The Most Expensive Cat Breeds

Cole Mayer  | 

Cats can be expensive, just like some breeds of dogs. While adoption fees tend to be minimal, getting a purebred cat from a breeder can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. Hybrid cats can fetch in the tens of thousands of dollars, based on how many generations removed they are from the wild cats that founded the breed. Likewise, depending on the breed, the cost of owning a cat after the initial adoption can vary significantly.

American Shorthair: $600 – 1,200

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Ironically getting their start in Britain, the American Shorthair was a common household cat across the pond more than 300 years ago, though it was simply called the “Shorthair” then. Though cats were blamed in the early 1600s for the plague, cats were brought as rodent control aboard the Mayflower as it crossed the Atlantic in 1621. These shorthairs were the ancestors of today’s American Shorthair, named in 1966 to “better represent its ‘All American’ character,” the CFA notes.

A muscular, working cat, the breed is medium-to-large size, with coats in more than 60 colors. It has a quiet voice, and will calmly sit in its owner’s lap. It gets along with other pets and children, and is easily trained.

Maine Coon: $400 – $1,500

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Unsurprisingly a native of the state of Maine, and the State Cat, Maine Coons have been in America for centuries. Their origins are surrounded in myth and lore, including the impossible breeding of racoons.

A long-haired cat that comes in a plethora of colors with what the CFA describes as a “uneven, shaggy coat of three distinct lengths and a long, well furnished tail,” Maine Coons are renowned for their mouse hunting abilities, and are hard workers well-suited to New England winters. They are known for often weighing in the high teens and sometimes more than 20 pounds.

The breed saw a dip in popularity in the early 1900s, but made a comeback in the middle of the century. Intelligent and kind, they are now known for being an ideal pet, great with both kids and dogs.

British Shorthair: $800 – $1,700

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Domesticated by the Roman Empire, the British Shorthair was then prized for its physical strength and hunting ability, the CFA notes. Today, the breed is much more quiet and reserved, reflecting the general British stereotype. For over a thousand years, the Shorthair was the cat of choice for British households, adept at guarding against rodents.

A medium-to-large cat, Pet MD describes them as having a “crisp, plush coat, dense and waterproof, over a compact, cobby body. It has a full chest, and medium to short thick legs.” The CFA calls them “purring, teddy bear cats with large round eyes.”

Fiercely loyal to an entire family rather than a single person, they are ideal family pets. They are well-known for a “smile” that inspired Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire Cat from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Ragdoll: $800 – $1,300

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The Ragdoll breed was developed in the 1960s by breeder Ann Baker of Riverside, California, the CFA notes. She bred Josephine, a domesticated feral long-haired white female Angora/Persian that formerly lived on a neighbor’s property, with other cats she owned or simply found.

She then created a breeding program to select the look and temperament she wanted, producing large cats with semi-long hair, blue eyes, and a coat that is lighter in the points — the face, legs, tail, and ears — than the rest of the body.

A laid-back breed, they are more interested in people than cats, and will likely stay close to their owner. With good manners and a soft voice, the breed is docile and polite. It often lies limp like a rag doll, giving the breed its name. Ragdolls get along well with children and other pets.

American Wirehair: $1,000 – $1,200

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The American wirehair breed started with a genetic mutation. The first, a red and white-colored cat named Council Rock Farm Adam of Hi-Fi, was born in 1966 to Nathan Mosher in Verona, New York. The only survivor of a weasel attack, Adam was sought after by Rex breeder Joan O’Shea, after hearing of Adam’s unique springy, coiled hair, described as feeling like lamb’s wool or steel wool.

Mosher sold Adam for $50 after O’Shea convinced him of Adam’s importance. Not long after, O’Shea’s neighbor’s calico had a litter of kittens — two of which had Adam’s unique hair — and they called O’Shea to let her know the news. The American Shorthair was officially a viable breed.

O’Shea went to Bill and Madeline Beck, fellow Rex breeders, for help. O’Shea bought the neighbor’s two cats, and with the help of the Becks, produced more of the breed.

The American Cat Fancier’s Association (CFA) officially recognized the breed in 1967. The breed, as a mutation, has not been seen outside of America, giving it a certain rarity. The mutation is also an incomplete dominant gene, meaning that even if two wirehairs mate, their kittens may not have the signature wire hair.

American Curl: $800 – $1,300

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The American Curl, like the American Wirehair before it, came about from a random genetic mutation. Grace and Joe Ruga of Lakewood, California, discovered a stray long-haired black female cat with curled ears on their property in June of 1981. They named the cat Shulamith. Six months later, Shulamith gave birth to a litter of kittens. One, Meredith, was given to Grace’s sister, Esther Brimlow of Orange, California. Meredith also produced a litter of kittens. The American Curl breed was now fully established.

Curls are born with straight ears, curling between 3 and 5 days after birth. It will then uncurl and curl repeatedly, finally curling for the last time around 4 months. Medium-sized with a slender build, Curls have plump tails and come in both long- and short-haired varieties, with a silky, flat-lying coat. They have minimal undercoats, reducing shedding, and come in a variety of colors and patterns. Another signature of the breed is expressive, walnut-shaped eyes.

Lovable and affectionate, the Curl will bump heads as a way of greeting. They enjoy perching on shoulders and rubbing against faces, but will not harass their owners for attention. The Curl is an inquisitive cat, and will often explore its environment or play games, making them perfect for households with children.

Sphynx: $900 to $2,000

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The Sphynx, according to the CFA, was the result of a natural mutation in a kitten born to a domestic cat in 1966 in Toronto, Canada. While there had been other hairless cats, traceable back to a Mexican Hairless in 1903, the Sphynx was the first that was consistently breeded with the mutation. It has since been crossbred with other haired and hairless cats in order to foster better genetic variety and create a robust breed with few health issues.

Not all Sphynx are totally hairless; some have fine down that has been compared to the hair on a peach. Their skin can have a buttery feel, or close to a warm suede or chamois.

The breed is a high-energy cat, often climbing objects and showing off with tricks. They are robust and can take a pratfall easily. They crave human attention, and are curious and mischievous.

Unlike many other cats, Sphynx do not have a difficult time with baths. Most become accustomed in kittenhood, as the lack of a true coat results in oil buildup, necessitating regular baths.

Scottish Fold: $800 – $1,500

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Named for ears that fold forward and downward, the Scottish Fold was discovered in 1961 by farmer William Ross near his neighbor’s farm near Coupar Angus in the Tayside Region of Scotland. The cat, Suzie, produced a litter also bearing folded ears. Ross bought a kitten from the litter, named her Snooks, and began a breeding program.

The breed, also known as the Highland Fold, made its way to America in 1970, when three of Snooks’ kittens were sold to Dr. Neil Todd of the Carnivore Genetics Research Center in Massachusetts. One was later sold to Manx breeder, Salle Wolfe Peters of Pennsylvania, who was later credited with establishing the breed in America.

The medium-sized cats are, like American Curls, born with straight ears. The ears fold after about 3 weeks — though some never curl, and have “normal” ears. This makes actual folded-ear Scottish Folds fairly rare. While most Folds have short, silky hair, a long-haired variety is also available. They come in a variety of colors, as well.

Quiet and sweet, Folds are not very vocal, but love human companionship and are not quick to panic. They are intelligent and gentle, and become very attached to their owner. They are easily trained. Due to faulty breeding, they sometimes have health problems, such as congenital osteodystrophy, a genetic condition that causes bones to be distorted and enlarged.

Russian Blue: $500 – $3,000

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Green eyes and a silvery blue coat are the signatures of the Russian Blue. Thought to have been brought to Britain by sailors visiting the Russian White Sea port of Archangel (Arkhangelsk in Russian), the breed was first displayed in the early 1870s at the Crystal Palace in London under the name of the Archangel Cat.

After multiple breeding programs that resulted in changes in shape and personality, British breeders in 1965 created the green-eyed, bluish coated cats known today by breeding with Scandinavian cats.

A gentle cat that is shy around strangers, the breed is devoted and affectionate towards their owners. They love to play fetch, keeping the game going as long as your patience holds out. They love to chase toys or sunbeams, and can spend hours amusing themselves. While they startle easily, they are still a people-cat.

The short, dense, silky double coat features hair that stands out at 45 degree angle. This leads to a plush feel, and, as an added bonus, does not shed much.  

Siberian Forest Cat: $1,000 – $2,000

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Siberian Forest Cats are known for being big and fluffy. Males can reach between 17 and 26 pounds, with females a bit smaller. The bushy tailed breed originated, as the name implies, in Russia, with stories reaching back hundreds of years. They are documented in the 1889 book Our Cats and All About Them, but didn’t arrive in the US until June of 1990.

Meant to survive the harsh winters of Siberia, the breed’s triple coats are long and heavy, oily and water resistant. They have a ruff around the neck and fully, fluffy britches. Despite being strong, powerful cats, they are also quite agile. Siberians are intelligent problem-solvers and affectionate towards their owners. Unlike many cats, Siberians love water, throwing toys in water or playing around it.

Fearless and easygoing, Siberians are personable, enjoying the company of children and other pets. They tend to be quiet but very playful.

Peterbald: $1,700 to $3,000

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One of the newest breeds, the Peterbald, according to the International Cat Association, was discovered sometime around 1988 in the Russian city of Rostov on Don. Originally called the Don Sphynx, as, like the Sphynx, it is mostly hairless, the cats were exported to Europe for breeding.

During the breeding, some of the cats were not hairless, and had ordinary coats, despite having hairless parents. Breeding continued until 1993, when a fine oriental shorthair, Radma Von Jagerhof, was bred to a Don Sphynx named Afinguen Myth in St. Petersburg. One of the kittens of the litter, Nocturne Iz Murino, was selected as the foundation stud, and the Peterbald breed was born.

Peterbalds are highly intelligent and, as TICA says, “aggressively affectionate.” Playful, active, and athletic, the cats are friendly and curious, welcoming visitors at the door and good with other pets. Their preferred resting spot is their owner’s lap, and they will be a constant companion. Unlike many breeds on this list, they are highly vocal.  

Persian: $1,800 – $5,500

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While Persians are named for supposedly originating from Persia, now Iran, the actual history of the breed is murky. There are, according to the CFA, hieroglyphic reference to the breed as early as 1684 B.C. Persians were imported into Italy by Viaggi di Pietro della Valle in the 1600s, but did not reach America until the 1800s.

The breed is a medium-sized cat with, what the CFA calls, an “open pansy-like” face, lacking a muzzle. It is known for its long, luxurious, silky, shimmering coat, and, due to being a largely inactive cat, has been called a “furniture with fur.” Persians are creatures of habit, loving reassurance. Their voices are quiet but melodious, often communicating through their large, expressive eyes. They have short legs and broad, short bodies. While they are playful, they are not very athletic. They are perfect as indoor, docile cats.

Bengal: $400 – $10,000

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While averaging about $1,000, Bengals with the right pedigree, generation, and coat quality can fetch upwards of $10,000. The reason is that Bengals have a unique history: They are the only successful pairing of a wild cat, the Asian Leopard cat, and a domestic cat. Jean Sudgen of California, an amatuer breeder and former UC Davis genetics researcher, received a group of cats in the 1970s that had been bred for use in genetic testing. She received them from Dr. Willard Centerwall of Loyola University, who had been testing Asian Leopards due to their partial immunity to feline leukemia. He cross-bred the wild cats with domestic cats to test for genetic viability in immunization development.

After his program was completed, he decided to rehome the cats. Ms. Sudgen had an interest in breeding Asian Leopard hybrids, and took the cats that had a domestic temperament along with the unique spotted patterns. Sudgen, who married and changed her name to Mill, found the males to be sterile. However, the females were not; she needed a stud. In 1982, the curator of the New Delhi Zoo in India pointed her to a leopard-like street cat living in the rhinoceros exhibit. Despite being a feral cat, the stud was the foundation for the Bengal line.

Bengals are devoted companions, curious and athletic, and high-energy even in later years. They can be trained to learn tricks, and, unlike many cats, have an affinity for water. Their plush coats are richly colored, with highly contrasted spots or distinctive marbling, and are the only domestic breed to have rosette markings like leopards, jaguars, and ocelots. The most common color patterns are the brown spotted and rosetted tabby. Early generations of Bengals tend to be more “wild” while later generations are calm, friendly, and affectionate.

Possessing both strength and elegance, Bengals are well-muscled with long bodies and thick tales to provide balance.

Savannah: $1,000 – $20,000

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Much like the Bengal, pricing of a Savannah is often mostly determined by the generation. Also like the Bengal, the Savannah came about from a pairing with a wild cat; unlike the Bengal, the Serval used to breed with a domestic cat was also domesticated.

First documented in April 1986, the Savannah was the result of Bengal breeder Judee Frank pairing her female 8-pound Siamese Sealpoint with Ernie, a 30-pound Serval owned by Suzy Wood. Wood took the offspring, named Savannah, and she became the first-generation hybrid. From here, Patrick Kelly, who bought one of Savannah’s kittens, and breeder Joyce Sroufe continued the line, creating the breed known today.

Due to being part African Serval, Savannah cats have an exotic look with a bold, spotted coat. Colors include brown, tan, or gold, with black or dark brown spots; silver with black or dark gray spots; black with black spots; or black-tipped silver with black spots. Other patterns include a marble pattern, snow coloration, and other diluted colors. Many of these are affected by which generation of Savannah the specific cat is.

F1, or first generation, Savannahs are 50 percent Serval, while F5, or fifth generation, Savannahs are about 11 percent Serval. Savannahs are very active adventure seekers. Curious and loyal, they form strong bonds with their owners. They love water and have a very dog-like personality, loving to play games like fetch. They are not the type of cat to sit in laps, but will follow their owners around and give affectionate headbutts.

Savannahs are muscular cats, with a short, thick tail, long neck, and long legs. Though it appears tall, the cats tend to be medium-sized and weigh less than other domestic cats, giving them a lean look. Savannahs have hooded eyes, flat on top, and large, tall ears on the top of its head.

Ashera: $22,000 – $28,000

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The Ashera stirred up controversy in the feline breeding world. A California biotech company breeded the hybrid cat, said to be a mix between a Serval, Asian Leopard, and domesticated cat that can weigh up to a whopping 30 pounds. Vocal and able to open some doors, the Ashera has a very Savannah-like temperament. Simon Brodie, the company’s founder, said the differences might be minor, but the Ashera is not a Savannah. Brodie was also selling what he called a hypoallergenic variety of Ashera for $5,000 more than the $22,000 base price, and was already selling limited quantities of cats.

In July 2013, ABC News found Brodie in London, where he appeared to be selling Bengals as Asheras.

Savannah breeders disagreed on the legitimacy of this breed. They still argue there is no proof that the Ashera is a new breed, and Brodie was highly secretive of his breeding methods. As of 2019, the major feline organizations, like CFA and TICA, do not recognize the Ashera as a new breed.

If you are not intent on breeding your own expensive feline friend, be sure to spay or neuter your pet. Remember that, especially with hybrids, your cat might have different vet needs, such as with differing amounts of anesthesia, than the typical cat. These expensive cats can also represent an investment, and it’s likely a good idea to inquire about pet insurance to help protect your new friend while simultaneously protecting your wallet against costly vet bills.


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A former newspaper journalist, Cole spends his free time reading, writing, playing video games, watching movies, and learning about every subject under the sun. He lives with his wife and daughter in Idaho. Follow Cole on Twitter: @ColeMayer42

This post was updated April 9, 2019. It was originally published April 9, 2019.