The Most Popular Cat Breeds

Published January 2011

Despite the old saying, it just may be cats, not dogs, that are man's (and women's) best friend. There are over 200 million pet cats in the world, with more than 75 million felines in the United States alone. But which is the most popular breed?

The most popular breed of cat is not an actual breed at all. It is what is called a "domestic shorthair"; meaning it is a shorthaired cat that is a a mash-up of many breeds. Whether called an alley cat, a moggie, or a DSH, it is simply a cat of mixed heritage.

Determining the most popular breed of PEDIGREED cats is a little bit more challenging. Including rare and newly developing breeds, there are just under 100 pedigreed breeds of cats recognized by a variety of cat registries around the world..

To determine the most popular breeds of cat, perhaps the best place to start looking for an answer is by comparing the number of kittens of the various breeds which are registered each year. There are several dozen cat registries world-wide, and their registration statistics vary widely.

The Cat Fancier's Association (CFA) is the largest registry of pedigreed cats in the world. According to their latest registration statistics, the most popular cat breed (meaning the largest number of kittens registered for the year) is the Persian. Persians have always been number one in CFA since it first started keeping records in 1871. The Persian breed accounts for about half of all CFA registrations, followed by the Maine Coon in the number two slot, then three shorthair breeds; Siamese, Oriental and Abyssinian coming in at numbers three through five.

The International Cat Association (TICA) is another major registry in the US. Their most popular breed in TICA is the Bengal (not a recognized breed in CFA) with the Ragdoll a close second in registrations, followed by the Maine Coon and Sphynx, all which are breeds that are increasing in popularity and registration numbers in TICA. The Persian comes in 5th and its registration numbers have actually been declining over the past decade.

In GCCF, the main registry of Great Britain, not unexpectedly, the British Shorthair dominates, followed closely by Siamese with the Persian coming in third in popularity, followed closely by Bengals, Burmese and Birmans, Maine Coons and Ragdolls.

Clearly, what is the most popular breed in one cat registry is not the top cat in other registries. But, can we take these statistics, combine them with breed recognizability and other trends and conclude which are really the top five most popular pedigreed cat breeds in the world?

Let's give it a try...



Despite it not being number 1 in every cat registry, in over-all numbers and breed recognizability, the Persian is still probably the most popular breed of cat. The beauty of its flowing coat, the cuteness of its pug-nosed face and its laid-back, almost dog-like personality continues to charm cat lovers all over the world.


Maine Coon:

The silver medal in the popularity race goes to the Maine Coon. Big, hardy, gentle and loving, The Maine Coon's long fur doesn't require as much grooming as the coat of a Persian.



Despite not being accepted in the largest registry in the world, the growing number of people around the world who love the Bengal breed cannot be denied. This breed comes in at number three.


Siamese & Orientals:

The number four cat is not one breed but two closely related breeds - the Siamese and the Oriental. They are the "slinkies" of the cat world.

Along with the Persian, the Siamese is arguably the most recognized breed in catdom. The Siamese is a slim-bodied cat with striking pointed coat color and a distinctive personality.

Developed from the Siamese, the Oriental looks and behaves much like its ancestor but comes in over 300 different color combinations and can be either short-haired or long-haired.

Both Siamese and Orientals are active, athletic breeds, affectionate, loyal and people-oriented.


British Shorthair:

Because of its huge popularity in the British Isles, the British Shorthair ranks fifth in popularity. Although most often thought of as a "British Blue", the breed is actually available in other colors.

All Photos by Helmi Flick


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