Cat Breeds and How to Choose
When choosing a cat to add to your family, it’s essential to consider breeds (as well as the pros and cons of each). Determining the best cat for you (and your family!) can be a tough call, so read on to discover common cat breeds, as well as some rare ones!
Common Cat Breeds
- American Shorthair
One of the most familiar cats on this list, the American shorthair is a friendly cat that is very laid back, good with families, and enjoys children. They love to perch on windowsills, watch birds and bugs (whether inside or outside the house), and are often found lounging in patches of sunshine. They’re independent creatures, like most cats, but are often known to be amazing lap cats. Their coats are easy to care for, they are hardy on account of their breeding variety, but may still fall prey to common cat ailments like fleas, parasites, and feline leukemia. However, for an individual looking for a cat that’s easy to love and care for, the American Shorthair fits the bill.
- Scottish Fold
The Scottish Fold, known for their tightly folded ears, is hard to miss in a lineup! They tend to be intelligent, curious, and fiercely protective of their families. They don’t sulk or hide, and may even follow you around the house like a dog. Their intelligence is one of their defining features, with many getting into mischief on account of it - some going as far as to move items around the house, open and close doors and cabinets, and other tomfoolery. They can, however, be trained in order to divert some of their curious energy, with some able to fetch or play tricks. Curiously enough, Scottish Folds aren’t born with the characteristic flat ears; rather, their ears are straight when their born, and gradually fold down as they grow.
If the chill cat is the choice for you, the Himalayan is the perfect option. A cuddly, fuzzy breed, these flat-faced charmers would rather Netflix-and-snuggle than learn party tricks. Despite its cuddliness, however, these cats aren’t needy. If you neglect them for too long, though, they know how to use their plaintive yowls and meows to get your attention! Keep in mind, too, that even though Himalayans are emotionally independent for the most part, their long coats will need daily grooming to keep it from matting.
- American Wirehair
Originally bred from the American Shorthair, the American Wirehair is another low-maintenance, easy-care kitty. They get along with everyone, from a tiny baby to a senior citizen. Its characteristic wiry fur doesn’t need much upkeep, and is a naturally occurring feature due to a dominant gene that emerged from a line of Shorthairs. Despite the fur being easy care, however, be sure to watch for signs of sensitive skin underneath. The heavy coat can sometimes trap hairs and dirt, which creates the need for occasional brushing and baths.
- Maine Coon
The Maine Coon has become a bit of a legend in America, where it’s native to the northernmost state on the east coast. Looking somewhat like a long-haired wildcat, with the size of a dog, the Main Coon is surprisingly goofy and playful. They’re ideal for families who don’t mind a large companion that needs a lot of interaction and play. Interestingly enough, the name emerged from a local legend that the cat was bred from domestic cats and raccoons (which is, of course, untrue). However, it’s not hard to see why the idea took root - the Coon’s pelt often takes on a raccoonish appearance. These gentle giants, while in need of grooming often, make wonderful pets.
The sweet, sincere Persian is perfect for the cat owner that has more time to cuddle than to play. They prefer quiet environments where they can lay back and relax, and would work best with a pet-parent who needs the same. If petted, combed, and cooed at, the Persian would be the happiest cat in the world. You’re more likely to find your Persian walking on solid ground (or napping someplace warm) than you are someplace high, and they prefer someone who will love them while giving them space. Persians need daily grooming and regular bathing to stay healthy and beautiful, so these cats are best suited to a family or individual who has the time to devote to them.
Another unique-looking, but common, kitty is the Munchkin! True to their name, these cats have stubby little legs and a long body. Don’t let their appearance fool you, though! They love to run, jump, and play, and would like nothing more than to fritter time away with a gaggle of children and their toys. Munchkins are also easy to groom, needing only weekly combing to remove dead hair and skin. However, they need lots of love and attention, so choose a Munchkin only if you can give it the stimulation it deserves!
The hallmark of grace, elegance, and opulence, Siamese cats are also intelligent and loud. They require attention to be completely healthy, so it would be unwise to leave one unattended for long periods of time. They are amazing with children and other pets, and will demand your love and affection with many a meow and yowl. They are very talkative and interactive, so be prepared to get your Siamese a friend if you don’t have all day to listen and play!
The Thai are similar to the Siamese cats in that they are intelligent, curious, and LOVE people. They are very much like hyperactive puppies in that if it’s possible to get into something, the Thai cat will find a way into it. They will climb curtains, follow you around, and sit on your computer when you’re trying to work. Despite their need for attention, the Thai are incredibly loving cats that will never make you feel neglected. If you need a close companion that will love you unconditionally, the Thai is the way to go!
- British Shorthair
The British Shorthair, known for its fat cheeks and roly-poly appearance, is one of the oldest breeds of cats. They love to be the boss of the house, keeping their feet squarely on the ground and always finding the coziest place for a nap. While somewhat hands-off, the British Shorthair makes a wonderfully loyal companion that doesn’t require very much attention to stay content. So long as you keep an eye on their food intake (since they can easily gain too much weight) and provide them with a comfy place to sleep, the British Shorthair will devote their stolid lives to you and be a dependable friend for years to come.
Rare Cat Breeds
On the other side of the mouthy spectrum, the Chartreux cat is very quiet, rarely meowing or chirping at all. Some don’t make a sound their entire lives. Despite their silence, Chartreux cats are playful and sweet, making excellent companions for families with children or adults who enjoy play. Their quiet nature also makes them perfect for older individuals or anyone else who enjoys their peace and quiet. They often bond to one person in a family, but will happily play or be pet by anyone in the house.
- Donskoy cat
The Donskoy cat is a bald Russian breed, and is similar in appearance to the Sphynx cats (despite the fact that they’re not related at all). These cats often have health problems, most likely caused by their rarity and subsequent inbreeding to preserve their characteristic bald pelt. They need lots of love and care, since their skin is sensitive to both over washing and under washing, as well as sunlight and extreme temperatures. The Donskoy is perfect for anyone who needs an animal to look after, since they will need your time and attention.
The Korat has a blisteringly fast mind, with a keen eye for details and a razor sharp memory. If your Korat gets lost, you can be certain that they will find their way back home. They have an easy time telling family members apart, and will sometimes choose a favorite among them (since the Korat is fond of hierarchy, the person they choose may seem more dominant than others). Since they’re keenly aware of their whereabouts and territory, the Korat may have an issue with marking in the house in order to carve out a space for themselves. It’s important to take the time to train Korats thoroughly, unless you don’t mind the smell of cat pee in your carpet.
The Lykoi is another natural mutation from the domestic short-hair, but this breed is much rarer. The name, meaning “wolf” in Greek, is an apt description of the cat’s appearance - these cats lose their hair in a distinctive pattern that lends them a werewolf-ish look. Despite its exotic and unusual appearance, the Lykoi was bred and raised only in the last 20 years in Vonore, Tennessee. While the cat may look fierce, Lykois are friendly and affectionate and make excellent family pets.
An affectionate, playful, and cheerful cat, Nebelungs make excellent housepets. They are very possessive of their families, fully integrating into their households with ease. They can sometimes be wary of strangers, but strategic socialization may help with this. Nebelungs are also excellent communicators, yowling whenever their bowls are empty or their litterboxes are full. They can often be picky with their food and litter, so pamper these cats well. Their affectionate bonds with people make up for this pickiness, however, and the Nebelung will be a wonderful family companion for life.
A cat of experimental Russian origins, the Peterbald was first bred by a woman named Olga S. Mironova. They look very similar to Oriental Shorthairs, despite the fact that they are often completely bald. They are sweet, calm, and very intelligent, but aren’t as loud as their Siamese or Thai counterparts. They will often follow around their favorite person like a dog, and love busy households with other cats, dogs, and/or children.
- Raas Cat
The Raas cat is an especially rare breed, even among other rare cats. Because of this, not much is known of their behavior, but their appearance is a striking one. These cats, hailing from Raas Island in Indonesia, look similar to leopards and bobcats. They’re quite large (but not as large as the Maine Coon), and have a characteristically bent tail. Their eyes are often dark green. If one comes across or adopts a Raas cat, please send a photo and/or description! These cats are hardly seen, and we’d love to learn more about them.
- Sphynx cat
A very outspoken, high-energy cat, the Sphinx may be best known for its bald coat. They are often described as being doglike, showing abundant affection for their pet parents and often greeting them at the door when they come home. While they’re easy to care for emotionally, these easy-going, happy cats need lots of love to stay healthy. Careful bathing is important to prevent oil-buildups on their skin, but don’t bathe them too often! If you do their skin can dry out and crack or chap. Also, limit the Sphynx’s exposure to sunlight or extreme temperatures, since these cats burn easily and are extremely affected by the cold and heat.
The Suphalak is an ancient breed, first appearing in descriptions in ancient Thai manuscripts written by Buddhist monks over 300 years ago. Despite the breed’s age, these cats are very affectionate and young-acting, preferring the company of people to any other creature. They’re smart, playful, and need lots of attention to stay happy. They thrive in environments where they have many friends to play with.
- Thai Lilac
The Thai Lilac has a double-whammy of rareness. These cats are Korat in breed, but their distinctive coloration puts them in a class of their own. They appear greyish-purple, can sometimes resemble the Siamese, and can often have chocolate coats instead of the grey-purple fur that they’re named for. This distinction of cat is very recent, with the first documented in 2014. These cats share the personality traits of the Korat and Siamese, which makes them perfect for families and individuals who like to play!
While all cats are wonderful and deserving of a forever home, don’t forget to consider what breed of cat would work best for you, your home, and your lifestyle. If you’ve chosen a cat, or our list helped you choose, tell us all about him or her in the comments! If you enjoyed the content, don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter to get alerts about new articles and products. Looking for more helpful or entertaining content about cats? Browse our about cats section.