18 Extremely Rare Cat Breeds & Crosses

Some cat breeds are so rare, you probably haven't even heard of them! At least not yet.

Updated January 14, 2024

If you're the type of person who marches to the beat of your own drum, you might find yourself drawn to the world of unique and rare cat breeds. It's pretty unlikely that you'll see these kitties in the veterinarian's office or at a friend's house, but they're super fun to look at online. And if you're searching for your next pet, one of these rare cats might just be the perfect fit. That is, only if you're lucky enough find one...

Need to Know

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the rarest of them all? It's hard to say for sure which cat breed is the rarest, but these 10 breeds and eight crosses are extremely uncommon and hard to find. 

Highlander Cats


The highlander is a newer cat breed that still isn't very well known, but it's slowly increasing in popularity. One of the coolest things about these cats, aside from their adorable curled ears and spots, is the fact that they act like dogs. Highlanders will often follow their owners around and even play fetch. 

Their breed development started in 2004 and was created by crossbreeding a highland lynx and a jungle curl cat, which is another hybrid breed. Since they have wild feline genes, these rare cats are a bit larger than some other breeds. Highlanders can have either short or long hair and just about any variation of colors imaginable. 

Lykoi "Werewolf" Cats


The lykoi cat is a really unusual breed that was developed from a naturally occurring mutation found among some feral cats. As you can see, the mutation gives the cat the appearance of a werewolf. Lykois have a roan color coat, and the most popular color is black roan, although they can come in other colors and patterns. 

The lykoi was accepted into the Cat Fanciers Association in 2023 and can compete on the championship level. Only about 100 registered lykois are available internationally. Talk about rare! 

Fast Fact

The name "lykoi" means "wolf" in Greek. 

American Wirehair Cats


Are you looking for a rare cat breed that was born and bred in America? You may want to check out the American wirehair. Like their name suggests, these cats have fur that's coarse and wiry. 

The breed was founded in the state of New York in 1966 when some barn cats were born with mutations in their fur. The American wirehair is so rare because their mutation hasn't been discovered in any other area of the world, making this cat truly unique and truly American. 

Havana Brown


Despite their name, Havana brown cats aren't from Cuba. They're actually related to siamese and Russian blue breeds, which British cat breeders crossbred in the 1950s. Their name comes from their chocolate coat's resemblance to a Cuban cigar. 

So, what makes this cat breed rare? It's believed that there are less than 1,000 Havana brown cats in existence today! If you're interested in adopting one, just be aware these cuties are known to be highly intelligent cats that need tons of attention and human interaction.

Korat Cats


The rare korat cat breed hails from Thailand and is considered a very lucky cat in their native country. They are also one of the world's oldest cat breeds. Like the Havana brown breed, the korat's short coat comes in one color, which is a bluish-grey shade with silver tips that looks super shiny as the cat moves. 

It's believed that korat cats take a little longer than most other breeds to mature. Some even say their brilliant emerald green eye color can take up to 4 years to develop. Korats are difficult to obtain outside of their native home, but they make quiet, sensitive pets.

Khao Manee Cats


The khao manee might look like your average white housecat but trust us when we say they’re super rare. The breed originated in Thailand and what makes them special is their eye color.

They can have blue eyes, gold eyes, green eyes, or different-colored eyes, which is referred to as heterochromia. Naturally, khao manee cats with odd eyes are the rarest of them all. This breed is really hard to find outside of Thailand, but if you are lucky enough to locate one of these rare cats, know you’ll have to shell out some big bucks.

Fast Fact

Khao manee translates to “white gem,” and that describes these rare white cats to a T.

Peterbald Cat Breed


At first glance, the peterbald might be mistaken for a sphynx cat, but they're a lot more rare than the beloved Sphynx. This breed was created in Russia in the 1990s as a result of crossbreeding the oriental cat and donskoy breeds. 

Peterbalds can range from 70% hairless to completely bald and need regular baths to keep their skin healthy. They're hard to find primarily because they're not as popular or well-known as other hairless breeds, but we don't understand why, because these cats have a  reputation for being very affectionate and are great cuddlers! 

RELATED: The Most Expensive Cat Breeds

LaPerm Cats


There are only four curly cat breeds out there, which makes any cat with curly hair pretty rare, but the LaPerm is the rarest of them all. The LaPerm has a naturally wavy coat that’s a result of a genetic mutation. They’ve only been around since the 1980s, so the breeding pool is still fairly small.

LaPerms can have short hair or long hair, which can range from waves to tight ringlets. With one of these cats, you can expect a very high-energy and curious companion who needs a lot of interaction.

Turkish Van Cats


Turkish van cats are fairly easy to find within their country of origin, but outside of Turkey, they’re absolutely rare. What makes this cat so special is their elegant appearance. This breed has a long, silky coat that comes in several different colors but white is the most common shade.

What makes them even more special is their affinity for water. Turkish vans earned their nickname the “swimming cat” because they actually like the water, unlike a lot of other breeds. Cool, right?

Nebelung Cats


You’d remember a unique cat breed name like nebelung if you heard it, wouldn't you? Odds are you probably haven’t heard the name because these cats are rare, as well as the new kids on the block. Nebelungs came about in the 1980s and are often referred to as a “long-haired Russian blue” because that’s what they look like. The breeds are closely related but not the exact same.

Nebelung cats have long bluish-grey hair and bright green eyes, so they’re easy to pick out in a crowd. That said, you definitely won’t find on in a crowd because they’re known for being super shy, quiet cats who would rather not be the center of attention.

Rare Hybrid Cat Breeds


Along with the list of rare cats that are recognized as unique breeds, there are plenty of rare hybrid cats and crossbreeds. Most have pretty distinct looks and you can tell right away what their parent breeds are, whereas others just look like adorable mashups. 

Why Some Cat Breeds Are So Rare


Some cat breeds are just rarer than others. If they're a newer breed or not quite as popular as others, they can be harder to find. Trends in the pet industry, demand, and even geographic distribution can contribute to a breed's rarity. If you have your heart set on one of these rare cat breeds, you'll have to be patient and do your research. Check out breed-specific cat rescues and national platforms like Petfinder. You never know what kind of cats are looking for their forever home! 

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18 Extremely Rare Cat Breeds & Crosses