The vast majority of cat owners have, what are known as Domestic Shorthairs or Domestic Longhairs. These names aren't breeds, per se, but rather a designation that the cats are descendants from many different breeds. In the United States, these mixed cats make up 95 percent of the cat population. This article is about that remaining 5 percent of cats, purebred and pedigreed, that are recognized by organizations like the International Cat Association as distinct breeds. Unsurprisingly, these represent not only some of the most popular cat breeds in the United States, but also the most expensive cat breeds on Earth.
The British Shorthair is one of the most iconic and popular cat breeds in the world as well as the inspiration for the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. The pedigreed version of the common British house cat, the British Shorthair costs anywhere from $1,000 to just under $2,000. For your money, you receive a friendly, chunky cat with a handsome blue-gray coat. British Shorthairs make excellent family pets due to their easygoing disposition, but they are prone to becoming overweight unless cat owners take care with their diet.
Continuing our tour of cats from the United Kingdom, we come upon the Scottish Fold. This breed is quite similar in appearance to its cousin, the British Shorthair, but one distinctive feature separates the two breeds. Scottish Folds are affected by a gene mutation that alters the cartilage in their ears. As a result of this mutation, their ears are permanently folded forward and downward. In the most extreme cases, the ears are practically flush with the head like a cap, giving the cat an owl-like appearance. This unique appearance, coupled with the breed's reputation for being extremely friendly and loving, means Scottish Folds fetch a pretty penny. A young Scottish Fold is valued in the upper $1,000s, while kittens are considerably higher.
...Your guess is as good as mine as to why this cat is so valuable. The Sphynx cat is an incredibly distinctive breed which, as you may have noticed, is completely bald. The unique, hairless coat makes them highly sought after by cat enthusiasts. Not only do these furless felines have a high base price—close to $2,000— they also require extensive and, often, expensive care. For example, the lack of fur makes it much more difficult for these cuties to keep clean. If you're in the market for one of the most expensive cat breeds around, be prepared to wash it at least once a week to remove any dirt or oil buildup on its skin.
This cat, with its breathtakingly beautiful coat, is not only one of the most expensive cat breeds in the world, it is also the second wildest cat on this list (stay tuned). The Bengal cat is a cross between a domestic cat and an Asian leopard cat, giving it gorgeous long legs, that leopard-esque coat, and a heck of a lot of energy. If you're thinking about owning a Bengal cat, you should make sure you have plenty of room for activities in your home, as well as the ability to spend plenty of time playing with your cat to satisfy its wild side. A day in the life of a bengal kitten must be something special.
The only cat wilder than the Bengal is the Savannah. This impressive breed is a cross between a domestic cat and an African Serval (another exotic breed of cats), meaning one of a Savannah's parents is a straight-up wild cat. First generations can grow to be up to 20 pounds, and behave more like dogs than other cats. These honorary good boys are loyal pets and will follow their owners around the house. Savannah cats can be trained to do a number of things, including being taken for walks and fetching. These truly impressive cats come at a hefty price, however: Savannah cats often sell for as high as $20,000!
At first glance, the Peterbald appears to be quite similar to the Sphynx breed. Though they are both hairless (well, mostly hairless), they are actually completely unrelated. The Sphynx originated in North America in the mid-20th century, while the Peterbald is a Russian breed, first created in 1994. The Peterbald is larger than the average Sphynx, but both breeds share an affectionate, energetic disposition. An important distinction is that the Peterbald isn't actually bald. In fact, it has a full coat of very short, very fine fur.
If the hairless cat breeds on this list aren't doing it for you, then you may be interested in the Maine Coon, which falls on the opposite end of the spectrum. This New England-native cat, known as the "Gentle Giant," is fiercely loyal, quite intelligent, and, most importantly, fluffy as all heck. Their heavy fur coat allows them to thrive in the harsh winter environments like in Maine, where the breed originated. The Maine Coon is the largest breed of domestic cat, and one of the most expensive cat breeds, with prime specimens selling for upwards of $3,000.
The Persian cat is one of the oldest and most popular breeds in the world. Today characterized by its distinctive flat nose, this breed originally had a longer, more typically-shaped nose. The breed first appeared at the world's first cat show in London, in 1871. The Persian cat can, however, trace its ancestry back as far as Iran (aka "Persia") in the early 17th century. The flat-nosed appearance, or "peke-face," first appeared as a mutation in the 1950s and continues to be popular among show cats. A purebred Persian cat can cost in the neighborhood of $2,000–$3,000, and is second in popularity only to the "Exotic Shorthair" breed.
The Exotic Shorthair is currently the most popular cat breed in the world. Interestingly, this breed is actually a descendant of purebred Persians mated with American Shorthairs in order to produce a short-haired version of the iconic Persian cat. Today, the latter is often referred to as the "Persian Longhair" in order to emphasize the biggest difference between the two breeds. The similarities between Persians and Exotics has actually caused some disagreement between various cat-fancy organizations: the International Cat Association recognizes longhaired variants of the Exotic breed as Persians, while the American Cat Fanciers Association registers them as a unique "Exotic Longhair" breed.
As suggested by its name, the American Wirehair cat is defined by the wiry, springy fur that covers its entire body, including its ears and whiskers. This breed is essentially a random mutation of the common American Shorthair, making it the rarest out of all 41 breeds recognized by the Cat Fanciers' Association. The American Wirehair is extremely similar to the American Shorthair in terms of size, temperament, and lifestyle, with the only real difference being the unique coat that Wirehairs develop. Wirehairs generally sell for around $1,000–1,200, but the recent drop in their population may cause that number to skyrocket.