10 Rare Cat Breeds: Servals, Turkish Vans and More!

Posted by Christy Caplan

Which rare cats do you know about? The Sphynx is a mysterious cat but you've likely heard of this cat breed. What about the Serval? The Serval is an exotic cat that is striking but needs an outdoor enclosure.

There are a number of domestic breeds even cat lovers may not be familiar with that made this list.

1. Sphynx


The official name for the hairless cat breed is the Sphynx cat. The breed began in the 1960s, when a domestic cat gave birth to a hairless kitten, which was the result of a natural gene mutation. Breeders began to breed cats with this mutation, creating the Sphynx cat breed.

Many people with cat allergies can tolerate a hairless cat. Although allergens are still present in their saliva, so they are not completely hypo-allergenic, Sphynx cats may be less likely to provoke a reaction because they have no hair to shed. Regular baths can also reduce the amount of cat dander in the home. While no breed is completely non-allergenic, as the Fel D1 protein in the cat's saliva is what causes allergies, the Sphynx can be easier to keep due to lack of fur.

2. Serval 


There's something exciting about having an unusual pet, and if you love cats, you might be tempted to add a special breed of cat to your home. The serval cat is strikingly beautiful, athletic, and highly intelligent. But this African wild cat requires a large commitment from its two-legged parents. You must create a secure outdoor enclosure for this exotic cat. They also need a warm environment year-round, too.

African serval cats are small, slender cats with long legs, a lean body, a short tail, and a small head. Their scientific name is Leptailurus serval. Many are attracted to their adorable, large ears but living with this exotic pet may bring some challenges.

3. American Curl

They are known for their elfish curled ears! The American Curl was publicly recognized as a breed only in 1983. These cats are rarely found today, but they are loving, adaptable, and curious nature of the breed.

4. Cornish Rex

Domestic cat breed the Cornish Rex on white background

This breed originated in Cornwall, England in the 1950s, with a cream-colored cat who was covered with curls so tiny he resembled a miniature lamb. As he grew, he developed the long legs, narrow head, and bat ears that would become hallmarks of the Cornish Rex breed. His offspring were eventually bred with Burmese, Siamese, and British Shorthair cats to create a broader genetic base.

Today, the Cornish Rex have dense coats with tight curls, a curved profile, large bat eats, and arched bodies similar to that of a Whippet dog. The feeling of their wavy fur has been compared to velvet, lamb, rabbit fur, or silk, but it truly is something that is impossible to describe - you just have to feel it for yourself!

5. Ocicat


Who doesn't want a cat that looks 'wild' yet is sociable and friendly! The Ocicat's coat features areas of tawny, chocolate, cinnamon, blue, lavender or fawn, which has a silver or nonsilver background. The wild look is just a façade though! He's the result of crosses of Abyssinians, Siamese and American Shorthairs and his spots lend him an exotic air. 

Check out these cool facts we learned from Vet Street about the Ocicat:

  • The Ocicat is covered with large, thumb-shaped spots arranged in a classic bullseye pattern.
  • This is a large, active cat whose body screams "Athlete."
  • He is solid and muscular, and his short, tight, spotted coat fits like Lycra.

6. American Bobtail

American Bobtail cat
Cat Breed Selector

These cats were bred to look like a domestic version of the wild bobcat, and were developed by breeding cats with genetically short tails. American Bobtails are relatively big cats and can be many different colors and patterns, according to the Cat Fanciers' Association.

The American Bobtail can be shorthaired or longhaired and don't need much extra grooming besides an occasional bath and brushing. They live between 11 and 15 years.

7. Abyssinian Cat

These Abyssinian cats are considered ticked tabbies.

Abyssinian cats tend to love both people and other animals, according to Hill's Pet. These cats are loving and affectionate, and while they're independent enough to enjoy playing alone, they also appreciate having their owners involved in playtime.

Because Abyssinians are so social, they do best in an environment with company. If you'll often be at work all day, consider getting a second cat to keep your Abyssinian happy.

8. American Wirehair

American Wirehair

The American Wirehair Cat is considered a national treasure.

There are so many interesting facts about this beautiful cat! The American Wirehair is known as a very pleasant cat to have as a companion, and also requires "almost no brushing." 

  • The Wirehair's coat is distinguished from other breeds by its wiry, dense coat that is described as feeling like steel wool.
  • Wirehair has a relaxed, loving, sweet personality, making her an ideal companion for families with children 6 and older and having other pets.
  • This cat's coat may look high-maintenance, but it requires almost no brushing or combing except during the spring when old-growth sheds.

9. Korat

Rarest.org said that the Korat is an ancient breed from Thailand and the earliest known records of the cat in The Cat-Book of Poems or Smud Khoi of Cats, which was written during the Ayudhya Period of Siamese History.

"Korats only come in one color, described as a silver tipped blue. It is believed that Korats were first shown in England in the 1800s, but were entered as solid blue Siamese cats. The first known pair of Korats in the West were imported to the United States in 1959."

10. Turkish Van

PetCareRx says the Turkish Van was brought to the U.S. from Turkey in 1982.

"Today, these cats are still recognized as regional treasures, and are not readily available. The owners who do get their hands on a Turkish Van will find themselves with a playful and energetic cat who loves to swim! Yes, you read that right -- a swimming cat. The coat of the Turkish Van has a unique cashmere-like texture."

These rare cat breeds all have unique features. Some are considered good luck and others are just known as normal house cats. Some rare domestic cat breeds we missed are the Egyptian Mau.

Do you or anyone you know, live with a rare cat? Please comment below! 

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10 Rare Cat Breeds: Servals, Turkish Vans and More!