Despite their consistent coloration, there’s more variety among black cat breeds than you might think. Learn more by reading about nine of them.

By Kate Silver
August 24, 2020
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Inky and mysterious, black cats have long been the stars of stories, screen, and superstition. While modern American culture most often associates black cats with bad luck or other dark arts, lots of worldwide cultures consider black cat breeds quite the opposite. In Japanese culture, a black cat crossing your path is a good omen. In historical England, black cats were given as wedding presents to bring good luck to the bride. And in Norse mythology Freya—the goddess of love, fertility, and beauty—rode a chariot pulled by two black cats. 

While black cats share dramatic looks based on their sable coats and golden or green eyes, all black cat breeds are definitely not all the same. In fact, The Cat Fanciers’ Association recognizes 23 breeds of cats that can have solid black coats. Among them, there are long-haired black cat breeds, short-tailed black cat breeds, and even hairless breeds.

Each breed is, of course, known for its own quirks and characteristics that go beyond that common coat color, says Teresa Keiger, who is an all-breed judge with The Cat Fanciers' Association, as well as the organization’s creative director. “Remember, black is just one of several colors and patterns. It really has nothing to do with personality or anything,” Keiger says. “The 23 different breeds have 23 different temperaments.” 

Read on to learn about nine breeds whose colorations often include black, and the different demeanors of each.

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This is the only cat breed that’s almost always black (the exception being the occasional brown one that may appear in a litter, as a fluke). With short black hair and copper or green eyes, the Bombay resembles a mini panther. She's energetic, playful, curious—and loves to be the center of attention.

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As her name implies, this cat’s tail is short, measuring less than 3 inches to meet the breed standard—and making for a black-cat conversation piece. The Japanese bobtail has extra-long, muscular back legs, and loves to leap and pounce. She's a friendly and social cat that expects to be a full-fledged family member and participate in all activities, as well as she can, from kitchen chores to office tasks. 

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Black is one of many color possibilities for the British shorthair, which has an adorably rounded, almost pudgy appearance, with entrancing gold or copper eyes (per the breed standard with a black coat). This cat is known for his calm, easygoing nature. He loves his human family, and gets along well with other four-legged family members, as well. 

You’ll know this distinctive cat by her ears, which curl back in a captivating way, and her almost human-like expression of amusement. The American curl, which comes in an array of colors and patterns, including black, is smart and curious; she loves being around people and other pets and it will do what it takes to get—and keep—your attention. The eyes for black American curl cats can be any color, including a beautiful green or yellow.

You won’t mix a black Cornish rex up with most breeds! It’s fairly easy to identify this energetic creature by his bat-like ears and bunny-like face. His fine-textured coat is short, soft, and easy to maintain, and his kitten-like personality is endearing and doesn’t change much with age. 

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The exotic is essentially a Persian with short hair. She has all the hallmarks of that mellow, endearing personality, without the high maintenance of the long, flowing coat. With her pouty mouth and big, round eyes, the exotic is a constant source of entertainment—for you and all of your followers on social media. With purebred black exotic cats, the breed standard calls for “brilliant copper” eyes.

The hairless sphynx proves that cats don’t have to have a coat to be considered black. This loving breed, with her soft, suede-like skin, seems to have a perpetual question mark on its face, thanks to her distinctive wrinkles. The sphynx is an active breed that loves to amuse her humans, but is also content to curl up and share their warmth.

Golden eyes truly pop against the coal-black coat of the American shorthair. This popular breed is sweet and loving and makes an ideal addition to families. He’s low-maintenance when it comes to grooming as well as personality, which is much more agreeable than demanding.

This cat comes in every color and pattern, so of course, he comes in black. The Oriental shorthair is smart and inquisitive, and can also be demanding. He loves his human so much that he wants to be involved in every household activity—even if that means causing a disruption to make it so.