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The 10 Most Popular Cat Breeds in the World

Which breeds are most highly coveted by cat owners? Furry felines—and even a bald breed—from across the world top this distinguished list.
By Ashley Flaws
March 26, 2021

The results are in! As the world's largest registry of pedigreed cats with 46 breeds recognized, the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) is the paw-thority on our pedigreed pals and every year talleys the most popular cat breeds based on worldwide breeder registration.

The data collected by the CFA is not an exact "headcount" of each breed, says Teresa Keiger, CFA Allbreed Judge and editor of CFA's Cat Talk magazine; however, there is a correlation between the number of cats breeders register and the number of pedigreed cats owned in households around the world.

Does your favorite cat breed make the list? These 10 favored felines can hold their heads high and mighty—OK fine, even higher and mightier than their natural pride merits—this year as the most popular cat breeds from 2020.

ragdoll cat with blue eyes looking at camera
Credit: JKristoffersson / Getty

1. Ragdoll

With its long silky coat and bright blue eyes, it's no wonder the ragdoll tops the list as the most popular cat breed for the third year in a row. Living up to its namesake, the ragdoll is known to go limp in your arms and will soak up all the love and cuddles you have to offer. These cooperative kitties are kind and do well with children, making them the perfect cat companion for your entire clan.

white exotic shorthair cat with different color eyes
Credit: joke50e / Shutterstock

2. Exotic

Though they bear a strikingly similar resemblance to their parent breed, the Persian, the exotic is evidently more popular, likely due to its low-maintenance mane. Minimal upkeep is required to keep these felines looking—and feeling—fancy. When it comes to grooming, one brush through weekly should do the trick, Keiger says.

Maine Coon Cat
Credit: Alexandra Jursova / Getty

3. Maine Coon Cat

"Our largest breed, the Maine coon cat deservedly earned the nickname of 'the gentle giant,'" Keiger says. "Someone who has never seen one is often surprised at just how large they are; a male can be 20 pounds and all muscle."

In other words, these large cats have even more to love! Better yet, they have a lot of their own love to give and are highly regarded as one of the friendliest cat breeds you can find.

angry-looking orange persian cat
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4. Persian

Flat faces and long, flowing fur make the popular Persian one of the most recognizable breeds around the world. Despite their regal appearance, Persians don't need a whole lot to be happy and are often most satisfied cuddled in your lap. Their long hair, however, does require consistent maintenance and should be brushed daily to avoid uncomfortable mats.

serious looking gray cat with yellow eyes
Credit: Getty

5. British Shorthair

The British are coming! Actually, they are here to stay. British shorthairs are consistently one of the most popular cat breeds in the world. This beloved breed resembles a teddy bear in both appearance and demeanor, Keiger says, with an easygoing nature and penchant for playing with their favorite people.

white devon rex cat sitting on windowsill
Credit: Angela Kotsell / Getty

6. Devon Rex

"Cat? Or space alien? Or elf?" Keiger says. "This whimsical-looking breed just makes you smile looking at it. You'll also never be lonely; the Devon rex insists on being with its owner. They really crave attention, and with its winsome appearance, it's hard not to give in!"

This boisterous breed is most enriched when interacting with people, other pets, or playthings, so be sure to provide a stimulating environment and don't plan to leave them alone often.

Abyssinian cat on staircase
Credit: Getty

7. Abyssinian

"Bright, alert, and very active, the Abyssinian is one of our most intelligent breeds," Keiger says. "They want to be with their people and help supervise everything that they're doing. They get along very well with other cats, animals, and children."

One of the oldest known cat breeds, the Abyssinian still maintains a graceful elegance centuries later, most recognizable for their lavish coloring, lithe bodies, and long ears.

gray tabby American Shorthair cat
Credit: Lalandrew / Getty

8. American Shorthair

The magnificent mouser of the Mayflower, the American shorthair is thought to have come to America during the famous voyage, quickly spreading in popularity due to their ability to protect against rats and other pests. Today, they remain a popular cat breed for families around the world and are known to be affectionate, endearing pets despite their history as hunters.

"Now, although it has the same muscular body and square-shaped jaws, the American shorthair is more likely to be pouncing on rattle mice or feathered toys," Keiger says.

cat with big eyes
Credit: kiszon pascal / Getty

9. Scottish Fold

Aptly named, the Scottish fold is known for its characteristic "folded" ears—paired with their round eyes, this cat's countenance is often described as owl-like. The Scottish fold is more rare than the other breeds on this list, Keiger says, bearing another similarity to its bird brethren who can also be difficult to come across. Pet buyers may discover that the straight-eared Scottish folds are more readily available.

gray sphynx cat sitting by window
Credit: stefanamer / Getty

10. Sphynx

Rounding out the most popular cat breeds is the notably nude hairless sphynx, a low allergen cat breed recognized for their bald bodies. The sphynx is an active breed and should have plenty of toys available for mental stimulation. The stereotypical curious cat, the sphynx also takes well to training.

Because they are hairless, the sphynx does have unique grooming needs. "They do require regular grooming as the body oil which other breeds' hair absorbs lies on the body," Keiger says. "Wiping down and regular bathing keeps that in check."

Now it's your turn to weigh in: