Donna shares insider tips about your pets gained through exclusive interviews with industry experts.
The Top Cat Breeds
Dogs may be a man’s best friend, but humans are a cat’s best friend. If you doubt that, just ask a cat. Or, in the words of Ellen Perry Berkeley, author and feral cat expert, “As every cat owner knows, nobody owns a cat.”
The five most popular cat breeds are:
- Maine Coon
Read on to learn why they're so popular and how we can become their best friends.
1. Persian Cats
Persian cats top the list of the most popular cat breeds, and experts consider them one of the oldest documented cat breeds dating to the 1600s.
Their roots are in ancient Persia, where their ownership was reserved for the religious and the royals. The breed was introduced into the United States in the 1800s and quickly became popular.
Persians are extremely high-maintenance cats in terms of grooming due to their thick, dense coats, but they more than make up for that inconvenience with their loving personalities and gentle temperaments.
They are good family pets, excellent lap cats, and are nicknamed “lounge lizards” by cat lovers. Unlike most cats, which are accomplished jumpers, Persians rarely jump because of their heavy-boned legs.
Regulation coat colors for the breed are:
The average adult Persian weighs about nine to twelve pounds.
2. Maine Coon Cats
Maine Coon cats are considered by most to be the Native American longhaired cat.
Bred to standards for a breed needing to withstand harsh climates, they are well suited to thrive in their native state of Maine and are the Maine state cat.
Adult cats range from nine to 18 pounds; males are larger than females, and the breed is often nicknamed “gentle giants.”
They are average maintenance pets in terms of grooming; good companions but not highly affectionate. The breed is known for its distinctive voice and playing catch or retrieving games with owners.
Highly intelligent, good mousers, and easy-going in temperament, the Maine Coon cat is a highly sought out pet.
While they are a hardy breed, before you get one, it is a good idea to research the common health problems of Maine Coon cats so you can make a better decision.
The breed was officially registered and recognized in 1980. Coat colors and patterns are:
- Basic colors
- Tortoiseshell/tabby pattern effects,
- Smoke or shades
- Ticked tabbies, and so forth
3. Exotic Cats
Exotics look extremely familiar to most people, and they should. Imagine a Persian with short hair, and you have the exotic cat.
Bred to Persian standards for eye, nose, chin, and so forth, but outcrossed to produce a dense “teddy bear” coat, rounded body, and adorable pushed-in face.
These lovable lap cats are extremely popular and make good family pets.
Nicknamed the “lazy man’s Persian,” exotic cats are low maintenance in terms of grooming, and good-natured and affectionate with the males being the most affectionate.
The breed was recognized by the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) in 1967. All coat colors are acceptable and cover a wide range of hues from cameo tabbies to tortoiseshells to pure white and so forth. Adults weigh between six to 14 pounds, with females being smaller.
4. Abyssinian Cats
Persians may be the world’s oldest and the most popular cat breed, but Abyssinians are known as the smartest breed.
In fact, they are often referred to as the “border collie of the cat world,” according to Cats 101.
While you probably would not train an Abyssinian to herd sheep, you might want to train your pet for CFA feline agility sports.
The exact breed origin is unknown, but the modern-day Abyssinian bears an uncanny resemblance to drawings discovered in ancient Egypt of cats. The breed arrived in the United States in the 1900s.
This affable breed is nicknamed the “clown of the animal kingdom,” and they are excellent family cats and extremely low maintenance in terms of grooming. Adult cats weigh from nine to sixteen pounds, and accepted coat colors are:
- Tabby ticked
While not the smartest or the oldest, Siamese do have a breed trait that sets them apart from the others. Siamese are known as the most vocal of cat breeds, quick to voice both happiness and displeasure.
The breed originated in Thailand, and like its relative, the Persian, ownership of the Siamese was reserved for monks and the royal families.
Siamese are good pets and require very little in the way of grooming. They are instantly recognizable due to the distinct “points” or darker fur on the extremities of the body. Siamese cat coat colors are:
- Lynx point
- Seal point
- Blue point
- Chocolate point
- Lilac point
- Red point
- Tortoiseshell point
Adults average between five and ten pounds when full-grown.
Popular Pets and Their Celebrity Owners
Most people are fascinated by the doings of the rich and famous, so let’s take a quick peek at some famous people who currently own or have owned one of the five most popular cat breeds. Each celebrity is listed along with the name of their cat(s).
Celebrity Persian Owners
- Raymond Chandler (author): Taki
- Florence Nightingale (nursing pioneer): Bismarck, Disraeli, and Gladstone
- Thomas Hardy (author): Cobby
- Queen Victoria: White Heather
- Beverley Coney Heirich (author): Perpetua
- Kim Bookout (Starting Over, television series): Snowy
Celebrity Maine Coon Owners
- Gene Shalit (movie/book critic): Fellini
Celebrity Abyssinian Owners
- Robert Bigelow (real estate): Taxes, Mortgage, and Writeoff
Celebrity Siamese Owners
- Vivien Leigh (actress): New Boy
- James Dean (actor): Marcus
- Former President Jimmy Carter: Misty Malarky Ying Yang
- Beverley Nichols (author/composer): Numbers One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Seven, and Eight (aka Oscar)
- Frank Bruno (boxer): Samson
- Former President Rutherford B. Hayes: Siam (who was a celebrity in his own right – the first Siamese in the United States)
- Snoop Dogg (musician): Miles Davis and Frank Sinatra
- Former President Gerald Ford: Shan
References and Resource Materials
Animal Planet, Cats 101, “Popular Cat Breeds,” accessed 07/10/2010
Fanciers.com, “Maine Coon Cat Profile,” accessed 07/10/2010
Cat Fanciers’ Association, www.cfainc.org
Abyssinian Cat Association, “A Brief History of the Abyssinian Cat,” Caroline Macauly, accessed 07/13/2010
Citizen’s Lunchbox, “Index of Famous People’s Cats,” accessed 07/13/10
Cat Writers, Ellen Perry Berkeley profile, accessed 07/13/2010
© 2012 Donna Cosmato
Which of These Cat Breeds Is Your Favorite?
Zoona on August 18, 2020:
The persian cats of course!!!!
Hidden Identity on July 14, 2019:
Your reviews are very informative . BTW i love persian cats.
tacocat20 on February 25, 2019:
The Maine Coon kittens are so cute!!!!
anonymous cat lover on February 12, 2019:
Thank you for showing the cute pictures.
norlawrence on August 04, 2016:
Great article. Pictures are gorgeous.
Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on June 29, 2012:
Thanks for commenting, Peggy! I'm glad you liked this feline fancy hub:)
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 28, 2012:
Very interesting hub about the 5 most popular of cat breeds. Our two resident cats are of unknown variety but one definitely has some Siamese in him I would guess because of his vocalizations. That is Dusty...our Top Cat...who has his own hub. Both of our cats keep us entertained on a daily basis! Enjoyed learning something about these breeds. Voted up, useful and interesting.
Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 02, 2012:
Hi Lisa! Thanks for sharing about the vocal abilities of those wonderful Siamese:) I wonder if that is why Disney chose to use that particular breed in the movie "The Lady and the Tramp?"
lisa42 from Sacramento on February 02, 2012:
Very interesting! I never would have guessed that these were the top cat breeds. We have a Siamese and I can definitely attest to the fact that he is the most vocal feline we've ever owned!
Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on January 11, 2012:
Thank you, Eddy! It's always a pleasure to hear your sweet sentiments on my writing. Best wishes to you today as well.
Eiddwen from Wales on January 11, 2012:
Oh what a beautiful hub and one for me to vote up up and away.
Thank you so much for sharing.
Take care and enjoy your day.
Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on January 06, 2012:
Thank you for sharing about your wonderful Persian Tinsel, rosemay50. I've never owned a Persian but they always look so gorgeous in pictures that I would love to have one someday, but I'm just not sure I could devote the time to grooming one that they would need. Your comment really reinforced that to me so I guess I will continue to admire them from afar:)
Rosemary Sadler from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand on January 05, 2012:
A fascinating hub. I had a silver persian and yes indeed they are a lot of work, We could groom Tinsel and then she would go out and crawl under the hedgerows and come in with her fur tangled again. She was definitely a lounge lizard.
You have provided some great information about the various breeds.