There are more cat breeds out there than anyone would ever have thought, and knowing your cat’s breed can go a long way towards understanding their nature.
Each cat breed has its own special habits, and some cat breeds are known for being quiet while others have voices that can stretch over several octaves and command an entire room – and often do.
“Why is my cat yelling?” is a common question that can sometimes be answered just by the type of breed: Yes, some cats just happen to be noisy – and no, you can’t do much about it.
The same way, there are different habits and traits to every breed, and you have to understand the breed of your cat before you’ll understand just why they act the way they do.
Here are 15 smart and affectionate cat breeds that you should know and a little more about the characteristics that make each of them unique.
1. Egyptian Mau
The Egyptian Mau is considered one of the most ancient cat breeds, and pure Mau cats are exceptionally rare – in fact, less than 200 pure Mau’s are registered every year, and there are just under 7, 000 of them currently registered.
They hail from Egypt and the Middle East, though today they can be found in many parts of the world – even intermingled with other breeds. One of what makes this cat breed unique is the spots – and the letter M displayed on the forehead.
Mau’s are sensitive to heat, and prefer hotter climates or direct sunlight and will tend to shy away from colder weather. Their front legs are shorter.
They also have one of the longest gestational periods for any cat, so if your cat has been pregnant for what seems like a week too long, there’s a strong possibility that they could be a Mau.
2. Burmese Cat
The Burmese cat originates from Thailand, and technically all Burmese cats can trace their origins back to the DNA of a single cat that goes back to the 1930’s when breeding with this unique breed was first started.
There are considered to be two standard breeds of the Burmese, depending on where they were bred – usually there are some small differences in the British and American varieties.
While Burmese cats are pretty small, most of their owners report that they feel heavier than they look. Burmese cats are usually short-haired, and usually their eyes range between green or gold with their coats a dark brown tint – though today many variations on this pattern exist.
They’re known as a very playful, fun breed to have around – and they’re one of the breeds that are the most people-friendly and can stick close to their owners for life. Rarely, they really love people!
3. American Curl
The strongest characteristic of the American Curl cat is right in the name; their ears are what makes this special cat breed stand out, and their ears will form a literal “curl” that you won’t see in any other cat breed.
It’s one of the few cats that are listed as both long and short-haired varieties, and they come in several shades of coat – but always with the characteristic curly ears that go along with it. They’re usually one of the smaller cat breeds that you’ll find. They’re known for having a deep purr, and they’ll even love most other cats.
These cats are usually in excellent health and don’t have a long list of health issues like some other cat breeds, but they do require some special care when it comes to their ears, which will need a pretty careful clean or repeated ear infections or injury are common.
4. Russian Blue
The Russian Blue is one of the rarer cat breeds, and if you ever encounter a pure Russian Blue you can surely count yourself lucky to have met one. They’re usually only available in the long-hair variety, and the characteristic of a true Russian Blue is the blue eyes that usually manifest when they’re a kitten and don’t change to something else when they’re grown up.
They’re most commonly silver or grey – and, of course, hail from Russia. They’re one of the few cat breeds that are considered entirely hypoallergenic, which makes them popular – and a popular breed to strengthen the genetic lines of others as has been done in history before.
The Russian Blue is also known for having what’s known as a double coat, giving them literally two times the amount of hair to shed, and will need regular brushing or you’re going to have (at least hypoallergenic!) cat hairs everywhere.
5. Persian Cat
The Persian Cat is one that goes by many names, and you might encounter it as an Iranian cat. It’s one of the few cat breeds that have been with humans for so long that it can be found in ancient Hieroglyphs.
It’s also listed as one of the second most popular cat breeds in the United States – and this is probably just because of their long history and the fact that they really happen to like people. They even get along with most other cats.
Some Persian cats have been bred to accentuate the flatter nose, though this has become less prevalent since it causes overall sinus issues for this breed – today, the usual doll-face Persian is bred as a long-haired cat without having to accentuate these features that can cause health problems in the breed later on.
Most associations discourage the over-accentuation of features such as the nose.
5. Siamese Cat
The Siamese cat originally comes from Thailand, though today happens to be one of the most popular cat breeds – definitely in the top five as far as popularity goes.
Characteristic traits of the Siamese breed include the triangular shaped head and what appears to be larger-than-usual eyes – bodies are normally very slender, and usually short-haired but also exist in a long-haired variety.
Siamese cats are known for being very playful overall, and they’re one of the breeds that tend to require a lot of attention to stay happy.
They’re usually hypoallergenic in either varieties of coat, and they’re one of the most talkative cat breeds you’ll find – and the best way to stop a Siamese cat from yelling at you is just to figure out what they’re yelling about and get them what they need.
The shade of Siamese cats tend to get darker as they age – and it’s gorgeous!
6. Maine Coon
The Maine Coon is the official state cat of Maine (just in case you didn’t guess this from the name), and it’s one of the largest of the cat breeds: If you’ve ever tried to pick up a full grown cat and nearly pulled a muscle, it’s likely one of these.
These cats are so fond of other animals and people that many refer to their overall psychology as “doglike” in certain ways – it’s one of the few cat breeds that you can actually put on a leash and take for a walk.
It’s usually long-haired, and the Maine Coon comes in every shade of coat – though usually long-haired. What makes this breed stand out most is the fact that they can handle (and sometimes even love) water – their systems are even designed to process rough river conditions where the water isn’t as pure or clean as it should be.
The Ragdoll cat breed most commonly has blue eyes and a long-haired coat, and these are one of the other cat breeds that are very well known for their love of people and other animals – and if you were wondering, they’ll usually even cope fine with other cats if you give them the time to get used to one another.
The name of the ragdoll comes from the habit of going completely limp when they’re picked up – just like a ragdoll. This means that you can carry them around for the majority of the day and they’ll actually love you for it: Ragdolls are great cats for people who are at home a lot, or people with circulatory issues who could use a little extra heat.
They’re also a great family cat, and they’ve also been known to be described as “doglike” by owners: You can take them for a walk!
8. Turkish Angora
The Turkish Angora originally comes from Turkey, but it’s also sometimes referred to as the Ankara breed – though both are the exact same thing.
They’re known for usually having long-haired coats, and this comes in every shade – including white and black, which is common.
When it comes to their overall characteristics, these cats are known for being perpetually playful – and they’re also one of the cat breeds that cope well with people, but they’re also known for being picky cats, so they’ll choose a member of the family that they like best and be quick to let you know.
They can be seen with most types of eye shades, but is also one of the cat breeds in which having two different shades for each eye is very common – the proper name for this is heterochromia, sometimes even seen in humans!
9. Scottish Fold
It doesn’t take much to guess that the Scottish Fold breed of cat originally comes from Scotland – but what most people won’t know about the Scottish Fold until they’ve seen one is the fact that the name comes from the characteristic shared by their ears: These cats usually have small ears that are folded almost completely flat to the head, hence their name.
There’s also sometimes called the Highland Fold, the Longhair Fold or the Coupari – and there are some Scottish Fold cats that share all of the other characteristics of the breed without having the folded ears.
These cats need a lot of attention and will develop depression if they don’t have a friend, mate or companion – but in the right environment, these cats absolutely love people. They’re known for being one of the more stubborn breeds, and once they’ve made up their mind, nothing can ever change it.
10. British Shorthair
Along with the Mau, the British Shorthair is one of the most ancient cat breeds that we know of – and the British Shorthair is one of the most popular ones that we have today.
These cats are known for always having a thick, short-haired coat – and unless you give them regular brushings, their hair will end up all over the place.
While most people don’t know this, the British Shorthair was the inspiration for the Chershire Cat – and you’ll notice that how these cats behave are pretty similar to their fictional equivalent. They don’t take to embarrassment well, and they usually go with “Oh, did anyone see that?” when they do something odd like fall out of a tree.
They’re known for a round, fluffy face, huge eyes and what looks like an expression of permanent surprise or shock. These are one of few cat breeds that will hate being picked up.
11. Bombay Cat
The Bombay cat originally comes from India, but today is one of the most popular cat breeds all over the world. They’re known for their small to medium size, and their extremely friendly temperament and deep purr.
These can live for a very long time, and they’re one of the breeds that will need a lot of love and attention from their owners or they’re bound to develop depression. These breeds are extremely friendly and remain attached to the members of their family – and they hate being alone.
Some of the health problems that are common for this breed include sinus issues, so take note if your cat develops the sniffles. They’re one of few cat breeds that will eat for as long as there’s food, so be sure to control their food intake – or always leave a few pellets in the bowl so they can “snack” throughout the day.
The main characteristic of the Manx cat is the fact that this breed has eventually developed a shortened tail over time until the majority of Manx cats seen today are born without a tail – this is seen in very few other cat breeds, and it’s likely that if this trait manifests at all that you have a Manx somewhere in the cat’s bloodline.
Another characteristic of the Manx is the fact that they are extremely good hunters, making them the choice breed of cat for anyone who needs a cat around the house for pest control – they were even a choice breed for seafarers, and the same breed will still happen to love water today.
These cats are friendly, cope very well with most people and like many other cat breeds they prefer being with their owners – or in a pack of other cats whom they get along with well.
The Savannah is what happens when a domestic cat is crossed with a serval cat – and the breed was only officially accepted for registration with the most cat associations in 2001.
They’re known for having a skinny, slender build (much like other cats with their breed origins in the wild, such as the Mau) – although they are a very, very large cat. They can weigh as much as 20 pounds at their height and still be completely healthy.
Their markings are much like a cheetah, owing to their wild origins, and they were only officially accepted as a Championship breed in 2012 – much more recently than most of the cats on this list.
Savannah cats are known for jumping on top of everything, and can jump about eight feet from a sitting position. They’re also one of the few different cat breeds that are known to “chirp” when they talk.