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From the wildcats that roam the woods to the domesticated kitties that stalk toy mice from the comfort of their own homes, these rare cat breeds are notable for their remarkable colors, distinguishing features and personalities.
The American Wirehair cat has been one of the world's uncommon cat breeds ever since the first litter appeared as the result of a rare "spontaneous mutation in a litter of [domestic] farm cats in 1966," shares the American Cat Fanciers Association. Originating in upstate New York, this large, muscular, and powerful breed (an average cat weighs 12 pounds) is uniquely American because this mutation has not been reported in any country other than the United States. Excess weight can become an issue, so it is important stick to a controlled meal plan. A quiet cat, this breed enjoys alone time, so be sure to keep plenty of toys around the house. But when they feel like playing, the American wirehair will seek out their family and be a loyal companion, especially for pet parents who live a laid-back lifestyle.
A distinctive-looking cat, the Sphynx also is one of the most popular rare cat breeds. "Sphynx lovers consider them to be exceedingly rare and unusual," explains The Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) "and because of this most breeders have waiting lists for their kittens." Not all Sphynx cats, which first appeared in Canada in 1966, are hairless. They range from bald to a little peach fuzz, and most have tufts of hair on their ears, nose, tail, and even toes. Their skin is supple, smooth, and comes in a variety of colors and patterns. If you welcome a Sphynx into your home, you'll be blessed with a playful, affectionate feline friend who'll curl up in your lap or play with you. This breed can be athletic and have a high activity level, so stock up on healthy cat food to support their needs.
The Cymric is the long-haired, double-coated member of the uncommon Manx cat breed that gets its name from the Isle of Man, an island nestled in the northern Irish Sea between Ireland and England. The Manx is an ancient breed that has long been prized as a ship's cat and is distinguished by their round, tailless rump. Legend tells that when the biblical hero Noah closed up the Ark, his cat's tail got trapped in the door and fell off.
The lack of a tail is, in fact, due to a dominant genetic mutation. Not all Cymrics are tailless, as some are born with small stumps similar to a Japanese bobtail and a rare few are born with long tails. Linguists have dated the Cymric's existence back to the 18th century thanks to a word in the Manx language describing a tailless rump. This sturdy working cat didn't arrive in the United States until the 1930s.
Cymrics are intelligent, mild-mannered cats that have great affection for their pet parents. Their puppy-like enthusiasm and unique traits, including burying toys and opening door knobs with their paws, will keep you on your toes.
Depictions of the Egyptian Mau can be found in ancient artifacts, with "archaeological and genetic evidence to show that the cats first originated in the fertile crescent," points out The International Cat Association. Regal and athletic, Egyptian mau cats retain several of their ancient traits, including a panther-like gait and a "loose skin flap that extends from flank to hind leg, which allows the Mau remarkable freedom and agility in twisting and jumping," explains the CFA. The group also notes that they are one of the rare cat breeds to have natural spots. With theirhistory of being worshiped by kings, pharaohs, and other royalty, the graceful Mau can at times appear shy or standoffish, but they love their humans and will bestow upon you their unending devotion. They may also show you their incredible climbing abilities by scrambling up a wall or chair and perching on top.
Although you won't often find rare cat breeds in an animal shelter, you can contact your local adoption center to see if any distinctive-looking kitties have arrived. Some adoption groups may even specialize in a particular breed characteristic, such as Tailless Cat Rescue of Liberty, North Carolina. Whether you're looking to adopt one of the uncommon cat breeds or are happily attached to a lovable moggie, you'll discover there are many marvelous cats with rich histories.