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Chinese Dragon Li Cat Breed Info: Pictures, Temperament & Traits

cat dragon li
Last Updated on November 16, 2023 by Christian Adams
Height:10-14 inches
Weight:9-12 pounds
Lifespan:12-15 years
Colors:Brown, black, gold, tabby
Suitable for:Families with young children and other pets that have time and love to share
Temperament:Gentle, affectionate, friendly, social, playful, intelligent

The Chinese Dragon Li, also called the Chinese Li Hua, is a rare cat breed hailing from Asia. The breed’s history is the source of much debate, but the generally accepted but contentious story is that the Dragon Li domesticated itself naturally from the Chinese Mountain Cat. This is contested by some parties, but it has never been disproven, so it is accepted as being the origin story of this breed.

Unofficially considered the national cat of China, this breed is very rare outside his homeland. He has a tabby coat, a black-tipped tail, and pointed ears. He also has a short coat that requires minimal grooming. The Dragon Li is a skilled hunter and retriever, and he is still used as a working cat in some areas of China.

The breed may be difficult to come by outside China, but he is revered for being friendly and loving.

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Chinese Dragon Li Kittens – Before You Welcome One Into Your Familly…

3 cat face divider3 Little-Known Facts About Chinese Dragon Li

1. The Breed Is Considered Self Domesticated

Although the breed’s roots are contested, the most widely accepted version is that the Chinese Dragon Li breed is a self-domesticated version of the Chinese Mountain Cat. This means that the mountain cat bred with domestic cats or, over a number of generations, became domesticated by spending more and more time with humans. Some wild cats do live close to humans and may accept food from them, but it is rare. The claim that the Chinese Dragon Li is a self-domesticated cat is contentious, but no proof has been given that this isn’t the case and so the story is widely accepted as being true. Chinese official breeding sources agree with this theory of how the breed progressed.

2. It Is The Unofficial Cat Of China

China, as a nation, is known for its love of cats. A white paper on the country’s pet industry estimated that there were more than 40 million cats in China and a new craze of cloud cat keeping has swept the nation. Cloud cat keeping is the art of watching cat vloggers and sharing cat memes with other cat lovers, despite not owning a cat oneself. It is especially popular in cities where residents do not have the space to keep a cat. In this country of cat lovers, it is surprising that there is no official country breed, as none is listed by the Cat Aficionado Association (CAA) or other Chinese cat registries. The Chinese Dragon Li has been adopted as the unofficial cat breed of China and is widely accepted as such.

3. It Is Only Called The Chinese Dragon Li Outside China

The Chinese Dragon Li is only known by this name outside China. Within the borders of the country, the breed is known colloquially as the Li Hua Mao. Li Hua Mao means “fox flower cat”. The name Dragon Li likely comes from the fact that the Chinese revere the symbol of the dragon and it is associated with Chinese culture and history.

dragon li tongue out
Image Credit: Araujo Manuel, Pxhere

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Chinese Dragon Li Cat

A typical Dragon Li is considered a friendly and sweet cat. He will get along with his family as well as strangers and even other animals. In fact, the breed is considered highly social, which means that he not only enjoys but needs time with his family. If left alone for too long, the Dragon Li may suffer from separation anxiety and become stressed and even destructive. As an intelligent breed, the Li Hua Mao will benefit from interactive and other cat toys. Buy him scratch posts, climbing trees, and toys to play with.

Are These Cats Good for Families?

The Chinese Dragon Li is a loving and sweet cat with a caring nature. Most examples of this breed will mix well with people of all ages. They will benefit from having small children around because this will ensure that they have plenty of people to give them affection. The cat is very social, so if you are a single owner, you must be sure that you have plenty of time and attention to give to this breed. Although he will be able to handle some time alone, he may get agitated if left alone while you work all day.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

As well as being a good choice for families, the Chinese Li Hua is a great choice of cat to live with feline companions. He is also known for getting along well with dogs, and many owners will tell you that he gets along better with canines than other felines. The Dragon Li has been used as a working cat, in particular for his prowess chasing and catching rats, so you will need to take care when keeping one of this breed with small animals and especially vermin. Always ensure that your cat and other animals are introduced gradually and don’t try to force the situation. If possible, introduce cats to other cats and dogs when they are all young, because this will make the transition much easier.

dragon li outdoor
Image Credit: Zahaoha, Pxhere

yarn ball dividerThings to Know When Owning a Chinese Dragon Li Cat:

The Chinese Dragon Li is an ancient breed. They are known to get along with all family members, including other cats and dogs. They are active, loving, and playful, but they can be a little demanding and they do require attention. Although they make great family pets, they are not the ideal choice of cat breed for all potential owners. Consider the points below when deciding whether this breed is right for your home.

Food & Diet Requirements

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they should get the majority of their protein, vitamins, and minerals from meat and animal sources. They would not naturally eat a lot of grain in the wild, so you may want to avoid grain-inclusive diets. Choose a dry or wet diet, a combination of the two, or feed a raw food diet to your cat. The amount you feed will depend on the age of your cat, his size, and the type and quality of food that you give.

, adult cats can be fed two or three times a day. You should always provide fresh water, although cats are not known for drinking a lot of water and they will get moisture from any wet food you give them.

Follow the feeding instructions on the food you give, and remember that if you do feed a combination of wet and dry food, you should only feed half of the recommended amount of each.


The breed would benefit from time outdoors, but breeders usually recommend keeping rare breeds like this indoors. It prevents them from being taken and also prevents them from getting sick or picking up illnesses. However, if you do keep a breed of this type indoors, you must be prepared to provide exercise. Buy plenty of energetic and lively toys. Offer a scratching and climbing post, and consider buying a harness so that you can walk your cat or at least take him out in the yard for some fresh air. Interactive cat toys can be provided so that the cat has something to keep him busy while you are out of the house.


It is possible to train most cats to perform a small number of basic commands, although it does take more time and repetition than it does with a dog. Cats tend to be quite independent and they lose interest quickly.

The Chinese Dragon Li cat breed is intelligent, loves its owner, and is happy to please. This combination makes him relatively easy to train and not just with a small list of simple commands. Use clicker training and positive reinforcement. Training a cat usually requires waiting for him to naturally perform a desired action and then rewarding him for it while speaking a command to match. Continue and repeat the process and, eventually, your cat should learn what you want him to do.

dragon li fierce
Image Credit: Pxhere

Grooming ✂️

The breed’s coat is short and soft and it is easy to care for, but you should consider brushing every day. This will remove damaged and broken hair and it will leave your cat more comfortable and less prone to skin irritation and other conditions. Provide flea treatment and deworming treatment according to the cat’s age and the type of treatment that you opt for. Avoid bathing your cat unless it is absolutely necessary because this can strip him of some of the natural oils that protect his coat. Regular bathing will leave your cat with irritable skin and rashes.

Health and Conditions

The breed is considered to be hardy and healthy, with a decent lifespan. But, like most breeds, there are some conditions and illnesses that the Chinese Dragon Li is prone to.

Minor Conditions
  • Gingivitis
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Ringworm
Serious Conditions
  • None

3 cat dividerMale vs Female

There are very few differences between males and females of this species, although some believe the male to be quirkier and the female to be more dignified and even regal in nature.

cat + line dividerFinal Thoughts

The Chinese Dragon Li cat breed is very rare outside its home country of China, where it is more commonly referred to as the Li Hua Mao, or fox flower cat. As such, it can be difficult to find one of this breed, but if you do, then you will have found a cat that is loving, affectionate, and sweet, although he is also known to be vocal and will let you know of any perceived problems he may have. Provide exercise, ensure that he has company from other humans or other animals, and appreciate the fact that he is a hardy cat breed that will not suffer ill health or other complaints.

Featured Image Credit: muzaffer şengül, Pxhere

About the Author

Christian Adams
Christian Adams
Christian is the Editor-in-Chief of Excited Cats and one of its original and primary contributors. A lifelong cat lover, now based in South East Asia, Christian and his wife are the proud parents of an 11-year-old son and four rescue cats: Trixie, Chloe, Sparky, and Chopper.

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