20 Cat Breeds That Keep Small

Even people who claim to hate cats can’t help but fall in love with kittens, with their button noses and playful natures. The problem is, kittens grow up quickly, and while our adult cats are just as wonderful and cute, we often miss kitten days.

However, not all cats grow to the normal adult cat size. Some breeds of domestic cats tend to stay small or are specially bred to be smaller than usual.

It’s important to note that some cats can pay a heavy price to stay tiny. Extreme domestic cat breeding can result in significant life changing, or fatal health conditions that can affect their quality of life.

Many breeds of domestic cats stay tiny, with the exception of fluffy giants like the Norwegian forest and the Maine Coon. But here are 20 types of cats that tend to stay small.

Munchkin

The Munchkin is a relatively new breed of cat, recognizable by its very short, blunt legs caused by a genetic mutation. Although they look cute, the breed has been controversial because of its potential health and mobility issues.

In the 1990s, the International Cat Association came under fire for officially recognizing the breed.

A Munchkin cat pictured outdoors. According to The International Cat Association, Munchkins are an extremely sociable breed that loves company, including children, dogs, and other pets.
Brooks Kraft LLC / Sygma via Getty Images

Singapore

The Singapura is one of the smallest breeds of cats, known for their large eyes and ears and brown-tinted fur. The first Singapura cats were reportedly founded in 1970 by three “Drain cats” from Singapore. However, it was later determined that the cats were from the United States

American curl

The American Curl is another new breed of cats that can be easily recognized by their unusual, ruffled ears. The breed came from a natural genetic mutation that first appeared in a stray black kitten in California, and breeders began selectively breeding the cats to produce the American curl in the 1980s.


A girl poses with her curly American cat during a cat show in Bishkek on March 2, 2019.
Vyacheslav Oseledko / AFP / Getty

Cornish Rex

The Cornish Rex is known for its extremely fine and sometimes curly fur. What is unusual is that Cornish Rees only have an undercoat of fur, rather than the normal outer coat, middle layer, and undercoat that most breeds have. The breed stems from a genetic mutation derived from a litter of kittens that were born on a farm in Cornwall, England in the 1950s.

Devon Rex

The Devon Rex is a breed of cats with a curly, soft short coat similar to that of the Cornish Rex. They are intelligent and can reportedly learn difficult tricks, but in real feline form they can be difficult to motivate.

Devon Rex cat UK 2017
A Devon Rex seen at the Supreme Cat Show on October 28th 2017 in Birmingham, England in the UK
Chris J Ratcliffe / Getty Images

Siamese

Siamese cats have a reputation for being arrogant, but they are actually friendly and tend to seek human interaction. These slender cats have almond-shaped, blue eyes, large ears, and usually point coloring, which means they have a pale body and tail, as well as darker feet and ears. You should come from Thailand.

Balinese

The Balinese are a long haired domestic cat breed also known as the long haired version of the Siamese. It originated as a natural mutation of this breed, but does not come from Indonesia as the name suggests. The first Balinese cats were born in the 19th century after Siamese cats were imported to the United States

Russian blue cat
A Russian blue kitten cat at the National Exhibition Center on October 28, 2017 in Birmingham, England.
Shirlaine Forrest / WireImage / Getty

Russian blue

Russian blue cats have green eyes and luxurious, silver-colored fur that is short and dense. The breed is believed to originate from the Russian port of Arkhangelsk before it was brought to Europe by seafarers in the 19th century.

Abyssinian

The Abyssinian cat may resemble the African wildcat, but it is a small to medium-sized domestic cat. It is believed to have been brought to Europe by soldiers from Ethiopia in the 1860s and is known for its playful demeanor.

These are the smartest breeds of cats
An Abyssinian cat during the 5th TICA International Cat Show at Aoshan Shiji Plaza on October 22, 2016 in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.
Wang He / Getty Images

minuet

The minuet, formerly called Napoleon, is a hybrid mix of Persian and Munchkin cat breeds. The breed is officially recognized by the International Cat Association and was founded by Joseph B. Smith, a judge for the American Kennel Club. Although they have short legs, this is not believed to hinder their mobility.

Lambkin

The Lambkin is a result of the mix of the short-legged Munchkin and the Selkirk Rex. This dwarf breed, believed to have been bred in the late 1980s or early 1990s, has short legs and a distinguishable plush coat.

cat
A cat leans back in its pen before being judged at the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy’s ‘Supreme Championship Cat Show’ in Birmingham, England.
Oli Scarff / Getty Images

Dwelf

The Dwelf is an unusual looking cat that combines the short legs of the Munchkin cat, the hairlessness of the Sphynx cat, and the ruffled ears of the American Curl. The breed is short and stocky at only 6 to 7 inches in height. Like other designer cats, these can be prone to problems due to their selective breeding.

Gray Dwelf Cat
Gray Dwelf Cat
iStock

Japanese bobtail

The Japanese bobtail is a domestic cat breed with an unusual bobtail that looks more like the tail of a rabbit. Native to Japan and Southeast Asia, they are believed to bring good luck, especially tricolor Japanese bobtails. They are often smaller than traditional house cats.

Japanese bobtail cat
Japanese bobtails look out of a cage at the Cat Fanciers’ Association Iams Cat Championship in New York City
Mario Tama / Getty Images

Javanese

The Javanese, also known as the Colorpoint, is related to the Balinese breed but was developed in the United States. Like Siamese cats, the breed is known to be vocal and enjoys interacting and playing with people.

LaPerm

The LaPerm is named after its unusual, curly fur and is known to be very loving. The breed originated in the United States around the early 1980s as a mutation of cats bred for pest control, but became popular because of their appearance. Linda and Dick Koehl from Oregon were the first to create the breed.

Balinese cats UK 2018
Balinese cats seen at the GCCF Cat Show on October 27th 2018 in Birmingham, England in the UK
Shirlaine Forrest / WireImage via Getty Images

Oriental long hair

Female oriental long haired cats are small and weigh less than 8 pounds. Known for their long, triangular head, pointy ears, and large eyes, the breed is extremely playful and intelligent.

Somali

The Somali cat is believed to be the long-haired version of the Abyssinian cat. In the late 1960s, breeders created a long-haired version of the Abyssinian and named it a Somali cat. Although they require regular grooming, they love and enjoy spending time with their people.

Somali cat
A Somali kitten yawns next to a Maine Coon kitten at the ‘Supreme Cat Show’ in Birmingham, England in 2018
Oli Scarff / AFP via Getty Images

Genetta

The Genetta is an extremely short-legged dwarf cat with a striped or marbled fur that is still being developed by breeders. They are believed to be from a variety of breeds such as Bengals, Ocicats, and Munchkins, from which the breed gets its short legs.

child

The Bambino is a new, experimental cat breed that is a cross between a hairless Sphynx and the short-legged Munchkin. The first litter of Bambino cats was first noted in 2005 and the breed is so new that not too much is known about it. However, the development of their breed has been criticized because of the possible health problems the cats may have.

Painting Singapore
A Singaporean cat seen at a cat show organized by the Cat Fancy Governing Council in Birmingham, England on October 27, 2018.
Oli Scarff / AFP via Getty Images

Minskin

The Minskin is a breed of cats derived from intentional hybrid crosses between the Munchkin and Burmese, and Devon Rex and Sphynx. They have scanty coats, short legs, large ears, and distinctive whisker pads. The breed was developed by Paul Richard McSorley in Boston, Massachusetts in 1998.

Kinkalow

The Kinkalow cat breed is a hybrid between the Munchkin and the American Curl. As a result, these dwarf cats have short, stocky legs and ruffled ears, and are a rare breed. It has received experimental breed status from the International Cat Association.