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What is the most unknown cat?

Cats are one of the most popular pets in the world, with over 600 million domestic cats living with humans. However, while house cats like tabbies, Siamese, and Persians are well-known, there are many rare and lesser known cat breeds that are not as familiar to most people.

What makes a cat breed unknown?

There are a few key factors that contribute to a cat breed being relatively unknown:

  • Origin and history – Breeds that originated in remote regions or have obscure histories are less well documented and studied.
  • Small population – Breeds with very small populations tend to get less publicity and exposure.
  • Recent development – Newly developed breeds have not had time to gain widespread recognition.
  • Limited recognition – Breeds not officially recognized by major cat registries are less standardized and popularized.
  • Isolation – Breeds concentrated in very limited geographical areas remain obscure to most of the world.

Most unknown cat breeds

Here are some of the most mysterious, rare, and generally unknown cat breeds from around the world:

Kurilian Bobtail

This breed originated on the Kuril Islands north of Japan. They are medium-sized cats with a short, fluffy bobtail, and come in many color variations. First documented in the 19th century, they remain very rare outside their remote native islands.


A breed of curly-haired cats from India believed to have origins in Burma and Thailand. They have soft, puffy, lamb-like fur but their most distinctive trait is their curling tails that resemble corkscrews. Due to their obscurity, their population is extremely small.


Named after Napoleon Bonaparte, these short-legged cats originated in France in the early 20th century. Their torsos are normal but their legs are extremely short, giving them a unique appearance. They very nearly went extinct before a conservation effort revived the breed.


A wild-looking large breed of cat that originated in the U.S. state of Washington in the 1980s. They have bobbed tails, the coat pattern of a bobcat, and muscular, compact bodies. The breed nearly vanished in the 1990s but today its population remains small and limited.


Named for their white paws which resemble snowshoes, this rare breed originated in the U.S. in the 1960s. They have a Siamese-type coat pattern on their heads and tails but white feet set off against their other coloring. Fewer than 200 existed by the 1980s, putting the breed in danger before its numbers recovered.


A little known breed indigenous to the Sokoke Forest in Kenya. They have a distinctive medium-length coat with brown tabby-like ticking. Active and muscular, they have an appearance reminiscent of a small wildcat. Due to their limited native population, they are scarce outside of their region of coastal Kenya.

Turkish Angora

Believed to originate from central Turkey, Turkish Angoras are a longhaired white cat breed. Elegant and graceful, they have fine, silky coats and smoothly tapered tails. Despite being pictured in ancient artworks, they did not become known beyond Turkey until the late 20th century and remain rare globally.

Turkish Van

Like the Turkish Angora, this breed hails from central and eastern Turkey. Their most distinctive feature is their white coloration accented with reddish-brown patches on the tail and head. They also have semi-longhaired coats and love to swim. While known in their homeland for centuries, they have only recently drawn global interest.

Rarest of the rare cats

Some of the most obscure and critically endangered cat breeds include:

Breed Population Region
Andean Less than 200 South America
Brazilian Shorthair Less than 400 Brazil
Cymric Less than 100 Canada, U.S.
Ukrainian Levkoy Less than 1,000 Ukraine, Russia

These rare breeds are at the highest risk of vanishing entirely due to their extremely small populations concentrated in limited areas. They tend to to attract little attention from breeders and the general public.

The world’s most obscure cat

Based on available information about unknown cat breeds, a strong candidate for the title of “world’s most obscure cat” is:

The Andean Cat

Endemic to the high Andes mountains in South America, this wildcat has a population estimated at less than 200 adults remaining in the wild. It has short, silky fur that ranges from pale gray to brownish-yellow. A loner by nature, it inhabits the barren, rugged slopes above 13,000 ft elevation.

Some key facts demonstrating the extreme obscurity of the Andean cat:

  • Was not described by scientists until 1865
  • Less than a dozen photographs of wild specimens existed until 2002
  • Listed as endangered in 2002, conservation efforts only recently began
  • Has the lowest genetic diversity of any wild feline
  • Remains unknown even to most locals of the Andean highlands

While not a domesticated breed, the Andean cat’s critically small population and status as one of the least observed and studied wild cats in the world make it arguably the most unknown feline on earth.

Rediscovering obscure cat breeds

The increased attention from cat breeders and enthusiasts to preserve rare breeds has helped uncover and protect obscurer cats from fading away:

  • Advances in internet communications and knowledge sharing help expose unique regional breeds
  • Specialized breeding programs target small populations to increase their numbers
  • DNA analysis helps officially document new breeds and their origins
  • Cat shows and competitions highlight obscure breeds to draw interest
  • Breed-specific organizations form to promote overlooked cats

While some cats may always remain mysterious and little known due to their remote origins or dwindling populations, ongoing efforts by breeders and conservationists are helping to ensure fewer breeds slip into true obscurity and potential extinction in the future.


The world of cats includes some breeds and populations that are far more rare, unique, and unknown relative to popular domestic cats. Factors such as isolated origins, small numbers, and recent discovery contribute to certain breeds remaining obscure even to dedicated cat enthusiasts.

The Andean cat exemplifies an extreme case of an obscure feline, being virtually unknown beyond its remote mountain habitat. However, obscure cat breeds deserve recognition, and increased efforts to study, document, conserve, and promote threatened or rare cats can help bring them out of the shadows.