The 10 Most Popular Cat Breeds

Most animal lovers know that the Labrador Retriever has been the most popular dog breed in the U.S. for a long time. He is followed closely by the German Shepherd, the Yorkie, and the Golden Retriever. But how many of us know which cat breeds are the most popular? Just as the top dog breeds are varied in their looks, size and personalities, the top 10 cat breeds in the U.S. are very different from each other.

There are about 90 million pet cats in the U.S. according to census data. This means there are many more whose owners do not claim them as pets even though they take care of them. Many of these cats are identified as domestic longhairs or domestic shorthairs and only about 3-5% are purebred. The list of cat breeds is large - most registries recognize around 40 breeds of cats and at least one new breed is added yearly.

Purebred cat lovers generally choose a breed that is similar to their personality. A person who is reserved and introverted might choose a breed such as the somewhat aloof Scottish Fold or the American Curl. A person who is more outgoing and is looking for a dog-like cat might choose the Manx or the Birman. Cat owners are also drawn to cats based on their looks. From the sleek Siamese to the rough and tumble Maine Coon, you'll find that often a cat does look like his person.

The top ten cat breeds in the U.S. are as varied as their American owners:

1. The Persian: This breed has been number one since the CFA first started keeping records in 1871. Persians are affectionate and loyal but need their long fur groomed every day.

2. The Maine Coon: This breed has been in second place since 1992 and it's no wonder. This is a very gentle, loving creature who is large by cat-size. They weigh between 15 and 25 lbs. and have long fur like the Persian. However, they do not need as much grooming as the Persian.

3. The Exotic: This breed is like a Persian but with short fur. Their nickname is "Persian in Pajamas" because of their coloring. They are sweet like a Persian but only need brushing twice a week.

4. The Siamese: The yowl of a Siamese is very familiar to fanciers of this breed. And it's not just for attention - Siamese like to "chat" with their owners. This is a sleek cat who is very athletic. They usually gravitate to one person and are loyal and loving.

5. The Abyssinian: These cats are considered some of the lookers in the cat world. Thin and elegant with a shiny coat, they are active felines, very playful and friendly.

6. The Ragdoll: This breed gets its name from the way these cats go completely limp in your arms when you pick them up. They are cute and cuddly and large like the Maine Coon, weighing between 10 and 20 lbs. (males tend to be larger). This is a breed that should always be kept inside as they are very docile and would likely not defend themselves outside.

7. The Birman: If you want a cat that is dog-like, the Birman is a good choice. He is friendly, outgoing, even-tempered and flexible, a very rare trait to find in a cat. They are known to come when called and to greet you at the door like a pooch would. They have long silky hair that does not require much grooming.

8. The American Shorthair: This breed originally arrived in America on the Mayflower. They were bred for hunting and thus are excellent hunters, have good health and are a quiet cats. They make great family pets and are especially good with children.

9. The Oriental: This breed looks and behaves like a Siamese but comes in two fur lengths and over 300 color combinations. Their personality is similar to the Siamese but they are quieter.

10. The Sphynx: Known as the "Naked Climber" this breed climbs anything and is lively and athletic. They have an unusual appearance, sans fur, and come in a multitude of different skin colors. They are loyal and loving and demand constant attention.

Whether you want a cat that's sleek and sneaky, bold and beautiful, aloof and intelligent, a purebred or an alley cat, there's a cat for everyone. And everyone should own a cat at least once in their lifetime to experience the complexities and joys of a feline personality.

Photo: Cassia A.