The Rarest Cat Breed In The World

Let's start by saying that narrowing down "the rarest" type of just about any animal is kind of a tall order. A lot of different variables go into making an animal rare or not rare. How many of them exist in the world? How often are now ones born? What's their average lifespan? How often are they seen by humans? And most importantly, how truthful are breeders and enthusiasts being when they say "Yeah, this animal is really rare?"

So we're going to say that we've found the rarest cat breed in the world. Maybe. Someone else is almost certainly going to come along and say, "Hey! That's not the rarest cat breed in the world!" And they'd probably be able to make a pretty good case for why we're wrong. So let's just settle for "quite possibly the rarest cat breed in the world" and be happy with that.

It's the werewolf cat. Probably.

Drum roll: The rarest cat breed in the world is (maybe) the werewolf cat.

According to Atlas Obscura, in 2016 an animal rescue group found one of these cats living under a bush in South Africa. Called a "Lykoi" or werewolf cat, these kitties are covered in strange, patchy, wolf-like fur that does sort of resemble the way hair sprouts out of a werewolf in most Hollywood werewolf films.

Lykoi cats have a rare genetic mutation that makes their hair grow this way. So far, only 35 known animals have spontaneously developed the mutation, although there are Lykoi breeders that select for the mutation. 

US veterinarian and breed specialist Johnny Gobble says most of the Lykoi cats that are being bred today were taken from shelters or from a feral population, just like the South African specimen. "This is why we call the Lykoi a second chance breed," Gobble said. "All of the cats in the starting program were rescues." Gobble says Lykois have great personalities and no known genetic health problems. And they're cute ... sort of. Not really. You be the judge.