There are a number of unusual cat breeds, many of which have resulted from natural mutations. The following quirky cat breeds have unusual appearances, as well as atypical behaviors and personality traits in some cases.
The Sphinx breed, which began as a mutation in 1966 in Canada, is highly robust and usually suffers few health problems. Although thought of as hairless, the cat actually has a very fine down with the texture of a warm peach.
The Sphynx is a physically strong cat that loves attention. It is known to be curious and highly entertaining, and in some cases clumsy. It gets along well with people and usually other dogs and cats as well, and most don’t mind being bathed. Sphynx cats are less likely to provoke allergic reactions in people due to their very short fur.
The Sphynx is rare and breeders tend to have very long waiting lists, with the kittens in huge demand.
The American Curl
With fluffy tails and tufted ears that curl backward in a windswept look, the American Curl is very affectionate and energetic. Curls love people and usually get along with children and other pets, as well as handling new situations more easily than most cats. Rather than meowing, Curls tend to make trilling or cooing sounds. They are playful and kittenish well into adulthood.
American Curls are born with straight ears, which begin to curl back 3-5 days after birth and are fully curled after 16 weeks. Curls do not shed much and rarely require grooming.
The American Curl is a recent breed, discovered in 1981 in a stray with funny ears, which mooched some food from Grace and Joe Ruga in California. From this little female, the entire breed was born.
The Korat’s most notable feature is its enormous green eyes, larger than those of other cats. Korats have particularly powerful hearing, sight and sense of smell. Gentle cats, they are cautious and become anxious at hearing loud or harsh noises. They are so sensitive to sound that it is a good idea to keep a radio on near their sleeping place when they are kittens so that they can become used to it when young.
Korats are exceptionally loyal and affectionate and tend to be very gentle with children. Their silvery-blue-gray hair sheds less than many other breeds and so they are less likely to set off allergic reactions in people.
In Thailand, Korats are considered to be good luck. Giving a pair of Korats to a bride is believed to ensure a fortunate marriage.
With batlike ears, large inquisitive eyes and a triangular face, the Abyssinian is among the oldest breeds of cats known. It resembles the cats of ancient sculptures and paintings in Egypt.
Known to be extremely intelligent, Abyssinians, though not lap cats, are very people-oriented, sociable and curious. Extremely loyal and with a talent for training their humans to their own specifications, Abyssinians usually get along well with children and other pets.
Recognized as an official breed in 1966, the Ocicat, which resulted from matings of Siamese and American Shorthairs, looks just like a small wild spotted jungle cat. This large, active, athletic cat has short shiny fur and though not demanding or clingy, is very devoted to its humans.
Confident and adaptable, many Ocicats can travel comfortably with their owners, a rarity for cats. Because they are very sociable, they should not be left alone very often or for extensive time periods—it is a good idea to have another pet to keep the Ocicat company while its owner is at work.
Ocicats usually get on well with people and other pets, and are more trainable than cats of many other breeds. Ocicats have been trained to walk on leashes, fetch, respond to voice commands and follow household rules.
Ocicats can be found in many different colors, but all carry the distinctive wild spot patterns. This breed is quite long-lived, with many surviving up to 18 years of age.
Many cat lovers seek out unusual cats, such as those of the following assortment of quirky breeds.
The Scottish Fold
The Scottish Fold is the result of a mutation that occurred in 1961. The first Scottish Fold cat, Susie, was discovered on a farm in Scotland. Intrigued by the unusual cat which had flattened ears and a face like an otter, shepherd William Ross and his wife adopted one of Susie’s kittens.
A few years later, cat breeder and geneticist Pat Turner worked to develop the breed, overseeing a number of pairings to ensure that the genetic mutation became widespread. Because the flattened ear gene is dominant, if either of a kitten’s parents is a Scottish Fold, the kitten will also have folded ears.
Scottish Folds tend to have sweet, good-natured personalities and quiet voices, and usually live about 15 years. They should be bred with straight-eared cats, as breeding two folded-eared cats can cause a degenerative joint disease in the offspring.
The Maine Coon Cat
A wild-looking cat with pointed tufts on its ears and a bushy tail, many falsely believe that this breed is the result of matings between cats and raccoons. In reality, the Maine Coon is likely the offspring of shorthaired local cats and long-haired cats from overseas, such as those brought by the Vikings to North America.
A thick, water-resistant coat and large tufted feet that act as snow shoes make this cat well suited to harsh winter climates. Maine Coons tend to be very large, and continue to grow for the first 3-5 years of life, far longer than most cats. Gentle and usually laid back, they tend to maintain playful, kittenish qualities into adulthood. They don’t meow often, and when they do, it is an unusual chirping trill.
The Ukrainian Levkoy
This cat is hairless and has folded ears and a long, very muscular body. Levkoys have big eyes that often appear to be partially closed, as though the cat is tired, and wrinkled skin that is very soft to the touch. The Levkoy is very active and friendly.
The Cornish Rex
Looking like aliens with their slender bodies, pointy faces, wavy fur and enormous bat ears, Cornish Rex cats are enjoyable to pat because their fur feels like silk or velvet. The Cornish Rex sheds less than other cats as well.
Cornish Rex cats are extremely affectionate. They love people and tend to be very active and playful.
The Oriental Shorthair
The Oriental Shorthair is affectionate, playful and quick to purr. This breed is highly curious and needs a lot of attention.
Oriental Shorthairs, which have enormous ears, slender triangular faces and very long tails, can be found in more than 300 colors and patterns.
Information for this article was obtained from The Cat Fanciers’ Association, which provides detailed information on breeds, cat care and other cat-related topics.