If your big takeaway from Tiger King was that owning big cats looks pretty cool, keep reading. Some cats on this list of rare cat breeds cost as much as a baby tiger. But owning one of these breeds is less risky than one of nature’s perfect 600 pound predators. Aesthetically they don’t compare to a white Bengal tiger, but they also won’t get you entangled with Carole Baskin (who totally did it, right?), PETA, and the US Department of Fish and Wildlife. Without further ado, here are five breeds of cats that will get you influencer numbers on Instagram, without getting you a Netflix mini-series about murder for hire.
Per state regulations, these wild cats native to Africa are an exotic species, but top out at 40 pounds instead of 600. You still need special permits to keep one of these animals, but you can get them from registered breeders and not, say, a roadside attraction. Their diet comprises whole prey and you can expect they’ll be more interested in hunting in the tall grass than cuddling on the couch.
These hairless Russian domesticated cats are striking in appearance, and come with five different coats varying from Bald, described as slightly sticky to the touch, to Straight, with a typical full shorthair coat. The most appealing are the Flock, whose coats feel velvety to the touch and Brush, which is short wiry hair with a texture like felt.
These petite house cats come from Thailand, where locals consider them a good luck charm for the home. They’re affectionate and loyal, preferring to stay close to their family members and enjoy attention. While they can be territorial and possessive of people, their unique blue/silver fur and minimal shedding make them charming roommates.
These are also wild cats native to Africa. At a glance they bear a passing resemblance to mountain lions, with tawny brown coats, expressive black markings on their face, and dramatic tufted ears. While proponents for the domestication of these 40 pound predators claim that selective breeding has made them more docile, they still require large outdoor enclosures, whole prey, and opportunities to use their natural instincts.
Norwegian Forest Cat
Breeders designed these domestic cats to thrive in the cold and snowy Nordic environment. In the 1950s, a royal decree named them the official cat of Norway. They look like magical forest sprites, getting up to 20 pounds with long fluffy fur in a variety of colors. They’re strong climbers with large claws, and can scale both rocks and trees with ease.