20 Cat Breeds That Stay Small

Even people who claim to hate cats can't help falling for kittens, with their button noses and playful nature. The problem is kittens grow up fast and while our adult cats are just as wonderful and cute, we often find ourselves missing the kitten days.

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

It's important to note that some cats can pay a heavy price to stay tiny. Extreme breeding of domestic cats can lead to significant, life-altering or deadly health conditions which can have an impact on their quality of life.

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

Munchkin

The Munchkin is a relatively new breed of cat, recognisable by its very short, stumpy legs which are caused by a genetic mutation. Although they look cute, controversy has surrounded the breed because of its potential health and mobility problems.

In the 1990s, The International Cat Association received criticism when it officially recognised the breed.

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

Singapura

The Singapura is one of the smallest breeds of cats, known for its large eyes and ears and brown-ticked coat. The first Singapura cats were reportedly established from three "drain cats" from Singapore in the 1970, but it was later found the cats originated from the U.S.

American Curl

The American Curl is another new cat breed, easily recognised by its unusual, curled back 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 create the American Curl in the 1980s.

American curl
A girl poses with her American curl cat during a cat exhibition 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. Unusually, Cornish Rees only have an undercoat of fur, instead of the normal outer fur, middle layer and undercoat that most breeds have. The breed comes from a genetic mutation that originated from a litter of kittens born in the 1950s on a farm in Cornwall, England.

Devon Rex

The Devon Rex is a breed of cat with a curly, soft short coat similar to that of the Cornish Rex. They are intelligent and reportedly able to learn difficult tricks, but in true cat form, it can be challenging to motivate them.

Devon rex cat U.K. 2017
A Devon rex seen at the Supreme Cat Show on October 28, 2017 in Birmingham, England in the U.K. Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Siamese

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

Balinese

The Balinese is a long-haired breed of domestic cat that is also known as the long-haired version of the Siamese. It originated as a natural mutation of that breed, but doesn't come from Indonesia, as the name would suggest. The first Balinese cats were born in the 1800s after Siamese cats were imported into the U.S.

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

Russian Blue

Russian Blue cats have green eyes and a luxurious, silver-colored coat, which is short and dense. The breed is believed to come from the port of Arkhangelsk in Russia, before they were taken to Europe by sailors in the 1800s.

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 from Ethiopia by soldiers in the 1860s and is known for its playful demeanor.

These Are the Smartest Cat Breeds
An Abyssinian cat during the 5th TICA international cat show at the Aoshan Shiji Plaza on October 22, 2016, in Wuhan, Hubei province, China. Wang He/Getty Images

Minuet

The Minuet, which used to be called the Napoleon, is a hybrid mix of Persian and Munchkin cat breeds. The breed is officially recognised by The International Cat Association and was created Joseph B. Smith, an American Kennel Club judge. Although they have short legs, this isn't thought to hinder their mobility.

Lambkin

The Lambkin is a result of mixing 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 reclines in its pen before being judged at the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy's 'Supreme Championship Cat Show' held in Birmingham, England. Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Dwelf

The Dwelf is an unusual-looking cat which combines the short legs of the Munchkin cat, the hairlessness of the Sphynx cat and the curled ears of the American Curl. The breed is short at just 6 to 7 inches in height and stocky. Like other designer cats, these may be prone to problems because of their selective breeding.

Grey Dwelf Cat
Grey Dwelf Cat iStock

Japanese Bobtail

The Japanese Bobtail is a breed of domestic cat with an unusual bobtail, which looks more like the tail of a rabbit. They are native to Japan and Southeast Asia and are believed to bring good luck, particularly tri-colored Japanese Bobtails. They are often smaller than traditional domestic cats.

Japanese Bobtail cat
Japanese Bobtails look out from 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 U.S. Like Siamese cats, the breed is known to be vocal and enjoys interacting with humans and playing.

LaPerm

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

Balinese cats U.K. 2018
Balinese cats seen at the GCCF cat show on October 27, 2018 in Birmingham, England in the U.K. Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage via Getty Images

Oriental Longhair

Female Oriental Long-haired cats are small, weighing less than 8 pounds. The breed is known for its long, triangular head, pointed ears and large eyes and 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 called it a Somali cat. Although they require regular grooming, they are loving and enjoy spending time with their humans.

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 either a striped or a marbled coat that is still being developed by breeders. They are understood to have come from a variety of breeds such as bengals, ocicats and munchkins, from which the breed gets its short legs.

Bambino

The Bambino is a new, experimental cat breed that is a cross between a Sphynx, which is hairless, 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 them. However, their breed's development has been subject to criticism because of the potential health problems the cats may have.

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

Minskin

The Minskin is a breed of cat derived from intentional hybrid cross-breedings between the Munchkin and the Burmese, as well as the Devon Rex and the Sphynx. They have sparse coats, short legs, large ears and prominent 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 the curled ears and are a rare breed. It has received Experimental Breed status from The International Cat Association.