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Cats might be the darlings of the Internet, but you don't often see them out and about with their humans, lounging at coffee shops or parks like their canine counterparts. So unless you're a cat breeder, a regular reader of our cat breed profile pages or a faithful cat show attendee, chances are there are many cat breeds and varieties you’ve never heard of.
Whether you’re looking to bring home a new kitty or simply want to impress your friends with your superior feline knowledge, here are 11 rare or lesser-known cat breeds you should know about.
Helmi Flick, Animal Photography
The Havana Brown's distinct chocolate coat and striking emerald eyes make it hard to believe that fewer than 1,000 of these stunning cats are estimated to exist in the world. This rare breed often loves human company and will do everything he can to get attention, including chatting with his family in a soft voice.
Tetsu Yamazaki, Animal Photography
Like his cousin, the Turkish Angora, the Turkish Van tends to like water and isn’t afraid to take a dip in the tub or swimming pool. The energetic breed, which wasn’t discovered by Westerners until the mid-1950s, hails from Lake Van in Turkey's eastern Anatolian region. Vans have plush coats that feel like cashmere, and most are white with color on the tail and head.
A relatively new breed, the Savannah was recognized by The International Cat Association (TICA) in 2012. Known for his large pointed ears and spotted coat, this exotic-looking feline was created by crossing African Servals with domestic cats then breeding the offspring with Egyptian Maus, Oriental Shorthairs, Ocicats and other breeds. The highly intelligent and active Savannah demands a lot of attention and loves to get into mischief, especially at your expense.
Alan Robinson, Animal Photography
The LaPerm doesn’t need any chemicals to get his gorgeous corkscrew curls — those ringlets develop naturally and are a result of a spontaneous mutation. His easy-to-groom curly coat comes in all colors and patterns seen in cats. But while you might have heard that curly-coated pets are hypoallergenic, that’s a myth. Pet dander causes allergies, not fur. As far as his personality goes, the LaPerm is generally friendly, inquisitive and can be fond of heights.
No, this cat is not a miniature panther. Despite his wild appearance, the Bombay is typically easygoing and affectionate. He’d much rather be curled up in your lap or learning how to walk on a leash than prowling in the wild like his distant big cat cousins.
Revered as a national treasure in his native Thailand, the Singapura is a small cat with a big personality. When he’s not leaping from high places, you’ll find him supervising your household, chasing toys and playing with whatever he can find on the kitchen counter.
You’ve probably heard of the Abyssinian, but did you know that the breed has a longhaired variety called the Somali? Like the Aby, the Somali tends to be athletic, curious and always on the move. With her large ears, ticked coat and bushy tail, the breed could pass for a small fox. In fact, the Somali’s nickname is “fox cat.”
Johnny Kruger, Animal Photography
Named for the island of Bali’s famed graceful dancers, the Balinese sports a luxurious, silky coat and has gorgeous blue eyes. If you think she looks remarkably similar to a Siamese — but with a longer coat — you’re on the right track. The breed is thought to be the result of a spontaneous genetic mutation for a longhaired coat within the Siamese breed.
Bred by crossing a Bengal with a domestic shorthair, the Toyger truly looks like a tiny tiger. Of course, the Toyger is much more friendly and gentle than his wild doppelganger. The playful and intelligent breed appreciates a game of fetch and can even be persuaded to walk on a leash.
If you're lucky enough to own a Korat, you know that the inquisitive kitty likes to be involved in everything you do and hates to be left alone. In his native Thailand, the Korat is a national treasure whose green eyes symbolize prosperity, and his heart-shaped face is thought to bring happiness to brides.
The Ocicat might look like a ferocious feline you’d find in the jungle, but she’s generally as friendly as can be. Outgoing and confident, the spotted breed revels in human attention and often won’t hesitate to hang out with guests, kids, dogs and other cats.
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