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Home > Cats > 8 Most Popular Cat Breeds in India: Pictures, Facts & History

8 Most Popular Cat Breeds in India: Pictures, Facts & History

woman feeding cat food to two cats at a pet hotel

Like in many other countries, dogs are the most popular pets in India, but cats hold the position of second place. With 20% of pet owners in India owning cats, you might wonder which breeds are the most popular there.1

Maybe you’re moving to the country and want to know whether your cat will fit in with your neighbors, or perhaps you’re just visiting and are curious about your fellow cat owners and the cats that you might meet. This list of the most popular cat breeds in India will introduce you to the breeds that the country loves best 2.

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The 8 Most Popular Cat Breeds in India

1. American Bobtail

American Bobtail
Image Credit: OrangeGroup, Shutterstock
Origin: 1960s in Iowa, U.S.A.
Life Span: 15–20 years
Temperament: Friendly, adaptable, affectionate

Fondly known as the “Golden Retriever of the Cat World,” the American Bobtail has only been around since the 1960s, but they’re already a big favorite for their easy-going and friendly temperament. They were developed by John and Brenda Sanders, an American couple in Iowa who found a male bobtail cat called Yodi when they vacationed in Arizona.

Upon being brought home, Yodi was bred with the couple’s long-tailed cat, Mishi. The kittens had bobbed tails, and the couple began developing the new breed with the help of Mindy Shoultz and Charlotte Bentley.

These days, American Bobtail cats have naturally short tails ranging from 1 to 4 inches in length. They’re notorious for their friendly, gregarious natures and adapt well to all types of living situations, from small RVs to large homes. These cats are also well-loved for their exotic, spotted coat and are popular across the world, including in India.


2. Indian Billi

Indian Billi breed also known as Indian common cat
Image Credit: Vyas Abhishek, Shutterstock
Origin: India
Life Span: 10–18 years
Temperament: Friendly, shy, quiet

Of the popular cat breeds in India, the Indian Billi or the Spotted Cat is the most common and recognized by their distinctive spotted coat. While native to India, their history is a little uncertain, and they’re mostly regarded as street cats due to how common it is to see them on the streets. Foreign breeds like the American Bobtail or the Persian are more popular.

Despite many Billi cats having limited human interaction, they’re a friendly breed and due to their gentle nature, make excellent pets when tamed. Although they don’t live long when they’re on the streets, a Billi can live up to 18 years in a loving home.

With 9.1 million stray cats in India 3, The Indian Cat Federation and cat fanciers are working to get the native breeds internationally recognized to help encourage adoption.


3. Bengal

a bengal cat on a cat tree
Image Credit: Shvaygert Ekaterina, Shutterstock
Origin: California, 1963
Life Span: 12–15 years
Temperament: Intelligent, confident, energetic

Stories of Bengal-like cats can be traced back a few hundred years, but the first cat recognized as a Bengal was in 1963. Jean Mill, a breeder based in California, was the first person to develop the breed by crossing an Asian Leopard cat with a Domestic Shorthair.

From there, she worked to maintain the breed’s exotic coat patterning while developing a calm, friendly nature to make them beloved pets. They’re still a relatively young breed and are considered a hybrid rather than a pedigree by many breed associations.

The Bengal is energetic and highly intelligent, making them a challenging but fun cat to own. They adore being around their family members despite their wild ancestors, and you’ll often find them on top of cabinets. While they’re an expensive breed to buy due to their wildcat appearance, they’re still a favorite for cat lovers around the world.


4. Bombay

bombay cat standing in a tree
Image Credit: Viktor Sergeevich, Shutterstock
Origin: 1958 in Louisville, Kentucky
Life Span: 12–18+ years
Temperament: Sociable, playful, intelligent

With their ebony fur and bright green or orange eyes, Bombay cats look like miniature panthers. While they have the appearance of a wildcat, they don’t actually have wild ancestors and are fully domesticated. They’re intelligent and love to be noticed, especially by their family members.

Despite their name, they’re not native to Bombay but are still a favorite in India. There are two varieties of the breed, and both were developed in the U.S.A. and the U.K.

Most people are familiar with the American Bombay. Nikki Horner, a breeder in Louisville, Kentucky in 1958, bred Burmese cats with American Shorthairs in an attempt to create a breed that resembled a wildcat with none of the wild temperament. The British Bombay is incredibly similar in temperament and looks. Unlike their American cousins, they were bred from the Burmese and the British Shorthair and are recognized by their green or gold eyes.


5. Himalayan

Himalayan cat
Image Credit: Nattapong Pongpiyapan, Shutterstock
Origin: 1930s, U.S.A.
Life Span: 9–15 years
Temperament: Gentle, calm, affectionate

A long-haired breed that is popular in India is the Himalayan. These cats were first bred in 1931 by crossing Persian cats with Siamese cats. The goal was to develop a cat with the long, luscious fur and squashed nose of the Persian with the color-pointed fur of the Siamese.

While breeding began in the 1930s, it wasn’t until the 1950s that other cat breeders in the U.K. and the U.S.A. began properly developing the Himalayan cat. Although they sought breed recognition, the Himalayan cat’s similarity with the Persian breed has led to a few cat breed associations considering them to be a variation of the Persian rather than a breed of their own.

Whether they’re considered a pedigree breed or a variation, though, the Himalayan is a beautifully elegant cat with a gentle, docile, and affectionate nature.


6. Maine Coon

maine coon cat resting at the top of the cat tree
Image Credit: VLADIMIR LVP, Shutterstock
Origin: 1860s. Maine, U.S.A.
Life Span: 12–15 years
Temperament: Sociable, affectionate, playful

The largest domesticated cat is a beloved and sought-after companion throughout the U.S.A., so it’s no surprise that they’re also one of the most popular breeds in India. The Maine Coon is recognized for their long and fluffy coat, size, and gentle temperament.

Believed to be descended from longhaired breeds brought to the U.S.A. by the Vikings that were then bred with the native shorthaired breeds, the Maine Coon is one of the oldest American breeds. Their history can be traced back to the 1860s, when farmers in Maine kept them as barn cats and frequently took them to local competitions.


7. Persian

persian cat lyingn wood shelf
Image Credit: ANURAK PONGPATIMET, Shutterstock
Origin: 1684 BC, Persia (Iran)
Life Span: 12–17 years
Temperament: Sweet, gentle, quiet

The history of the Persian is vague despite the breed being one of the oldest around, with records going back as far as 1684 B.C. in hieroglyphic references. They’re a popular breed all around the world, and their thick and luscious coat, round-tipped ears, and squashed noses have endeared them to cat owners everywhere.

Persians are also among the easiest cats to entertain, with a fondness for quiet homes and polite playtime. Their long fur needs work to keep in top condition, and they always love to find a lap to nap on, but they’re also fine with being left alone while their owners are at work.


8. Siamese

a siamese cat on the deck of a boat
Image Credit: ela_elarts, Shutterstock
Origin: Siam (Thailand)
Life Span: 10–18 years
Temperament: Talkative, intelligent

Loved for their distinctive color-point patterning, the Siamese is an old breed that’s popular all across the world. They’re friendly, affectionate, and intelligent with a loyal disposition that often rivals that of dogs. Although their tendency to talk frequently makes some people avoid these cats, others adore their attentive and sociable temperaments.

Originating in Thailand, which was once called Siam, the Siamese used to guard Buddhist temples. They were particularly adored by royalty due to their beautiful fur coloring and were believed to carry the souls of deceased family members. These days, they’re found in all sorts of households and love following their owners around just to chatter about their day.

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How to Choose a Cat in India

A cat is a big responsibility, and the process of choosing one to add to your family is the same all over the world. Whether you’re in India or the U.S.A., you need to make sure that you have the means to care for your pet and that their personality matches yours.

As always, consider adopting over shopping. Just as many cats are living on the streets in India as there are anywhere else, and many are likely to be native to the country. While it’s nice to have a popular cat that everyone recognizes, less well-known animals need love too.

You can also show your support for the local shelters and rescues by adopting abandoned or surrendered animals. This helps a cat that needs a loving home and enables the shelter to free up space for the next animal that needs it.

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Final Thoughts

Although cats might not have always been popular pets in India, the number of cat owners is steadily increasing. Many pet cats are former street cats, but the most popular breeds are also adored in the country.

Whenever you’re traveling to a new place, it can be reassuring to know that the cat breeds that you know and love at home are just as common overseas too. Don’t forget to spare a few scratches for all the mixed breeds that you might stumble across during your trip!


Featured Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

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