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Unique and Unusual Cat Breeds

Thursday, May 17, 2012

When most people think of cats, they think of the big orange tomcat they grew up with or perhaps a classic gray tabby. Those of us who are “cat people” know just how many unique cat breeds there are, but even those familiar with cat breeds may not be aware of some of the more rare and unusual breeds.

Enjoy this list of unique, interesting and unusual breeds!

Photo Credit: catfacts.org

The Sphynx cat, or “hairless cat”, is probably one of the most “love it” or “hate it” breeds of cat out there. A lot of people find the odd hairless look a little disturbing, but some people think hairless cats are the cutest cats around! Although they’re known as a “hairless” breed, some actually have a downy fur covering their body. Sphynx cats have different “coat patterns”, too. Their skin can be pink, black, solid, spotted—you name it! Sphynx cats are a fiercely loyal breed, and require an owner who will give them a lot of love and attention. They also require someone who will bathe them regularly to keep their skin from becoming greasy. Sphynx cats are often described as feeling like a rubber hot water bottle! 

Photo credit: pictures-of-cats.org
Savannah Cat

The Savannah Cat is a new and controversial breed created by crossing a domestic cat and a Serval. Savannah Cats vary greatly in appearance, temperament and price depending on their breeding. An F1 (a first generation cross of a cat and Serval) is the most expensive and the most “wild”; with each outcross, the cost of the cat goes down because there is less Serval  in the cat. Savannah Cats are very large and maintain some of the “wild cat” characteristics like growling and hissing to communicate (unlike the normal kitty meow), the strong desire to be outside (many walk great on a leash!), and the occasional unfortunate aversion to using the litter box. Savannah Cats are definitely not a breed for everyone, and much research should be done on their special care requirements before considering one as a pet.

Photo Credit: lapermfanciers.com

LaPerm cats have soft, curly/wavy coats caused by a spontaneous genetic mutation. They first showed up in the early 1980’s in Oregon. They come in all coat colors and patterns, and are sometimes described as feeling like mohair. Though there are other breeds of rex or curly-coated cats, the LaPerm does not seem to be directly related. Despite the fact that the breed is only about 30 years old, LaPerm breeding programs now exist all over the world. LaPerm cats are considered to be more hypoallergenic than many other breeds, though there is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic cat. 

Photo Credit: acfacat.com
American Curl

The American Curl is another newer American breed, first noticed in the early 1980’s. They have ears that curl back towards the back of the head, caused by a genetic mutation of the cartilage. The curled ears do not cause any health or hearing issues for the cat, though they do require frequent cleaning. American Curl owners must be careful when handling the cat’s ears, as the cartilage can be easy to damage.  All American Curl kittens are born with straight ears, which begin to curl within the first 2 weeks. It takes about 4 months for the cat’s ears to reach their final curled shape, at which point they become stiff to the touch.

Photo Credit: aboutmunchkincats.com

There is only one way to describe the Munchkin cat- “low to the ground”! Due to a genetic mutation, Munchkins have short legs that give them their unique, short stature. Among breeders and cat fanciers, the Munchkin is a controversial breed. There have been disputes over the ethics of breeding a cat with legs as short as the Munchkin, and differing opinions on whether short legs can cause issues with mobility and the health of the skeletal system. So far it seems that Munchkins can run and jump as well as any other breed, and significant spinal and other skeletal afflictions do not appear common. The breed is recognized by TICA and other affiliated organizations, but the CFA does not accept the breed. Some countries have even outlawed the breeding of Munchkins for perceived ethical reasons. 

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