19 Most Popular Cat Breeds In The World

What are the most popular cat breeds? Across the world millions of cats are kept as companions and treated like family. We look at what cat breeds are the most popular and give you an introduction to each.

Danielle DeGroot

Last Updated: March 6, 2024 | 14 min read

Group of different cat breeds sitting together on a white background

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Cats are very popular pets. Millions of people worldwide share their lives with feline companions and would not have it any other way. Not every cat person is a fan of every breed, though; some are much more popular than others. A commonly asked question is, what are the most popular breeds of cats?

Regarding cat breeds, some cat parents have no preference about the breed, and others have a specific breed they like to stick with. Some owners even prefer a Moggie, which is a cat with no pedigree. When it comes to the most popular breeds, there are a few different lists.

People like certain breeds for various reasons: appearance, personality, size, allergies, and so on. We looked at the info and came up with this list of the most popular cat breeds. Let’s get right into it and discuss the most popular cat breeds.

We looked at information from the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), an international organization that recognizes and registers purebred felines. Breeds that are not recognized by the CFA are considered domestic. An additional designation exists, hybrids, though few breeds like the Sphynx and Savannah, fall into this group. The CFA annually lists its most popular breed list, using the information on the breeds registered with it.

Along with the CFA, there are other ways to determine the popularity of cat breeds. Different organizations use internet search data to determine the most searched cat breeds in every state of the United States.

What Are The Most Popular Cat Breeds?

Below are the most popular cat breeds ranking from the CFA for 2021, data released in February 2022.

  1. Ragdoll
  2. Maine Coon Cat
  3. Exotic
  4. Persian
  5. Devon Rex
  6. British Shorthair
  7. Abyssinian
  8. American Shorthair
  9. Scottish Fold/Companion Cats
  10. Sphynx

Most Popular Cat Breeds In The World

We jump in and discuss each of these incredible breeds.

1. Ragdoll

Ragdoll with mouth open
Ragdolls have semi-long to long fluffy coats, known for being remarkably soft.

The Ragdoll is consistently a popular breed around the world. They are large in size and extremely affectionate. They also do very well with children and dogs, making them a perfect pick for a family pet. Ragdolls reach 12 to 20 pounds on average. They measure between 16 and 21 inches long, not including the tail, and stand 13 inches tall at the shoulder. They also have a ruff of fur that is longer around their thick necks, which makes them look even larger. Raggies can come in many different colors and patterns.

Ragdolls are an American breed of cat that originated in California in the early 1960s. They also have the nickname of floppy cats due to their habit of going completely limp when picked up. Floppy cats have a reputation for being very smart, quiet, highly amicable, easy to train, and extremely docile. These purr babies rarely even meow. Raggies are quite intelligent and love to play games. Ragdolls live, on average, 12 to 17 years. Ragdolls are popular as purebreds and in different feline mixes, including the Ragdoll Siamese, Persian Ragdoll, and Norwegian Forest Cat and Ragdoll mix.

2. Maine Coon Cat

Main Coon Yawning
These hefty kitties are native to New England.

Maine Coons are another large-bodied breed. They were likely bred from vermin chasing kitties that made their way there on explorer’s ships, then naturally bred with other felines. This natural process created the mighty Maine Coon, which serves as the official State cat of Maine. There is a lot of legend and lore surrounding this breed, including the myth that they are a crossbreed of domestic felines and wild animals like raccoons or bobcats due to their long, very bushy, ringed tails. Neither of those mixes is biologically possible. Another myth about the breed says that they originated from royal pets that belonged to the fated French queen Marie Antoinette and managed to escape her sad fate.

Maine Coons are also called the gentle giant due to their incredibly friendly nature. These guys are generously sized and reach 9 to 25 pounds on average. They stand about 16 inches tall at the shoulder and stretch 30 to 40 inches in length. Maine Coons live between 12 and 15 years. The gentle giant stands out for its remarkable appearance. They grow a long time and only reach full size once they are about three years old. Gentle giants have large, square-shaped heads with huge wide-set eyes. This breed often has heterochromia, meaning one blue eye and another colored eye. They are well known for their large, wide, erect, tufted ears. A thick, shaggy ruff of fur around their necks and a bushy, ringed tail gives them the look of a true wildcat.

3. Exotic

Exotic shorthair cat with white fur on a white background
Exotics have very flat faces, which gives them an incredibly adorable and unusual appearance.

Exotic cats have a very distinct appearance. They have noticeably short tails and legs, with huge round eyes. Exotics have thick necks and rounded heads with small ears, making their eyes look even more prominent. These cats have unique coats, thick undercoats, and soft, plush outer coats. Exotics were bred starting in the United States in the 1960s. They came about because breeders were interested in developing a shorter-haired Persian cat. Crossing Persians with American Shorthairs and sometimes Burmese created today’s Exotic cat. Exotics make fantastic pets, love to curl up on their owner’s laps, and have a bit more energy than their Persian relatives.

Exotics are of medium size, reach about 7 to 12 pounds on average, and reach 10 to 12 inches tall. They live around 8 to 15 years. They are playful, curious, and active but do not vocalize much. Exotics are very loving, lazy, and loyal to their people. With proper socialization and training, they get along well with other pets, including dogs, and are great kitties to have with kids.

4. Persian

White, long-haired Persian cat, Ragdoll cat lies comfortably on the lap and legs of a young woman and is petted and curled
Persians originated in the area of the world known as ancient Mesopotamia and Persia, which is modern-day Iran.

Persians are smaller, between about 7 and 12 pounds at full size. They reach between 14 and 18 inches long, which does not count the tail. Persians live between 10 to 15 years on average. Not only are they an incredibly popular feline companion, but these soft kitties are also an ancient breed. Specific breeding for today’s modern Persian cat began around the 1870s.

Persians have an intriguing appearance: a large round head, small ears, very large, bright eyes, full cheeks, and short noses. Their faces have a flat look. Persians are very smart, super agreeable, and carry themselves with a proud, elegant air. They have an almost musical meow and love attention but are not needy or pushy about it. These sweet kitties are content to cuddle and relax all day. They make excellent pets and very agreeable companions.

5. Devon Rex

Beard man in icelandic sweater is holding and kissing his cute curious Devon Rex cat
The Devon Rex is known to be highly loyal and grows attachments to certain people.

The Devon Rex is an incredibly fascinating breed of cat that originated in England in the 1950s. The CFA refers to them as “the Pixie of the Cat Fancy” due to their wildly intriguing looks. The Devon Rex has a wedge-shaped head, enormous eyes, short muzzles, and enormous, wide, low ears. The combination of this makes them look almost like an elf or a fairy. They are medium size and covered in soft, wavy fur.

They will do absolutely everything with you if allowed. The Devon Rex loves attention and stays playful throughout their lives. They even like other animals, including birds. The Devon Rex is a small breed, only weighing 6 to 9 pounds, and they stand 10 to 12 inches tall. This breed lives around 9 to 13 years on average. No other cat has the same coat due to a specific genetic mutation in the breed.

6. British Shorthair

British Shorthair cat with grey hair on a grey background
The British Shorthair is a kitty considered native to Great Britain and naturally developed through the breeding of domestic and feral kitties.

This breed is considered Great Britain’s oldest natural feline breed. British Shorthairs have medium to large bodies with huge round heads. Their eyes are set apart and round, with medium-sized rounded ears. British Shorthairs have a dense, short, single coat of fur. They can reach 9 to 18 pounds when fully grown. These kitties are relatively long-lived and have an expected lifespan of about 12 to 17 years. It is often said that this breed looks like teddy bears.

British Shorthairs like people but do not mind hanging out alone, either. They are not always happy to be held or passed around and prefer to seek attention on their terms. This purr baby is agreeable in nature, bonds closely with a few trusted people, and makes great companions. They can come in many different colors but are most popular in blue.

7. Abyssinian

Abyssinian cat sitting on blanket looking at the camera
This breed loves attention and is very outgoing but somewhat timid with strangers.

Abyssinians are known as one of the oldest breeds around. They have walked the earth for centuries. It is thought that they came from somewhere in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean coastal area. Abyssinians are one of few breeds to be called “ticked,” meaning they have a salt and pepper look. They look regal and ancient, like those animals of archaic lore.

Abyssinians are not large. On average, they weigh 6 to 10 pounds and stand 12 to 16 inches in height, giving them a slender, muscular, slim look. They are quite healthy and live 9 to 15 years. This breed has a very long, angular body with heavy muscles. They have wedge-shaped heads with huge, cup-shaped ears. Their coats are short, with a soft, silken feel, with ticked hair. Abyssinians can come in only four colors: red, fawn, blue, and ruddy, and often have bits of white fur on their faces.

8. American Shorthair

American Shorthair cat sitting on blue rug
American Shorthair kitties are bred to be hunters.

American Shorthairs are muscular, compact felines that weigh 8 to 15 pounds when fully grown. It is believed that the American Shorthair may have descended from cats on the Mayflower way back in 1620 or perhaps even a descendant of earlier explorers. In 1966 the breed was named the American Shorthair.

These cats look like several other shorthairs, and the only way to truly tell is to get a DNA test or acquire a kitty that comes with breed registration papers. American Shorthairs are low-maintenance and have incredibly easy-going, amicable, and friendly personalities. This breed is relatively healthy and has an average lifespan of 15 to 20 years.

9. Scottish Fold (Tie)

Scottish Fold Munchkin Cat laying down
Scottish Fold cats look quite distinctive due to a natural dominant gene mutation that causes their ears to have a folded appearance.

The Scottish Fold may be a popular breed, but it is challenging to find. The folded ears with large round faces and eyes give these kitties a striking look. This breed developed in the 1960s after a kitten in Scotland was born with folded ears. All Scottish Folds descend from this single ancestor. They are not ever bred together due to the risk of degenerative issues but are coupled with the American or British Shorthair.

Scottish Folds are pretty playful and get along well with children and other pets. They are highly affectionate and love attention but are not clingy. Folds bond closely with their trusted humans. Folds are generally quite sweet and quiet and highly adaptable to new situations. This kitty is most known for their unique appearance due to their tiny, folded ears. Scottish Folds are very small, weighing only 6 to 13 pounds when fully grown. They have an expected lifespan of 11 to 14 years.

9. Companion Cat (Tie)

A companion cat is a non-pedigreed domestic short hair or long hair feline. These animals are often from shelters. They are registered with the CFA as Companion Cats and compete in shows. They come in as a tie for the 9th most popular breed.

10. Sphynx

A cute tricolor Sphynx kitten with big ears sits on the owner's lap
This purr baby is covered in a silken, downy coat but does not have the thick coat of fur common among most other felines.

The Sphynx is a fairly new and very exotic-looking feline. They originated in Canada in the late 1960s and were initially called the Canadian Hairless cat. This breed is named after their appearance and similarity to the giant sphynx sculptures in Egypt. There is no genetic connection to Egypt, nor is the Sphynx ancient. They are small and weigh around 6 to 12 pounds when fully grown. Sphynx live around 8 to 14 years on average.

The Sphynx has one of the most striking appearances of any kitty you will see because they are naturally hairless. Their skin can carry pigment and pattern. The Sphynx has brilliant, large, almost almond-shaped eyes, remarkably long toes, and enormous, pointed ears. This guy is recognizable for having visibly wrinkly skin. These kitties have bold personalities, are incredibly intelligent, and love attention. The Sphynx is also one of the most vocal kitties around.

Most Searched Breeds In The United States

  1. Javanese
  2. Sphynx
  3. American Shorthair
  4. Birman
  5. Peterbald
  6. Exotic Shorthair
  7. Persian
  8. Russian Blue

Other Most Common Cat Breeds

11. Bengal

Bengal cat like a leopard sneaks
Though most pet Bengals are many generations removed, they still retain a wild appearance and high prey instincts.

Bengals are incredibly popular and stand out due to their being true hybrids. These kitties are the offspring of domestic cats bred with wild Asian Leopard cats. Bengals were originally bred in California in the late 1960s as part of pediatric leukemia research. Those same kittens became the start of today’s pets. These kitties have a unique appearance and look like tiny leopards.

The Bengal is one of the most intelligent cats with extremely high energy and a very active prey drive. They are medium to large-sized and can reach between 8 and 20 pounds. These kitties live around 9 to 16 years. They need a lot of exercise, training, and attentive owners, but can make good pets. Bengals are very popular due to their exotic look and history, though they are on the pricier side and not always easy to find.

12. Birman

The Birman is a medium-sized cat recognizable for its long body. They have roots in Asia, where they are highly regarded as sacred temple cats. The Birman has also been called the “Sacred cat of Burma.” Birmans have long silken coats that are white or pale cream. They always have pointed color point coats and have darker markings along the face, ears, legs, and tail. Birman kitties are not large and weigh 7 to 12 pounds on average. They live between 9 and 15 years. Birmans stand out for their gorgeous blue eyes.

The Birman is an incredibly smart kitty, as well as very personable. These cats really enjoy learning and constantly have an interest in new tricks and games. Birmans make wonderful family pets because they get along very well with children and other pets.

13. Bombay

Black Bombay cat with bright yellow eyes
Bombays are bred in both the UK and the United States.

Bombay cats stand out for their completely black coats. These felines are a cross of black-coated American shorthairs and Burmese. These kitties are distinctive because their coats are 100% black all over their bodies. This cat is bred to have a larger body and a more wild appearance, like a mini black panther. These kitties weigh around 8 to 15 pounds and have an expected lifespan of 12 to 18 years.

Bombays are quite social and known to be extroverts. They love attention and are not picky about who they get it from. This energetic pet enjoys playing games and can even be taught to do tricks and walk on a leash.

14. Javanese

The Javanese belong to a group of cats all bred with Siamese to create customized coats and looks. They originated in the United States and Canada. You could say these are designer felines. They have only been around since 2008. The Javanese kitty is slender and muscular with a fine bone structure. Like the Siamese, Javanese have long triangular-shaped heads with pointy ears. They also have a very vivid eye color. These kitties have medium-length coats that are silky, without any undercoats. The Javanese have color point coats and look like long-haired Siamese cats.

Javanese are small and weigh just 5 to 10 pounds. They live between 10 and 15 years. These cats are incredibly friendly and very smart. Javanese are also muscular and agile and need a lot of exercise. They like to be constantly active, both mentally and physically. The Javanese love people and will always want to be around their owners. They are incredibly vocal kitties.

15. Norwegian Forest Cat

Norwegian Forest Cat in snow
Also called the Skogkatt, Norwegian Forest Cats are quite beautiful.

Norwegian Forest cats are an ancient breed. They developed through natural methods and are likely a mix of many other long-haired felines. It is believed that their ancestors were companions to explorers on ships as far back as the 14th century. With thick, heavy double coats, they often seem much larger than they really are. They reach between 9 and 13 pounds, stand 12 inches tall, and are 12 to 18 inches long, not counting the tail. These kitties live about 14 to 15 years.

The Norwegian Forest cat is very sweet and docile and sometimes described as shy. Once they have built a bond with their humans, they get extremely affectionate and want to hang out with their people all the time. These kitties are playful and do very well with small children and other animals, making them great family pets.

16. Peterbald

Peterbald cats originated in Saint Petersburg, Russia. These are a cross of an Oriental Shorthair and a Don Sphynx. These kitties are naturally hairless felines that resemble the Sphynx. Peterbalds are very small and only reach 5 to 10 pounds when fully grown. Some are born bald, and others are born with fur. Even those born with fur often lose it when still very young. Peterbalds have wedge-shaped heads with large, pointy ears. One unique physical trait of this kitty is that they have webbed toes, meaning they can get a better grip on things like toys or snacks. They live about 10 to 12 years.

Peterbalds are incredibly smart and curious. They have a lot of energy and love to play. Some may even say they can be outright naughty. Peterbalds are very trainable and love playing games. These kitties adore attention and love to be around people. They are sometimes clingy.

17. Russian Blue

Russian Blue Cat licking paw
The breed is born with blue eyes that will eventually change to yellow and turn into a deep emerald green.

Russian Blues are a naturally occurring feline that is native to Russia. Little is known about their history, but they have been around remarkably long. One of the first appearances was at a cat show at London’s Crystal Palace in 1875, where a Russian Blue was exhibited and called an “Archangel Cat.” They have blue, gray, or grayish-blue coats with striking eyes. All true Russian Blues have green eyes with pink or lavender-colored paws. This is unusual as most kitties’ eyes darken as they age, not lighten.

Russian Blues reach 7 to 12 pounds on average when they reach full growth They love food, so sometimes they can pack on the pounds. These kitties live 15 to 20 years and are very healthy. Russian Blues are sweet, amicable, and friendly but somewhat reserved. Blues are not usually vocal or clingy and have a reputation for being well-behaved.

18. Savannah

Savannah cat laying on a black background
Savannah cats can be hard to find and quite expensive but is still very popular.

The Savannah cat is another true hybrid, a crossbreed developed from mating African servals with domestic felines. The Savannah is fairly new and has only been around since the 1980s. They were first recognized by the International Cat Association in 2012. Though a new breed, Bengals are very intriguing and have piqued the interest of many feline fans.

Savannahs can be tricky to keep as pets because they need a lot of attention and have incredibly high prey drives and hunting instincts. They reach between 12 and 25 pounds and live between 12 and 20 years. Savannahs are generous in size and very muscular. They have spotted coats and look like small cheetahs or leopards. They have unique faces due to their almond-shaped hooded eyes, which give them a very intense gaze. Another physical feature is that their back legs are much longer than their front legs, which can make them appear larger than they really are.

19. Siamese

Siamese Cat With Blue Eyes
Purebred Siamese will have almond-shaped blue eyes that appear somewhat slanted due to the wedged shape of their face.

Siamese cats are very popular pets and are elegant and quite extroverted. The Siamese is one of the original lines of pedigreed cats, and the CFA recognized them in 1906. They are recognizable for their unique appearance. Siamese kitties have elongated heads, flat faces, and long bodies. These kitties have color point coats and striking blue eyes. Siamese kitties reach between 6 and 12 pounds when fully grown and live between 7 and 15 years. They can be seal point, chocolate point, blue point, and lilac point coloring.

The Siamese kitty is well-known for being incredibly vocal. These purr babies are very smart and love to be around people. The Siamese cat is independent and has a stubborn streak. They make great pets and constantly keep owners on their toes.

Final Thoughts

Cats and humans have lived and coexisted together long throughout history. There is just something about these sweet animals that makes our own hearts purr. Some breeds are more popular than others, and many people have no preference. In fact, adopting rescue kitties and those of unknown breeding is rising in popularity. We have covered some of the most popular cat breeds around the world. Some may be popular because of their appearance, personality, or history. And some may just be varieties that people are curious about because they seem exotic. There are so many wonderful felines out there that it is almost impossible to list them all. We know there are plenty of adorable kitties that may not have made our list, so let us know in the comments if you have an idea we should add.

Man holding male cat next to woman holding female cat

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    1. Sadie Cornelius

      Carole, thanks for letting us know, we’ll add them to the list for next time and possibly do a review of this breed too!

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