The advent of feline DNA testing has taken the guesswork out of learning our cats’ genetic history. All you need to do is swab their cheek, and you can get a complete report on what breeds make up your cat.
But have you ever wondered just how rare your cat is? We’ve compiled a list of the most common breeds of cats in no particular order. See if you recognize any features or compare them to your cat’s DNA results — you might be surprised!
1. The Domestic Shorthair (DSH)
While there are plenty of cat breeds that are exotic and unique, we want to start with the cat that everyone knows — the domestic shorthair. Domestic shorthair isn’t necessarily a breed unto itself; it’s a “catch-all” for any short-haired cat with no recognizable features of any “official” breed.
These are our companion cats, the cats that follow us home from work or show up on your front porch and adopt us. They may not be able to compete in any Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) cat shows, but you don’t have to have a piece of paper to be a fantastic pet and feline family member.
Domestic shorthairs come in almost unlimited colors and patterns — from tabby to calico (fun fact: nearly all calico cats are female). And the best part is you don’t have to pay expensive breeders fees — just stop by your local shelter and bring home a friend today.
2. The Maine Coon
When we say Maine Coons are large, we’re not kidding. There’s a reason they’re known as the gentle giants of the cat world! The longest cat in the world (at least, according to the Guinness Book of World Records) was a Maine Coon named Stewie, who passed away in 2013, clocking in at an impressive 48 inches from nose to tail.
Maine Coon cats are also known for their impressive tail, which is long enough to wrap around their body and provide them with extra warmth. Despite their massive size, Maine Coons are sweet, affectionate, cuddly babies who maintain their kitten-like personalities for most of their lives.
Although they may not always want to spend time on your lap, they usually like to stick fairly close to their people. Maine Coons are also the only long-haired cat breed native to the United States!
3. The Persian
Persians have a face only a mother could love, but that doesn’t stop people worldwide from falling in love with them. These cats are incredibly soft with big, round, expressive eyes and flat faces that give them a perpetually “grumpy” look.
But don’t worry — Persian cats may look like they woke up on the wrong side of the bed, but they have very gentle, sweet, and affectionate personalities.
Persians also have big, stocky bodies, which makes them naturally prefer to stay closer to the ground rather than perform feats of acrobatics — give them a sunny spot on the carpet, and they’ll stay there most of the day.
Persians come in six colors — black, blue, blue-cream smoke, black, cameo (red), and smoke tortoiseshell. However, regardless of color, Persians will need plenty of grooming as they are prone to developing mats and tangles if left to their own devices. You’ll also want to invest in a lint roller!
Similar breeds include the Himalayan and Turkish Angora.
4. The Abyssinian
Abyssinians may look wild, but looks can be deceiving.
Abyssinians are incredibly smart and inquisitive; they love to explore and aren’t afraid to check out every nook and cranny. Unfortunately, that also means they can get themselves into trouble, so Abyssinian owners should expect to get their cats out of at least a few jams in their lifetime.
However, they love attention from their pet parents, so they’ll always return for snuggles at the end of their adventures. A unique feature of the Abyssinian coat is the trademark ticked tabby “M” on their forehead.
They’re relatively low maintenance to groom, unlike breeds that need much more care and attention (we’re looking at you, Birmans). If you’re looking for a cat with a lot of personality that will always keep you on your toes, look no further.
5. The American Shorthair
American Shorthairs tend to have stocky, compact bodies. They’re also incredibly sociable, although they tend to be much quieter than the other breeds of cats on this list (if you’re looking for a talker, check out the Siamase, Japanese Bobtail, and Burmese cat breeds).
American Shorthairs are considered a “working” breed (yes, the same as many dog breeds), as they were originally bred to keep rodents and other vermin away from food storage. This ancestry is noticeable in how they play, so keeping them occupied with toys that challenge their intellect is the best way to keep them happy and mentally healthy.
When you look at the American Shorthair, you can see many of the same features that our Domestic Shorthair cats have — that’s because many DSHs are descended from those original mousers (which made their first cat show appearance way back in 1895).
6. The British Shorthair
No, the difference between American and British Shorthairs isn’t that one of them meows with an English accent. British Shorthairs are short, stocky, and quiet like their American counterparts. However, they aren’t quite as sociable and are known for being on the clumsy side.
They’re the perfect low-profile cat for a first-time cat owner — cuddly but not clingy. One of the benefits of the British Shorthair is that they don’t come with any breed-specific health problems, which is unusual for purebred animals.
7. The Bengal
If you want a unique stunner, the Bengal may be just the cat for you. However, Bengal cats aren’t the easiest to live with, so they’re not usually recommended for first-time cat owners.
Bengals are tall and muscular, with a spotted coat that makes them look a lot like their wild ancestors — they’re a hybrid created from the Asian leopard cat and domestic cats (primarily the Egyptian Mau). Bengals are confident and independent, but they have a sassy streak that causes them to “talk back” if they don’t like what you’re doing.
Bengals also need a high level of stimulation, especially in the form of hunting games. A bored Bengal can easily become destructive, so provide them with plenty of enrichment activities!
A similar breed is the Ocicat.
8. The Ragdoll
Ragdolls are often confused for Siamese, but the two are very different breeds. The most obvious difference is that Siamese cats are short to medium-haired, while Ragdolls are big, fluffy, long-haired cats.
However, both are known for their striking blue eyes, making them some of the most photogenic cats. Ragdolls are also far more independent, although they aren’t nearly as vocal. They’re huge cuddlers and prefer to be curled up on your lap over almost any other place in the house.
Similar breeds include the Snowshoe.
9. The Sphynx
If you’re a big fan of cats that don’t look like what you’d expect, you’ll love a hairless Sphynx. There really isn’t anything like them, with their big eyes and tall ears. Personality-wise, the Sphynx is mischievous and fun while still enjoying a good cuddle.
Not only are they unique, but they’re also great for those who have allergies. But don’t think their lack of coat means you’ll get out of grooming them. While you won’t have to break out the brush, hairless cats must be bathed frequently (often about once a week) to ensure they don’t get too oily.
Similar breeds include the Lykoi.
10. The Devon Rex
The Devon Rex has one of the most interesting coats on this list, making them one of the most popular cat breeds. While their coat is short, it’s also wavy, which gives them almost a stuffed animal look that makes them hard to resist.
The texture of their coat also makes them one of the best cats for people with dander allergies (other cats in this category include the Balinese, Siberian, and Sphynx).
Devon Rexs have petite faces with large ears, giving them an almost pixie-like appearance. They’re active, energetic, playful clowns who love being around their family just as much as they enjoy entertaining them. But they’ll also end the day curled up on your lap, purring away.
There are so many breeds of cats, each with unique personalities and physical characteristics. A few more beautiful breeds include:
- The Scottish Fold
- The Bombay
- The Chartreux
- The American Bobtail
- The American Curl
- The American Wirehair
- The Manx
- The Russian Blue
- The Turkish Van
Whether you already have a full house or are looking to adopt a new pet, knowing what to expect based on your cat’s breed characteristics can help you and your cat have a close, loving relationship.
Domestic shorthair, Bengal, Norwegian Forest Cat, or anywhere in between — being a good pet parent means getting to know your cat’s specific needs. ElleVet is here for you every step of the way.