The most unique cats and rare breeds you’ve ever seen
The internet was made for cats. Why else would we need a worldwide instant connection than to look at cute cat pictures? Luckily, plenty of people share pictures of their particularly unique cats so everyone can marvel at their odd markings, beautiful patterns, or even unsettling looks. Take a look at some of the weirdest and most beautiful cats in the world.
1. Hamilton the hipster cat
Insta-famous Hamilton has a classic rags-to-riches story. He was a feral kitten, originally raised around no humans at all until he went to a shelter and got adopted by tech recruiter Jay Stowe. For the first month, he didn’t come out of the bathroom. But once he did, his path to stardom began.
Stowe took a few pictures of the mustachioed cat and posted them on Instagram. Soon enough, Hamilton had hundreds of thousands of followers and became a viral sensation, featured in newspapers that apparently had nothing better to write about. Hamilton is still shy from his feral days, so he doesn’t do any public appearances, but he does donate most of his earnings to charity.
2. The Harry Potter cat
Hairy Pawter here may look like she’s sleeping peacefully, but she might just be dreaming of The-Cat-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Unfortunately, she can’t tell us all about her adventures because we’ll just hear meowing. Did you know cats only meow to humans and not to other cats?
Cats use scent and body language to communicate with each other, but we humans aren’t receptive to their particular smells. So, instead, they’ve evolved to meow at us to get what they want. Many people learn to understand their cat’s meows because they do different ones depending on if they want food and attention or are just greeting you when you come home.
3. Lykoi: the werewolf cats
You might expect to see an animal like this howling at a full moon on a TV screen, not curled up on someone’s couch, but the Lykoi is ever surprising. The breed originated from a couple of feral cats that naturally had a genetic mutation giving them partial hair loss. They were bred together to make the first werewolf kittens in 2011.
Despite their ragged looks, Lykoi cats are actually quite soft. They just happen to lack an undercoat of fur, which makes them susceptible to hypothermia and sunburn if outside for long enough. Still, no one would be surprised if this cat suddenly turned into a human during the day.
4. The cat with a cat on its back
This cat’s shadow is apparently permanently attached to its back, giving it quite a unique marking and constant companion. Cats may not be the most social of animals, but they did find humans interesting enough to domesticate themselves and become our companions.
Yup, while our ancestors worked hard to breed the wildness out of cows, cats just decided to join us after they saw our farms attracted so many rodents. In fact, today’s pet cats aren’t wildly different from their wild ancestors; their DNA is nearly the same. Purrhaps the cats were just taking an ingenious step toward winning the evolutionary game of survival of the fittest.
5. The exclamation butt cat
Cats have long been associated with saucers of milk but (!) is it actually good for them? Most adult cats, just like most adult mammals, are lactose intolerant. Other than one exception (it’s us), mammals only drink milk when they’re babies and thus lose the ability to digest lactose (the sugar in milk) as they grow up.
So why do humans drink cow’s milk? Our DNA mutated, allowing many of us to digest milk. Some cats may do fine drinking milk or eating other forms of dairy that have less lactose, but it isn’t great for them. Cow’s milk evolved for cows to drink, not kittens.
6. Khao Manee cats
These beautiful smiling cats are called Khao Manee, or “white gem,” and they were considered sacred in Thailand. Any of the “odd-eyed” Khao Manees, meaning the ones with two different colored eyes, were considered good luck. Their eyes can be blue, green, or gold.
Khao Manees are also nicknamed “Diamond eye” because they have a starburst pattern around their pupils. Sometimes, Khao Manees are born deaf because the gene for white fur is often linked with a gene that causes their inner ear fluid to dry out. Khao Manee is a naturally occurring breed, so humans didn’t originally breed them to be this way.
7. Gary the concerned and confused kitten
This kitten appears to be perpetually concerned due to his perfectly angled “eyebrows.” However, while his namesake singer Gary Barlow was famous for raising his eyebrows during high notes, cats don’t really have eyebrows (other than some whiskers). So why do humans?
Well, human brows used to be a lot more protruded but then evolved to be smoother and easier to control. Scientists think we evolved eyebrows and smooth foreheads to communicate more effectively in our complex relationships. The muscles have more range and can be more expressive, so we can show a range of emotions with just the forehead.
8. Lilly the judgmental cat
Lilly was born on the streets of New Jersey, so its no wonder she has such a judgmental face. Of course, since this is just her fur color and they aren’t real angry eyebrows, don’t judge her in turn. She’s quite sweet and cuddly. However, despite how sweet her personality may be, she can’t taste sweetness.
Actually, no cat can taste sweetness because they don’t have the taste receptor for it on their tongues. Every other mammal that researchers have studied can taste sweetness, except for the meat-loving cats. The taste receptor is made from two genes in our DNA, but cats are missing a chunk of one of these genes.
9. The American curl breed
Once upon a time, a black stray cat with curled ears showed up at someone’s door. And, as anyone would do when presented with a strange cat, the homeowners decided to make a breed out of it. Thus, the American curl kittens were born. Luckily, their odd ears don’t give them any health problems and they aren’t horribly inbred, so the breed is generally healthy.
American curls have ears entirely made of cartilage like a human’s, instead of soft and flexible normal cat ears. At birth, their ears are straight, until they start to curl after a couple of days. And even though the cats certainly age, they keep their playful kitten personality throughout their lives.
10. The cat with the smiling back
This cat’s back may be all smiles, but cats themselves can’t communicate their happiness with us via a cute smile. You may think that your cat instead purrs when happy, but this isn’t entirely true. Cats purr in a variety of situations, like when in pain or when cuddling. So why do they do it?
Well, scientists aren’t entirely sure, but they do have an intriguing idea. It might be a method of healing since low-frequency vibrations apparently help build bone density. Purring is low enough in frequency that cats may use it to heal or maintain healthy bones while they lounge about for half the day. Most likely, cats purr for a few different reasons.
11. The Savannah cat
You’ve probably heard of wolfdogs, the hybrid offspring of wolves and dogs, but have you seen Savannah cats? They’re the wolfdogs of the cat world. People bred domestic cats with a wild species called a serval, which are characterized by their slender body and spots. They have long necks and large ears, which Savannahs often have, too.
In some states, first generation Savannahs, aka the cats who have one wild parent, are illegal to own. Where they are legal, they can cost over $15,000. However, as the first generation cat breeds with domestic cats and has kittens that do the same, they become cheaper to buy and more likely to be legal to own.
12. The Munchkin breed
While Savannahs are like wolfdogs, Munchkins are like corgis. Luckily, the cats’ flexible spines don’t give them the same back problems that short dogs have. However, if you breed two Munchkins together, a quarter of the kittens won’t survive, so you have to buy your cat from a responsible breeder who doesn’t do this.
Generally, if you get your cat from a good breeder, it will be healthy. And if you’re looking to get a Munchkin, you should know they can have any one of three different leg lengths: standard, super short, and rug hugger. Yes, you read that right. Rug hugger.
13. The black cat with the startling nose
This cat may look like someone was painting it and stopped when they got to the hard part around its nose, but it might actually have a skin condition called vitiligo. Don’t worry, it isn’t harmful. Dogs and humans can have vitiligo too, and basically, it’s just a progressive loss of pigment in the skin (and fur).
Often, it starts on the face. This black kitty may be gaining more white spots in the future (or rather, losing black spots). Usually, vitiligo is hereditary, so it’s passed from parent to child. On the next slide, you can see a picture of a black cat with vitiligo much more fully developed.
14. Scrappy the (not so) black cat
Scrappy was a little black kitten when his owner adopted him, but seven years later he started developing white spots. Vitiligo can affect all colors of cats, but it’s most obvious in black cats. Amazingly, the white spots can stay white, gain their color back, or go back and forth between the two.
Vitiligo happens when melanocytes, a type of skin cell that makes the pigment melanin, are destroyed or die. While vitiligo itself is harmless to the cat and usually caused by genetics, it can be caused by stress or an autoimmune disease. So if your cat (or dog) starts to develop white spots, take your pet to the vet to identify the cause.
15. The LaPerm cat breed
Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s a bad perm. Either way, you don’t normally see a cat with curly hair. The first LaPerm cat was named Curly (of course) and she was born on a cherry farm in Oregon. At first, she had no fur, but then she grew curls and became a regular Shirley Temple.
Curly’s parents had been domestic shorthairs, but a “rex mutation” gave her soft, curly fur, which she passed to multiple litters of kittens. There are a couple of other curly or wavy furred cat breeds with the same rex mutation that usually have “rex” in the name, like the Cornish Rex and Devon Rex.
16. Polly the kitten with “cat” spelled on her side
This little kitten has pawsibly the most unique markings of all: it looks like someone erased a chunk of her stripes and just wrote the word “cat” in place of them (we’re looking at you, Photoshop). Initially, her owners didn’t notice the word for three days, but once you see it, you can’t un-see it.
If her owners have children, Polly will be better at teaching the word “cat” than any picture book could. Hey, maybe Polly’s owners were sick of people thinking she was a parrot, so they labeled her to clear up any confusion. Let’s go with that.
17. The cat that wears its heart on his leg
You’ve heard of people wearing their heart on their sleeve, but this cat is such an open book that he wears it on his leg. Some people (aka people who don’t live with cats) think our feline friends have no care in the world for their human roommates, but science is here to prove them wrong.
Oxytocin has been called the “love hormone” because your body makes it when you’re with someone you love, but also when you meet someone or when you see a friend. It’s released in different quantities depending on how strong your relationship is with the person. Cats and dogs can make people produce oxytocin, but animals themselves make the hormone when around others they are connected with.
18. Valkyrie the human-faced cat
Alright, little Valkyrie here is purrobably the most unique out of all cats in the world. That’s not an exaggeration; her face is so unsettling and human-like. What exactly is it that makes her so odd looking? Well, it’s hard to say.
Her face seems to be flatter than your average cat; her muzzle is round rather than pointed. But it isn’t squashed like a Persian. Valkyrie just looks like a grumpy old man from a fairy tale or a maybe a gremlin. Perhaps her resemblance to a Furby is what’s really so disturbing. Either way, hopefully you can get over your gut reaction of “No.” and still love Valkyrie.
19. Venus the two-faced cat
Sometimes your unusual cat becomes a viral sensation, like poor unsettling Valkyrie, and sometimes your cat becomes an Instagram star. Venus the calico cat was lucky enough to go the latter route. However, no male cat could look like her because calicos and tortoiseshells are only female. Why is this? Well, it comes down to genetics.
A gene for fur color is located on the X chromosome, which females have two of and males have only one. In a female’s cells, however, one of those chromosomes is effectively turned off. Therefore, since cats have one gene on each X, and they can be different (like a black one and an orange one), only one of those colors is “turned on” in each cell. Thus, the cat gets a patchwork coat color.
20. The cat with a squirrel on its side
Take a second look at this photo and you’ll notice that the orange marking on it looks just like the profile of a squirrel! Plus, the cat’s bushy tail is already squirrel-like, perfecting the picture. Cats and squirrels are some of the smartest animals and cat brains are actually more similar to human brains than to dogs’. Cats are pretty good problem solvers but in some areas, their memory is lacking.
Specifically, cats don’t remember objects in their path for more than about 10 minutes. Scientists put hurdles in front of cats and stopped their front paws once they stepped over the obstacle. The researchers distracted the cat for a while and then let it continue walking to see if it remembered to raise its hind legs over the hurdle. After 10 minutes, the cat forgot the hurdle was there.
21. The cat with four eyes
We’ve seen cats with eyebrows, but this furry guy has something else above his eyes: an extra pair of (fur) eyeballs. They certainly give new meaning to the word “furball,” and perhaps other cats taunt him with the name “fur eyes.”
Have you ever wondered why cats have vertical pupils? Well, the vertical shape allows them to better control how much light gets into their eyes. Cats can change the size of their pupils with about a 200-fold difference in area, thus letting 200 times as much light in, while we can only change our pupil area by 15-fold. As a result, cats are much better at seeing in the dark than we are.
22. The cat with the heart nose
If this isn’t the most kissable nose you’ve ever seen, then you’re clearly crazy. But if you’ve ever spent time looking at cat noses, you have to have noticed the whiskers protruding out from either side. Cats actually have whiskers elsewhere, too, like above their eyes and on the backs of their legs. So what are they for?
Whiskers give cats a better sense of their surroundings, especially in the dark. A cat can understand the location, size, and texture of an object by having its whiskers brush against it. Plus, they come in handy when a cat is trying to gauge whether or not a space is too tight for it to fit through. And if that wasn’t enough, whiskers detect movement in the air which alerts them that something is approaching.
23. OMG! Benye the surprised cat!
Because of a small gray mark on her chin, Benye the cat looks perpetually surprised. But what is she so surprised by? Perhaps one of these interesting cat facts: one cat fell 32 stories onto concrete and survived (after a trip to the vet). A group of cats is called a clowder. Cats sleep for about 60% of their lives to conserve energy for hunting.
Blackie, the richest cat in the world, had $12.5 million after his owner left the fortune to him. Cats with more than the usual number of toes are called “polydactyl” and are nicknamed “Hemingway cats” because the author loved them and had several. Benye is probably surprised by at least one of those cat facts.
24. The Scottish fold breed
Scottish fold cats are one of the more well-known cat breeds because of their distinctive folded ears. All of them are descended from one cat, Susie, who lived in a barn in Scotland. She was born with a mutation in her cartilage that caused her ears to fold over, but once people started breeding her to make more Scottish folds, they found that the mutation affected more than just her ears.
While Susie had one copy of the mutated gene and one normal gene, Scottish folds with two mutated genes develop crippling arthritis early in life. However, all Scottish folds have bone development issues because it isn’t just the cartilage in their ears that the mutation affects. Many people want to ban breeding of Scottish folds because it’s just setting up the cats to have health problems.
25. The wildcat kitten with a cat-face on its forehead
While this kitten may look like your average domesticated tabby, it’s got two secrets: it’s actually an endangered Scottish wildcat and it’s got a second face on its forehead! As kittens, Scottish wildcats look a lot like our pets, but they will grow to about twice the size of a house cat. Plus, they have shorter tails with a distinctive black tip.
Scottish wildcats are a subspecies of the wildcat species, which our domestic cats are descended from. Wildcats live throughout Africa, Asia, and Europe and overall their numbers are decreasing. However, certain populations, like those in Scotland, are at a greater risk of disappearing than others.
26. The Japanese bobtail has a bunny rabbit tail
The Japanese bobtail is a symbol of good luck in Japan, inspiring both Hello Kitty and the famous figure of a welcoming cat with a raised paw. This breed is often white with colored blotches and always has a short, stumpy tail. Every cat has its own unique tail, which varies in length and curliness.
So how do these cats get along without their tails? They do just fine! Cats use their tails to communicate (like raising it high in greeting or puffing it up when threatened or excited) but this communication isn’t necessary for their survival in our homes. People also believe that cat tails help them with balance while hunting or falling.
27. The cross-eyed kitty
Cats learn to hunt from their mother at a young age. If they aren’t taught this crucial skill by the time they’re two months old, chances are the cat will never be a skilled hunter. Yes, they have certain instincts that drive them to stalk and pounce on their toys, but cats raised in homes will often lack the finesse to properly hunt.
However, in some places, like Hawaii, feral cats pose a huge threat to native birds. The island species did not evolve around predators like the cat and thus never gained the ability to avoid the danger. Locals and scientists in Hawaii are struggling to come up with a good solution to this problem.
28. The cat with a permanent snarl
While the permanent snarl on this cat’s face probably came from an injury or genetic mutation, it gives him a look that constantly says, “I’m angry!” Cats have a reputation for being aloof and uncaring, but this isn’t always the case. The problem is that cats are usually compared to dogs, but the two species are very different.
For example, cats are difficult to research because they are very territorial and attached to their homes, so they probably behave differently in a new setting (like a lab) versus when they are in a comfortable setting (like at home). While studies on cats in labs and unfamiliar settings certainly give some insight into cats, they aren’t perfect.
29. The calico kitten with floating eyebrows
What do cats think of us? One experiment looked at how cats and dogs behave in new environments, both with and without their owners. The scientists concluded that dogs look to humans for comfort in a new situation, like a child with her parents, while cats prefer to do their own thing.
So cats don’t necessarily seek comfort from their humans, but they do still have affection for their owners. Sure, not all cats show affection for people, but every cat is different. This study showed that cats are more independent than dogs and children, not that they are aloof and uncaring.
30. This striking brown and black kitty
Cat researcher John Bradshaw has spent hours watching cats and trying to understand their behavior. After all that observation, he’s come to the conclusion that cats just don’t really get us. Dogs clearly understand that humans are different from other dogs because they behave differently around humans versus dogs.
Cats, however, often treat humans just the same as another cat. They rub against us and groom us. The biggest difference is that cats meow to humans, but not to other cats. So who are we to them? More research is needed to answer this question because we certainly don’t understand cats well enough at this point.
31. The Burmese cat breed
This old man-looking cat is actually a chocolate Burmese. All Burmese cats are descended from one cat named Wong Mau who was from Burma, but later brought over to the United States by a sailor. He gave Wong Mau to a Siamese breeder, who then bred Wong Mau with Siamese cats to create the Burmese breed.
However, the breeder used inbreeding to keep the brown color in the cats. Some Burmese have darker faces, like this one pictured, while some are brown all over. Most Burmese are healthy, but they can have some health problems with their urinary tract, their eyes, and other parts of their bodies.
32. The Siamese breed
Siamese cats are characterized by their striking blue eyes and “pointed” coloration: a Siamese’s body is mostly light-colored, while their face, paws, tail, and ears are darker. These cats come in two types: show and traditional. The one pictured is most likely a traditional Siamese because it isn’t as skinny, lanky, and angled as the show Siamese are.
Curious and talkative, Siamese cats have a very strong personality. They can be frustrating, as they sometimes amuse themselves by turning on faucets and getting in places they shouldn’t be. If you’re looking to get a Siamese, you should know that the show Siamese might have more health problems than the traditional.
33. This pointed tabby
This beautiful kitty looks like a mix between a Siamese and a tabby shorthair. She seems to be “pointed” but with the tabby pattern instead of just a solid dark color. What is she looking at? Perhaps a human, since one research study found a new clue to answer the question of what cats think of people.
The study on cats had surprising results: when exposed to food, a toy, a smell, and human social interaction, most of the cats preferred the human over the other things. It seems pretty surprising that a cat would prefer socializing with a human over food, but there’s still plenty we don’t know about cats.
34. The Maine Coon breed
While this cat is not nearly as unique and shocking as Valkyrie, they are both the same breed: Maine coon. Maine coons are some of the largest domestic cats, as healthy ones can be up to 18 pounds. One myth about Maine coons is that they are crosses between cats and raccoons, but this isn’t true and is impossible.
Yes, some cat breeds are crosses between domestic cats and wild ones, like the Savannah and Bengal, but those cases are very different from a raccoon cross. The wild cats are still very similar genetically to domestic cats, so they can have offspring, while raccoons are different enough from cats that they could never have babies.
35. Ukrainian levkoy
This odd looking cat is a cross between the hairless breed Donskoy and the Scottish fold, so the Ukrainian Levkoy is hairless with folded ears. It’s a pretty recent breed since it was first started in 2004. The cat breed is named after the levkoy plant which has bent leaves, like the cat’s folded ears.
The Ukrainian Levkoy has been crossed with other breeds, like the famous and hairless Sphynx. They don’t have fur but they are actually quite soft and velvety. But since they don’t have any fur, they do need baths and don’t do well in the cold.
36. The Devon Rex breed
This funny-looking little Devon Rex is actually award-winning; his name is Jago and he won best in breed at the Supreme Cat Show in England. Like the LaPerm, Devon Rex cats have the rex mutation that makes their fur curly. Generally, they have large ears and eyes, with a playful and social personality.
According to the Cat Fanciers’ Association, they are loyal like a dog. They’ll eat with you, sit on your shoulder, and follow you around. Devon Rex cats usually get along well with children and other pets. The first natural Devon Rex was born in the 1950s and people made it a breed from that.
37. The kitty with a black hole nose
This kitty looks like a Picasso painting with how the triangle-shaped spot on his nose is just slightly off center of his real nose. And while the cat’s expression may make it look uninterested in people, a recent study suggests cats aren’t as aloof as their reputation says they are.
The researchers conducted an experiment where they put a cat in a room with a person ignored them and then who called to them and pet them. They found that cats simply like to interact with people who pay attention to them. If a person ignores the cat, it won’t socialize with that person. They figured what cats really like is a choice to interact or not.
38. The odd-eyed kitty with a black mark
Does your cat ever come when called? Scientists did a study on cats to figure out if they actually know their names or not. They read the cats a series of words and mixed in the kitty’s name. Watching for any changes in behavior, they noticed most of the cats perked up when they heard their names.
The researchers concluded that cats can distinguish between their name and other words. A cat likely associates its name with playing, food, or getting pets. Does a cat understand its name is, well, its name? Perhaps not, but this study can’t say one way or another.
39. Raffles the Maine Coon
With a spade-shaped face marking and crazy whiskers, Raffles the Maine Coon showed off at the Cat Fancy’s Supreme Championship Cat Show in England. But while his white mark may be out of his owner’s control, his personality might be highly affected by his owner.
One study found that owner personality, based on the big five traits (neuroticism, conscientiousness, agreeableness, openness, and extraversion) affects cat behavior. Owners higher on the neuroticism scale often reported their cats having more behavior issues. This relationship is fairly similar to parent-child relationships, in which high neuroticism in parents is associated with lower wellbeing in children.
40. The judgy kitty
This kitty looks distinctly upset with everyone — maybe it’s how he’s being fed. Before they were domesticated, cats spent most of their time either sleeping or hunting for food. Now that they live in our houses, they don’t have to hunt anymore and they’re kind of at a loss for what to do.
This may be why cats are killing way too many birds; they just want something to do. One solution to this boredom is to use food puzzles. They can be any object, homemade or bought, that contains food that the cat has to work for. One study said as many as 30 percent of cat owners use food puzzles.