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The Most Expensive Cat Breeds for the Discerning Feline Admirer

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When you love your pet, you’ll spare no expense to make them happy. Often, our cats live in greater luxury than we do. Automatic water fountains provide a constant supply of fresh water. Cozy hammocks or luxurious beds to ensure they sleep undisturbed. And the food. We buy them food packed with ingredients healthier and more expensive than the ramen noodles we choke down at lunch! We wouldn’t hesitate to spend our last cent keeping our beloved felines happy. But have you ever considered how much you might spend to bring a furry friend INTO your home? Exactly what does it cost to own one of the most expensive cat breeds? And which cats have that honorable distinction? If you’ve ever wondered, we have the pricey answers!

Feline Numbers

When it comes to owning expensive pets, most people don’t think of cats. Hefty purchase prices usually conjure images of exotic animals or even some of the more unusual dog breeds. However, when you start exploring rarer cat breeds, obtaining a kitten boosts the price into the premium range. After all, the average cat can only produce five litters a year. (This assumes healthy reproductive methods. Unfortunately, catteries – the feline version of puppy mills – DO exist!) Litter size varies, and the most expensive cat breeds often have waiting lists.

Why? Easy – cats come in second on the popularity list for pets in the United States! To date, there’s an average of 94.2 MILLION cats in 47.1 million households across the country. And feline admirers don’t hesitate to spend an average of $1,200 a year on their beloved cat’s care and comfort. (Cat lovers know how to pamper their fuzzy companions!)

Surprisingly, though, only FOUR PERCENT of those cats get purchased from breeders. The most expensive cat breeds have ardent admirers and followers, but purchasers? Not so much.

Adopt, DON’T Shop!

Everyone has their favorite cat breed – which may or may not fall on this list. This is one of the reasons unscrupulous catteries continue to exist. If you fall in love with a specific type of cat, make sure you do your homework. NEVER purchase a cat from a pet store. Research your chosen breeder carefully and make sure you’re not supporting a mill.

And if you want to do the best thing for the cat? Find a rescue organization. Many cats get turned into shelters or rescues when owners struggle to maintain care or cope with personality traits. Rescues understand the needs of the particular cat breed, and they’ll grill you appropriately. Also, you’ll end up with a reduced fee. This means you’ll end up the happy owner of one of the most expensive cat breeds – at a MUCH better cost!

The Most Expensive Cat Breeds

It’s tempting to put the most expensive cat breeds on a gilded pedestal. However, these felines require the same level of care as the average cat. You’ll need to provide a healthy environment and expect the same kitten behaviors. And some of these cat breeds come with health concerns. So it’s a good idea to set up pet insurance or a savings account, but that’s always a good plan. (I’ve only owned rescues, and my vet bills have spanned the spectrum)

Always do your homework, especially if you’re planning to spend this kind of money. A reputable breeder WILL quiz you to make sure you’re prepared, but they may miss something. The last thing a rescue needs is one more kitty, fallen from the grace of the most expensive cat breed club.

The Most Expensive Cat Breeds: $600-$1,000

Never imagined you’d spend $600 on a cat, did you? These entries start our list of the most expensive cat breeds – and we’re over $500! With distinctive lineages, these felines set themselves apart from their “common” cousins. Unhappily, they end up mistaken for their less expensive counterparts to the uninformed. You need a true cat brain to tell the difference – and understand why you’re reaching for your credit card!

  • American Shorthair: Don’t confuse the American Shorthair with the everyday Domestic Shorthair – they’re two different cats. The Americans date their origin to cats accompanying the Pilgrims on the Mayflower! The breed received an official pedigree in the 1960s (to clear up the confusion). They set themselves apart with round faces, short ears, and muscular chests and legs. These cats have sweet temperaments and a penchant for rat-catching. They earn a place on the most expensive cat breed list due to their distinguished history and work ethic.
  • British Shorthair: British Shorthairs migrated to the United Kingdom with the invading Roman army. Their ancient Roman ancestors worked so efficiently at dispatching vermin, soldiers wanted to keep them. A glance confuses people into thinking they’re a Domestic Shorthair. But these felines have a chubbier profile and rounder faces. As a matter of fact, they stood as Lewis Carroll’s model for the Cheshire Cat! They’re known for their wide, copper eyes and a bluish tint to their fur. And despite their adorable appearance, they aren’t common, driving their cost into the four-digit range.
  • Maine Coon: You’ll often find long-haired cats labeled Maine Coons. However, if they come in under 20 pounds in a HEALTHY weight, they’re imposters. These natives of the northeast United States tip the scales and achieve MASSIVE sizes. Triangular faces topped with tufted ears and a shaggy coat protected the original Maine Coons from harsh winters. These felines also don’t meow. They make a cross between a meow and a purr, known as a chirp or trill. And they ADORE water, joining their owners in the shower. Unhappily, they’re genetically predisposed to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM).

The Most Expensive Cat Breeds: $1,200

The price has already doubled! A simple genetic variation often leads to a special trait, producing one of the most expensive cat breeds. As the trait may not appear in every litter, waiting lists get longer. The rarer an expression, the more costly a kitten. If you want one of these unique looks, expect to start saving your pennies (and bide your time with A LOT of patience!).

  • American Curl: The American Curl’s journey began in 1981 in Lakewood, California. A stray black and white kitten wandered into the home of Joe and Grace Ruga, sporting ears that curled backward. They named her Shulamith, and she became the mother of the breed. American Curls have long, silky coats and those trademark ears resulting from a random genetic mutation. Kittens start with straight ears, which gradually roll back as they grow. They’re quiet cats but extremely affectionate. However, the mutation’s random expression means excessive waiting lists – and a high price. If you want to spend even MORE, the Elf Cat is the newest incarnation. It’s a cross between the American Curl and the Sphynx. These rarities come in at $2,000!
  • American Wirehair: Like the American Curl, the American Wirehair appeared due to a spontaneous mutation. In 1966, farm cats in upstate New York showed up in a litter with wiry fur (as opposed to soft plush). They come in every pattern you’d see in a Domestic Shorthair, but with a wirehair coat. You only need to brush them once a year when they’re shedding – a boon for most cat owners! American Wirehairs also have a bonus of excellent health and cunning minds. You’ll want to make sure you have engaging toys to keep them entertained.
  • Ragdoll: The Ragdoll doesn’t have a mutation to credit for their beautiful pattern – just genetics. In the 1960s, a long-haired white cat crossed with a black and white cat sporting mittens. The result was a beautiful white body with points of dark color on the face, legs, and tail. (Kittens are born white, not earning their points until ten days old) And, of course, their china-blue eyes. The name “Ragdoll” comes from their tendency to go limp when picked up. They have one of the sweetest temperaments in the cat world. With a personality that works with anyone and anywhere, people clamor to add them to their homes, and waiting lists go into the months.

The Most Expensive Cat Breeds: $3,000

As cats become rarer and harder to find, their purchase price escalates. It’s a basic lesson in economics (which I’m sure you were expecting to find here, right?). While not necessarily out of the ordinary, these entries to the most expensive cat breeds list don’t make frequent appearances. If you happen to spot one or two in your entire lifetime, consider yourself lucky. Even in the veterinary field, they don’t pop up every often.

  • Russian Blue: Despite popular belief, a grey cat does NOT equate to a Russian Blue. This ancient cat breed traces back to the city of Archangel in Russia. In 1875, British soldiers fell in love with their fur’s soft blue tint and the slight upturn of their mouths. They brought the cats back to England, calling them Archangel Cats. Russian Blues have distinct green eyes and aloof personalities with strangers – though they adore their owners. They also carry low levels of the allergen Fel-D1. This is the glycoprotein in feline saliva that prompts most people to end up allergic to cats. This makes them one of the more “hypoallergenic” options out there.
  • Scottish Fold: In 1961, a shepherd in Tayside, Scotland, named William Ross, discovered a white kitten on his farm. She had ears that folded down and forward. He named her Susie, and she became the matriarch of the Scottish Fold breed. The folded ears are a dominant genetic trait, affecting ALL of the cartilage in the cat’s body. As such, the genetic trait becomes dangerous when two Scottish Folds come together. Breeders need to match cats carefully, and owners need to keep an eye out for degenerative joint issues. Due to the risks with breeding, waiting lists often grow extensively. And if you’re interested in adorable Scottish Kilts – a cross between a Scottish Fold and a Munchkin – expect to wait longer AND pay more!
  • Sphynx: Crazy as it sounds, the exotic-looking Sphynx originated from a Domestic Shorthair – in Toronto, Canada! In 1966, a mother cat gave birth to a hairless kitten. It was the result of the expression of a recessive gene. People immediately fell in love with the hairless breed. Many adore the resemblance to the Egyptian imagery of the Goddess Bast. You won’t spend time dealing with shed hair, but you WILL bathe your Sphynx regularly to cope with their oily skin. They’re also an extremely needy cat (in addition to being one of the most expensive cat breeds). You can’t leave them without coping with separation anxiety. Oh, and they’re genetically predisposed to HCM, so add that to your anticipated budget.

The Most Expensive Cat Breeds: Over $5,000

If you have your heart set on the top of the most expensive cat breed list, prepare to break the budget. Not only do these felines require an investment to bring home, but you’ll also have to prepare to handle some special needs. Surprisingly, the exceptional costs don’t make these cats any less popular. If anything, it seems to BOOST their popularity!

  • Bengal: Bengals started in the 1970s when an Asian Leopard Cat was crossed with either an Abyssinian or Egyptian Mau. The result was an enormous feline with a wild cat’s pattern – and a personality on the feral side. Anyone looking to bring home this member of the most expensive cat breed list needs A LOT of preparation (and careful thought). Bengals come with excessive levels of energy and vocalization. They also pose a potential threat to smaller animals in the household. You may also find yourself trekking to the vet for HCM concerns. DO YOUR HOMEWORK!
  • Persian: Officially, Persians started in the 1800s in Iran’s region (known as Persia at that time – which is where their name came from). However, that’s when the first record appeared, and most Persian lovers assure you the breed existed in the B.C. era. Everyone recognizes their flat-faced sweetness and long, luxurious coat – which MUST get brushed DAILY to prevent mats. Their faces cause them to snore, cough, and even struggle to eat properly, depending on HOW flat their noses are. You’ll need to keep an eye on them. They top the list in cost through sheer popularity (everyone wants one!), and the more regal your Persian’s pedigree, the higher the price.
  • Peterbald: The Peterbald appeared in Russia’s Peterbald region in 1988 after pairing an Oriental Shorthair with a Donskoy (another hairless breed). The hairless trait came through as dominant (compared to the recessive gene in the Sphynx). You’ll find hairless versions OR versions with a peach-like fuzzy bristle. They’re muscular and intelligent and not quite as needy as the Sphynx. However, as they’re a little late to the party, you’ll struggle to find Peterbalds, making them pricey.

Caviar and Gold Scratching Posts

Everyone has their favorite cat breeds. Some people just happen to admire and crave some of the most expensive cat breeds available. And there’s nothing wrong with that – EVERY cat deserves a loving home. As long as you’re doing your homework, researching the breeder, and exercising a reasonable thought process (NO impulse purchases!), that’s what matters. However, consider looking for a rescue FIRST. Those cats want the chance at a forever home, too – and they don’t know what kind of price tag they’re supposed to have.

After all, you can’t put a price on a cat purring away in your lap!

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Andria Kennedy

Andria Kennedy

Andria Kennedy worked as a Licensed Veterinary Technician for 10 years, focusing on Emergency/ICU and later Cardiology, as well as volunteering at both the Philadelphia Zoo and Virginia Living Museum for over six years. She's now a freelance writer, but she gravitates toward writing projects with a focus on animals (once an animal-lover, always an animal-lover). She lives in Virginia with her husband, three cats (one "works" as her personal assistant), and a Greyhound who thinks she's a big cat — all of them rescues.

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