How many cat breeds are there in the UK?

How many cat breeds are there in the UK?

You can probably reel off a long list of dog breeds, from huge St Bernards to tiny Chihuahuas and everything in between. But how about cat breeds? For most people it would be a much shorter list – Siamese, Bengal, Persian, Tabby?

If you’re planning to welcome a new cat or kitten into your home, it’s important to understand the different types of cats there are in the UK and how the difference in breed will impact the character and care requirements of your pet.

How many cat breeds are there?

This depends who you ask – Whiskas have compiled a list of 32 cat breeds but most cats in the UK are from one of a handful of breeds. What is the most popular breed? According to Pets4homes, these include the Bengal, British shorthair, Persian, Siamese, Ragdoll, Maine Coon, Oriental, Norwegian Forest and Burmese.

This list should probably include the Moggie, the most common cat type in the UK. Not exactly a pedigree cat, Moggies are the feline equivalent of the doggy mongrel – lovable creatures whose mix of random breeding gives them a huge variety of coats, personalities and colours.

Choosing a cat breed

Before choosing a cat breed, it’s important to think about your personal situation. Certain breeds are better suited to homes with children, for example, whereas other breeds are more high maintenance and require lots of attention, company and grooming.

Budget is also a factor – different breeds can cost a lot more to keep as well as buy, with costs such as cat insurance, food, vet care and kitty entertainments all adding up.

various cat breeds

What is the friendliest breed of cat?

Cats have a reputation for being a bit stand-offish – it tends to feel like they own you, rather than the other way around. While some breeds are independent, others crave human company and love snuggling on the closest lap. So, which breeds make the cuddliest cats?

The Sphynx has often been rated as the friendliest feline breed. Sphynxes are sometimes called hairless but, in truth, they feel more like fuzzy peaches or suede, with soft down all over. They don’t like to venture out much because they feel the cold, so they depend on their humans for stimulation – meaning lots of play and cuddles.

Ragdolls have their cute name for a good reason – they like to be carried around in your arms, often relaxing so much they go limp like a doll. They love affection and often follow their owners around the home, ready to cosy up at a moment’s notice.

If you want both snuggles and smarts, a Siamese is a good bet. These lively cats are great company, combining affection with masses of personality. Siamese cats aren’t shy about letting you know if they don’t like something, but in a way that makes them all the more fun and rewarding as a pet.

What breeds are good with children?

Cats and kids can be a great combination. Having a pet teaches your little one about responsibility and care for others as well as the natural world. However, if not handled well it can be a source of stress, with kitties becoming scared or aggressive if not given enough space and respect.

Some breeds are naturally more good natured and robust, making them a perfect choice for families. Of course, each individual cat will have its own personality, so you shouldn’t judge by breed alone. Likewise, children vary in how gentle and kind they are to cats!

The British Shorthair is a good choice, with great adaptability and tolerance of children. Generally relaxed and unfussed about noise, there’s a reason why this is one of the most common breeds in the UK.

If your kids like to play, a Maine Coon cat could be your perfect pet. Robust and with sharp hunting skills, they love to roam outside and will play games such as following a string or jumping on a toy for long periods of time. Your kids are likely to tire before the cat does!

For a cuddlier option, the Ragdoll cat can be happy in family settings, with a very kind nature. Ragdolls are very unlikely to scratch or bite and love to snuggle, although as with any living animal they’ll make their feelings known if not treated with respect.

child with cat

What breeds are best for people with allergies?

First things first – there’s no one ‘cat allergy’, people can either respond to fur, dust carried on fur or the protein Fel d1 which is secreted by cats (in highest concentrations on males, especially if not neutered).

About 4.8 million Brits are sensitive to cat allergens, causing a streaming nose, itchy eyes and sneezing fits. If you suffer from allergies, it’s a good idea to spend time around cats from your intended breed to find out whether they trigger your allergy. Ask if you can have a cat breed test before adopting your new pet.

So which breeds should you consider? Depending on your allergy, you might want a breed with minimal shedding – one that secretes a small amount of Fel d1. Here are some of the most popular hypoallergenic breeds:



Hair shedding

Fel d1


Outgoing, love water, look like tigers!

Low shedding

Less than other breeds

Cornish Rex

Curly-coated, playful, energetic and intelligent

Low shedding - only has one layer of hair (most cats have three)

Less than other breeds

Devon Rex

Cheeky-looking and inquisitive

Low shedding

Less than other breeds

Russian Blue

Stunning thick coats and green eyes, very loyal

Low shedding

Less than other breeds


Long, thick fluffy coats (high maintenance grooming)

Periods of heavy shedding

Less than other breeds


Sweet-tempered and almost hairless - although this brings different grooming needs

No fur to shed

Very low as no fur to trap the protein


What are the largest cat breeds?

Cat breeds vary in size a lot. Having a massive cat roaming your house brings a certain extra charm, and some of these breeds are the most endearing out there. But beware – pedigree breeds can also struggle with health problems or require special diets, making them a more expensive option. They’ll need a bigger bed, more grooming, bigger cat flaps and litter boxes – more cat means more cost.

If you really think bigger is better when it comes to cats, why not consider a Siberian? They can reach up to 26lbs (11.8kg) but they look even bigger because of their thick, fluffy coats. Playful and family friendly, these felines certainly make their presence known. However they can suffer from heart disease.

Maine Coons are another jumbo choice. Weighing up to 18lbs (8.2kg), these long, loving, fluffy cats are great to have around but they need a lot of grooming and can be prone to joint problems.

Loving and easy-going, Ragdoll cats are another supersized moggy option. Weighing up to 20lbs (9.1kg) with gorgeous light-coloured coats and sparkling blue eyes, Ragdolls are long and tall and fluffy as well as generally well behaved.

Owning a big Bengal cat is really like having a mini tiger in your home. They weigh up to 18lbs (8.2kg). With a distinctively patterned smooth coat that seems to shimmer in the light, they’re confident and love to play, but they can also be very vocal and noisy.

What are the smallest cat breeds?

At the other end of the spectrum, some cat breeds stay petite throughout their lives, barely outgrowing the kitten size of most breeds. The smallest breed is said to be the Singapura, an active, playful cat related to the Abyssinian, with a small delicate body and big ears and eyes.

Small is beautiful for the Munchkin, a cat with a slightly small body but markedly short legs, which makes them much shorter than the average cat. Established as a breed in the 1980s, Munchkins love to play and jump but their short legs can cause health problems.

The Cornish Rex and Devon Rex are also slender, petite breeds with big personality. Delicate and intelligent, both breeds look a little kittenish. They both have soft, downy fur.

Feline breeders are experimenting with creating other small breeds, so keep an eye out for potential breeds such as the Kinkalow (Munchkin/American Curl cross), the Napoleon (Munchkin/Persian cross) or Labkin (Selkirk Rex/Munchkin cross).

various cat faces

Which cat breeds cost the most?

There’s nothing more heartbreaking than having to face the choice of either giving up a beloved pet or getting into debt to be able to afford their upkeep. Before bringing a cat into your life, it’s important to be realistic about what they will cost and what you can afford. In the UK, we spend around £7.9bn each year on our feline friends.

An average cat is estimated to cost at least £12,000 over its lifetime, including basics like food, litter supplies and toys as well as cat insurance and vet bills. You can add to this costs such as catteries or care while you’re away, replacement of damaged furniture, possibility of taking time off work to care for a sick pet and the upfront cost of buying the cat in the first place. What’s the most expensive cat to buy? Pedigree Savannah and Ashera cats cost at least £10,000 but can set you back up to £25,000.

If you opt for a pedigree pet, costs can ramp up even further. Pedigree cats often have particular veterinary needs, they may require special diets and they’re at higher risk of theft than the more common breeds of cat. Insurance costs may also be higher.

Why do we love our cats?

A survey of cat-owning Brits found that there are lots of reasons why we’re so connected to our pussycats. When asked what they love most about their cats, 52% said they were simply great company, while 33% reported their cats love to cuddle up.

For other owners, playful nature was important (30%), intelligence (22%) or independence (28%). The most common qualities among cats were said to be happiness (57%), lovingness (33%) and mischievousness (24%).

There is scientific evidence that owning a cat can be good for you. Cats have been found to lower stress levels in their humans, reducing health threats such as heart disease. They help children develop better immune systems and social skills, as well as avoiding allergies.

Cats have also been shown to have a positive effect on people with mental health difficulties; in a Cats Protection survey of 600 cat owners, 87% said their pet had a positive impact on their wellbeing. Some scientists even believe that cat purring at a frequency of 18-35HZ is therapeutic, helping to heal human bone and muscle.

If that’s not enough, a moggie can also help straight single men find a purr-fect partner. A research study found that 90% of women perceived men to be nicer and more caring when told they owned cats.

Take the stress out of cat ownership with pet insurance

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