Purebred cats come in many sizes, shapes, and colors. Read about 12 exotic purebred felines.

By Doug Jimerson


Stocky and powerful, the Burmese is the only natural brown cat in the world. The short, sleek coat is a shimmering dark brown -- so dark it looks almost black from a distance. The Burmese has glowing gold round eyes, a round head, a snub nose, and a curved lip. The lip is what has earned the Burmese the nickname "smiling cat." The devoted personality of the Burmese makes it a common lap cat. Originally from Asia, this cat also comes in other coat colors such as champagne and blue.


This cat's features combine two breeds: the Persian and the Siamese. The Himalayan has a broad, boxy trunk with short thick legs and a long-haired coat similar to the Persian. It has a large head, round face, and wide-set, bright blue eyes. The Himalayan's marking resemble the Siamese: seal point (brown on the ears, face, paws, and tail) with a body of soft tan. Other color variations include: chocolate point, blue point, flame point, lilac point, cream point, tortoiseshell point, and blue cream point. Grooming is necessary so that the long hair doesn't mat.


Known for their abbreviated nose and flat face, this long-haired cat has a round head, short thick legs and tail, and comes in a host of coat colors. This cat's large round head is very distinctive, and the eye color varies depending on the coat color. The Persian is a sweet, gentle cat that is known to be less active than some of its short-haired cousins. Daily grooming is a must so mats don't develop in the long hair. When the Persian cat is mature, it should sport a large, full, lionlike ruff.


Known as the cat without a tail, the Manx has a short, broad-chested body; a round, solid rump; and a pear-shape head with wide-set ears. Manx come in all eye and coat colors and patterns, except for those of Siamese. This cat is quiet and affectionate and might spend most of the day curled up in your lap if you let it.


The short, tightly waved coat of the rex makes it look like it has no coat at all. This cat's coat, which is a mutation, is soft to the touch and sheds very little. In the early 1960s, there were two strains of this cat: the Devon rex and the Cornish rex, both from England. Both breeds come in all colors, except those of the Siamese. The body of the rex is very slender with a narrow chest and long, fine-boned legs. The Cornish rex has a "tucked-up" abdomen (like a greyhound's); a long, thin tail; and large ears. The Devon rex isn't as fine-boned or slender. Both breeds are friendly, quiet, and acrobatic.


This breed looks similar to a long-haired Siamese. It has a medium length, slender body with long, delicate legs. Its long coat doesn't mat easily, so Balinese don't have to be as vigilantly groomed as other long-haired breeds. The Balinese is generally quieter than a Siamese. This graceful, gentle cat loves attention and is exceptionally outgoing and intelligent.


The exotic-looking, lithe Abyssinian sports a wedge-shape head, large at-alert ears, and gold or green luminous, almond-shape eyes. Slender and muscular, this cat has a short, dense coat that ranges from brown, black, silver, or cream. A long-haired version called a Somali is also popular. The Abyssinian is active and often paces back and forth like a miniature cougar. It requires lots of exercise and attention. Curious and smart, it's a loving companion.

Maine Coon Cat

This large cat (mature males can grow to 25-30 pounds) is reputed to be a cross between a cat and a raccoon -- hence the name. Although that's impossible, it's hard not to wonder what other genes went into this oversize cat. The coat of this cat is long and shaggy but doesn't mat easily.  The color varies, but tabby and white is the most popular. It has a thick body, a broad head, and tufted ears, giving it a lynxlike appearance. Maine coon cats frequently have extra toes, a genetic trait called polydactylism.


According to legend, the Siamese cat was the sacred cat of Siam (now Thailand). The distinct coat markings make a Siamese cat easy to spot: the points (ears, face, paws, and tail) are always darker in color than the body. The original Siamese marking was called seal point, which is dark brown points and a cream body. Other colors include blue point, lilac point, chocolate point, lynx point, red point, and tortoiseshell point. All Siamese have long, slender, pantherlike bodies and blue eyes.

Egyptian Mau

The unusual coat of this cat -- it's spotted -- makes it a favorite. This ancient breed has been found pictured on centuries-old Egyptian tombs. The coat colors can range from silver, black smoke, pewter, or bronze. The black or dark brown, leopardlike spots are scattered on white, beige, fawn, or bronze coats. The mau generally has a soft voice and is very loving and loyal.

Japanese Bobtail

This cat has no relation to the Manx, but it also does not have a tail. It is a medium-size cat with a sweet disposition. As the Japanese bobtail matures, the hair on the tail grows longer than the hair on the body, giving the tail a pom-pom look. The breed has high cheekbones and wide-set, almond-shape eyes. This cat has a lot of energy and loves to play.

Scottish Fold

The ears of this unique-looking cat fold forward rather than standing up. This ear mutation was discovered on a domestic short-haired cat in Scotland in the early 1960s. Scottish folds are short-bodied cats with large round heads and expressive eyes. The color of the coat varies, but tabby-marked cats are the most common.


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