Nearly 43 million American households have a cat, and the U.S. is home to the world’s most extensive domestic feline population. It’s safe to say that many people love cats.
Cats have a long history with people. Traced back to ancient Egypt, where the African wild cat became domesticated, cat breeds rose in popularity as people found how useful they can be around the house. Today, numerous cat breeds originate from the exotic shorthair and Abyssinian to Maine coons and the Siamese cat.
The International Cat Association recognizes 71 cat breeds, ranging from the commonly known Siamese cat to the unique Russian blue. The Cat Fanciers’ Association recognizes 45 cat breeds. Each domestic cat breed exhibits unique traits. The most popular cat breeds around are affectionate, easy-going, and good with people.
Are you looking for an affectionate cat? Here are the top 10 most popular cat breeds:
The ragdoll is the most popular cat breed of 2020. Californian Ann Baker developed ragdoll cats during the 1960s. Most believe Baker’s white longhair cat is the original ragdoll. This pointed breed typically has darker fur around its features and lighter fur on its body.
With striking blue eyes and soft fur, the ragdoll cat is one of the most affectionate breeds, making them one of the most popular cat breeds. They love people, following their companions around, and even cuddling at night. They make sure to get your attention with their large, beautiful eyes.
Ragdolls are a very laid back pet. When it’s time to play, the intelligent ragdoll can learn to fetch. This breed will even allow kids to carry them around. These cats also tolerate other animals very well and make for a great family pet in a busy household.
Ragdoll Cat Breed Overview
- Personality Traits: Affectionate, Loves People
- Size: Large
- Appearance: Blue Eyes, Pointed, Three Possible Patterns (Colorpoint, Mitted, and Bicolor)
Named for their magnificent blue coat of fur, Russian Blue cats are an intelligent and elegant feline breed. In a certain light, the fur looks silvery and contrasts against their striking eyes. It’s one of the most beautiful cat breeds, earning a spot as one of the 10 most popular cat breeds.
The Russian Blue can talk back to you and loves to play with people or other pets. They love affection, attention, and cuddling! Their beautiful plush coat is also easy to groom and doesn’t need a lot of attention, making them a popular pick.
The Russian Blue cat originates from Russia, where they were initially named Archangels. They arrived in other parts of Europe and became a part of shows in the 19th century in Great Britain. Today, these domestic cats are loving family members.
Russian Blue Cat Breed Overview
- Personality Traits: Smart, Talkative, Affectionate
- Size: Medium
- Colors: Blue Coat and Green Eyes
As one of the oldest cat breeds, the British shorthair is a descendant of rodent killing felines in ancient Rome that made their way to Great Britain, where they crossed with Persian cat breeds in the early 20th century. The breed was nearly lost in World War II, but breeders kept the British shorthair alive. The cat breed has gained popularity worldwide ever since, and it’s no surprise it’s the most popular cat in the U.K.
British shorthairs are noticeable by their round face and a striking smile. It’s rumored the medium-sized breed was the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland. Their coat is soft to pet as the cat sleeps alongside you.
British shorthairs are one of the best family breeds of cats, exuding affection and playfulness. They love attention, and many act as a leader. The British shorthair is not very jumpy and prefers to stay on the floor rather than climb to tall places.
These attributes make these cats high on our list of the top 10.
British Shorthair Cat Breed Overview
- Personality Traits: Calm, Independent, Loves Attention
- Size: Medium and Large
- Colors: Typically Blue-Gray Fur Coat
As likely the most known cat breed, you can’t miss the Persian’s fluffy tail and long beautiful hair! It’s one of the most recognizable domestic felines globally. Persians are quiet and magnificent breeds. The cat’s flat face and big, round eyes entice you to cuddle and pet the sweet creature. Many enjoy calm surroundings and will lounge around all day as you pet their plush coat.
Persians is one of the oldest cat breeds. Evidence has the cat dating back to 1684 BC. Long-haired cats imported from Asia became popular breeds in Italy and became the Persian breeds we know today. They didn’t make their way to the United States until the late 1800s. Still, they quickly rose in popularity as domestic cats thanks to their calm and affectionate attitude.
While long-haired Persian cats are an excellent and well-mannered feline for many families, they require a lot of maintenance to keep their long, soft fur as healthy as possible. The Persian cat even needs daily coat brushing and regular face cleaning.
Persian Cat Breed Overview
- Personality Traits: Quiet, Affectionate
- Size: Medium Size with Large, Plush Coat
- Colors: Various Colors and Patterns
The Maine coon is a gentle and beautiful feline that enjoys socializing with large families, other cats, and even dogs. Maine coons very playful and friendly, making them one of the most popular cat breeds. Maine coons have long hair that requires regular brushing.
As the name suggests, Maine coons originated from Maine through rumored breedings between a wild cat, domestic feline, and raccoon (hence the “coon”). However, it’s more likely breeders crossed shorthair cats with exotic longhairs from the Norwegian forest to create the Maine coon domestic cat.
The Maine coon is one of the oldest natural longhair cat breeds from North America. Enamored by this gentle and adoring cat, officials in Maine even made the Maine coon the state cat in 1985.
Maine Coon Cat Breed Overview
- Personality Traits: Friendly, Smart
- Size: Medium to Large
- Colors: Various Colors and Patterns (Except Pointed)
If you’ve ever wanted a tiger, a Bengal cat is as close as you can get! The exotic-looking cat breed has a leopard pattern very similar to the Asian leopard cat. Despite looking like a fierce tiger, the Bengal is exceptionally loving and affectionate. They love socializing with and playing with people.
The Bengal was created in 1963 when Jean S. Mill crossed an Asian leopard cat with a wild cat. The resulting offspring was an exotic tabby breed. The Bengal is the only domestic cat that has markings like leopards and jaguars. This unique coat is what makes it one of the most popular cat breeds.
Bengal Cat Breed Overview
- Temperament: Smart, Playful, Energetic
- Size: Medium
- Colors: Exotic Marble Tabby Colors
One of the most popular cat breeds is a unique feline known as the Sphynx. The hairless Sphynx is a distinct cat breed with an inherent curiosity and high intelligence. The cat has a loyal and friendly, outgoing attitude. The Sphynx cat also loves to cuddle!
Named after the Egyptian Sphinx, the domestic cat originates from Ontario in the 1960s and is one of the most unique cat breeds. Sphynx breeds originated from a black and white cat born a hairless kitten, who was later bred to create more hairless cats. Initially called Canadian Hairless Cats, the name changed to Sphynx as they resembled the half-feline, half-human Egyptian statue.
Though they have no hair or coat (apart from a fuzz layer), Sphynx breeds come in various colors and patterns. Surprisingly, the cat is not hypoallergenic and secretes allergens through their saliva and skin.
Sphynx Cat Breed Overview
- Temperament: Sociable, Needs Attention
- Size: Small to Medium
- Colors: Various Colors and Patterns
Known for mischievous behavior and active lifestyles, the Devon Rex cat loves busy households and will amuse themselves with anything nearby. They’re one of the most popular cat breeds for families. They get along with most other cats and dogs, as well as children.
Devons originated from England in 1960 from a feral cat with a unique curly coat. Miss Beryl Cox adopted a stray cat with the feral cat’s litter, one of which had curly hair. Cox worked to preserve the unique cat, forming the breeds now known as Devon Rex.
Marked by a particularly short, wavy fur coat and large ears, the Devon cat doesn’t need a lot of grooming.
Devon Rex Cat Breed Overview
- Temperament: Energetic, Needs Attention
- Size: Medium
- Colors: All
The American shorthair arrived in North America as a working cat and is now a popular domestic cat. As these cat breeds became domesticated, they earned their official name in 1960, becoming one of the country’s most popular household cats.
This medium-sized American shorthair cat is one of the best cat breeds. It’s lovely for single people, seniors, and large families because it is so laid back. They’re one of the most adaptable cat breeds around. While the cat is calm and good-natured, the American shorthair is an independent cat.
American shorthairs are tolerant and friendly cats. While independent, they’re domestic, so they love to spend time with people. They’re brilliant, so their curiosity will keep them occupied!
American Shorthair Cat Breed Overview
- Temperament: Easy Going, Likes People
- Size: Medium
- Colors: Various Coat Colors and Patterns
Marked with flat, folded ears and big circular eyes, Scottish Fold cats are easy to recognize. This breed’s first cat was a Scottish barn cat with folded ears found by William Rossin in 1961. As the cat breed developed, breeders tracked Scottish Folds so that every single one alive today traces back to the original barn cat with unique ears.
Scottish Folds are one of the most loyal cat breeds around. They get along well with children and most pets. They follow their curiosity wherever it takes them and can even learn how to open doors and fetch.
Scottish Folds are bred by cat experts who keep track of their ancestry and develop healthy and happy cats. While named after their distinct folded ears, some Scottish Folds can have straight ears. In addition to the unique ears, the cat has short, soft fur and a bushy tail.
Scottish Fold Cat Breed Overview
- Temperament: Smart, Loyal
- Size: Medium
- Colors: All
The Right Cat Breed for You
Cats are a lifelong companion that will stay loyal to you forever. Each of the many cat breeds has distinct traits and marks, like the Scottish Fold’s flat ears and the Sphynx’s patterned, hairless body. Look at each cat’s characteristics and temperament to decide which one of the top cat breeds is perfect for your home.
While the above top 10 most popular cat breeds are some of the most popular cat breeds globally, many cats are looking for a loving home as a pet. From green eyes to floppy ears, many cats would make great family members. Whether you want a Cat Fanciers’ Association-approved Abyssinian cat, an Asian Leopard cat, a beautiful exotic shorthair cat breed, or a unique Siamese cat, make sure the cats you adopt will bring joy to your life for many years.