Cat breeds have and are still developing in many different countries and on every continent, and Asia is the original home to more popular cat breeds than you may think. The Asian continent has gifted the world with some great breeds, from the glamorous and fluffy cats you may already know to some rare felines depicted in ancient art.
From Japan, China, to Myanmar, these all-Asian cat breeds are unique, historical, and revered as royalty in most parts of this continent. Read on to meet 13 cat breeds, born and bred in the world’s largest continent.
The 13 Asian Cat Breeds
1. Persian Cats
Persians are among the most glamorous and fluffiest long-haired house cat breeds. Their sleek, flowing coats, sweet faces, and relaxed dispositions have made them one of the most popular pedigreed feline species all over America.
This cat’s fame started during the Victorian era, though it existed long before then. Although its early history remains blurry, Persian cats are believed to have originated in Persia (today’s Iran) or Turkey during the 1600s.
Persian cats are the faces of lap cats, playful, curious, graceful, and cuddly. They do not like to climb or jump and make great pets – that is, if you can stand a prolific shedder.
2. Siamese Cats
Here’s a cat of extremes-striking coat colors, bright blue eyes, long and straight nose, a long-triangular head, a slender body, and a short, silky coat that lies close to the body. But Siamese cats are more than just looks. They are also highly trainable, affectionate, extroverted, and undeniably intelligent.
This beautiful feline is among the oldest and legendary cat breeds to originate from Asia. Siamese cats were considered royalty by noblemen, who used them as guard cats.
The first Siamese cats in Europe were gifts from the King of Siam in 1880 to an English-consulate general.
A Burmese cat is an ardent climber and jumper whose favorite hangout place behind the window curtains. This round, heavy-boned, muscular cat with a short, glossy coat originated from Burma (present-day Myanmar) and was a sacred cat in Burma’s temples and monasteries.
These cats made their way to the U.S. when Dr. Joseph C. Thompson came with a cat named Wong Mau to America in 1930. This cat became the ‘founding’ mother to the charming, sweet, and almond-shaped eyes Burmese kitties in your home today.
4. Oriental Shorthair
Oriental Shorthairs look very much like Siamese cats. Breeders tried reviving dwindling Siamese cats after World War II by creating a green-eyed cat that resembled the Siamese kitty but with a range of coat colors.
This cat species is chatty, curious, intelligent, and loving, just like its Siamese cousins. The Oriental Shorthairs are also companionable with prominent personalities and athletic body builds and big ears.
You’d think a Bengal cat is a mini-tiger if you meet it, thanks to its exotic appearance that makes it resemble its wildcat cousins. However, these felines are very much modern-day house pets.
Bengals have roots in Asia and developed when Jean Mill, a California-based breeder, crossed a Domestic Shorthair with an Asian Leopard cat in 1963. She intended to create a kitty with a house cat personality but with an exotic look of a big, wild cat.
She succeeded because these cats inherited a tiger’s characteristics, including distinctive spots and energy. But one interesting about these cats is their love for water!
Korat cat breeds come from Thailand, in a region known as Nakhon Ratchasima. Korat cats are considered rare, though ancient artifacts place them back to the 13th century.
This silvery-blue is a living good-luck charm in its home country, also known as the Si-Sawat cat. Korat cats first came to Europe in the 1800s and became known as the ‘blue Siamese’ due to their Siamese-like resemblance and blue coats.
7. Japanese Bobtail
Artifacts from Japan and Southeast Asia place these felines back to 1,000 years ago. Japanese Bobtails get their names from their shortened, stubby, bunny-like tails, often referred to as ‘pom,’ which are their most distinctive features. Their tails are a result of naturally occurring genetic mutation.
Some sources suggest Japanese Bobtails originated in China and Korea, while others believe they came from Japan and were introduced by Japanese monks who used the cats to protect their scrolls from rodents. It was illegal to own one of these cats back then before they became domesticated house pets.
8. Turkish Angora
Turkish Angoras are a naturally occurring breed-meaning; they evolved without human intervention. These cats are believed to have originated from Turkey around the 15th century.
Sources suggest that this even, graceful cat with a fine glossy coat sitting on a firm, long muscular body occurred from a genetic mutation in an African wildcat. On the other hand, others believe that Angoras developed their long, silky coats to cushion themselves from Ankara’s (formerly Angora) severe climatic conditions.
Cat-fanciers regard these cats as good-natured but determined, highly intelligent, and are good swimmers. Angora’s are typically white, though they may come in various colors.
9. Dragon Li
Dragon Li is a small well-muscled breed with a distinctive wild appearance. It is also known as Li Hua Mao-translating to “fox flower cat” in Chinese and is thought to be among the oldest known cat breeds that also occurred naturally.
Although the Dragon Li cat breeds are rarely seen beyond China, the Chinese consider them their national cat. These cats can fill your household with endless fun and games. However, Dragon Li cats are not snugglers and will not appreciate sitting on your lap.
Tonkinese cats are relatively new, developed in 1960 when a breeder crossed a Siamese and a Burmese cat, creating a breed with both worlds’ best traits. This cat has a moderate body type and a less-piercing voice that differs from the Siamese’s long body type and sharp voice.
These felines are friendly, loving, and intelligent, a trait shared by both the Siamese and the Burmese. Also known as “The Tonk”, these cat breeds demand attention and affection from their owners and won’t rest until you notice them.
The Thai cat is a naturally occurring breed famous for being pleasant, chatty, and friendly. These cats come from Thailand, where they were also known as “Wichienmaat,” which means “moon diamond.”
These short-haired and people-oriented cats have distinct blue eyes, pale off-white body coats, and dark extremities (dark-brown hair on the face, ears, paws, and tail). Cat lovers find them affectionate with dog-like dispositions.
The Raas cats are an isolated breed of felines from a remote island called Raas, which stretches 250 km east of Java, an Indonesian island. You’ll rarely find these cats beyond the Raas island.
You won’t overlook that both the Siamese and the Burmese share the Raas cat breeds because they are elegant-looking, have similar traits to a jungle cat or a leopard, a more graceful appearance, and a larger than most cat breeds.
Their faces are a little square-like, with dark-green and oval-shaped eyes that are not too wide, almost tapered chins, and bent tails. The Raas cat usually comes in gray or mink and is energetic, stubborn, playful, and unadaptable, with attitudes that make them hard to please.
The Singapura cat breeds (Pronounced “sing-uh-poor-uh”) are petite pets packing lots of personalities into their tiny bodies. These playful and relatively rare felines have a messy and controversial history.
Initially, two cat fanciers Tommy and Hal Meadow, suggested they brought three Singapuras to America from Singapore. Years later, Singapore found out that the three cats had been brought to Singapore by the couple from the U.S. instead.
On the other hand, DNA studies speculate that the Singapura is a cross between a Burmese and Abyssinian cat and that they were first bred in America by the Meadows before returning to Singapore.
Singapura is a micro-sized cat breed, the smallest domestic cat with large eyes, ears, and a fine coat, bearing no similarity to Singapore’s typical street cats.
Being the most populous and the largest continent, it’s unsurprising that so many Asian cat breeds that the continent has revered for ages are continuously becoming the household pet names in America and the rest of the world.
Featured Image: Aymara Herrera, Shutterstock