic pool for Korats remains small, making them one of the world's rarer cat breeds. Costs for Korat kittens and cats range from several hundred to thousands of dollars.

  8. Black-footed Cat
    With their big eyes and small size, these cats could pass for a kitten. Weighing in at only two to four pounds, the ISEC says the black-footed cat is the smallest of its kind on the African continent. Don't let the cute face and tiny size fool you. These cats can and will defend themselves against jackals and hunt large prey.

  9. Sand Cat
    Another cat that ranks high on the cuteness scale, the sand cat lives in the Saharan and Middle Eastern deserts. According to ISEC, sand cats weigh three to eight pounds and have thick fur, including on the bottoms of their paws to protect them from the heat. Competition for resources, habitat loss and illegal capturing and selling makes the already rare cat even lower in numbers.

  10. American Wirehair
    The American Wirehair has a wool-like, springy coat. The medium-sized cat makes an affectionate housecat. American Wirehairs were developed in the late '60s in New York, according to the CFA. With few registered wirehairs, the cat tops the list of rare cat breeds, and its high cost reflects that.


Interested in more unique animal breeds? Check out the Top 10 Crazy Cool Dog Breeds.

Kit Arbuckle works as a freelance writer covering parenting, education, health and pet care topics.

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