20 Black Cat Breeds (Because Whoever Said They're Bad Luck Was So Wrong) (2024)

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Set your superstitions aside, folks

20 Black Cat Breeds (Because Whoever Said They're Bad Luck Was So Wrong) (1)

By Sarah Ashley

Published Nov 3, 2023

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Technically, Black Cat Appreciation Day is August 17. But this cat mom celebrates it year-round. My black cat is a gorgeous American shorthair with lanky limbs and bright, yellow-green eyes. Black cats have symbolized good luck charms to Irish sailors and bad omens to Medieval peasants. Basepaws, a company that makes DNA kits for dogs and cats, reports that black fur could mean a greater ability to ward off disease. There’s no single “black cat breed,” nor does black fur alone indicate a specific breed. Many cat breeds come in a variety of colors and patterns, including all black, mostly black and smokey black. The closest thing to a black cat breed is the Bombay. Bombays always have sleek, black coats and copper-colored eyes. Beyond the Bombay, you can find a black coat on just about any breed of cat—and this writer highly recommends them.

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1. Bombay

  • Height: 9-13 inches
  • Weight: 8-15 pounds
  • Personality: curious, lively
  • Coat: short-haired, low-maintenance
  • Color: black
  • Life Expectancy: 9-13 years

Bred to look like the wild black leopards of India, Bombay cats are loving pets who adore their families. A mix between Burmese and American Shorthair cats, Bombays have striking copper-colored eyes. They are intelligent and therefore eager to explore and play. Highly adaptable to different environments and social groups, they make excellent family pets or solo companions. Bombay cats are the only breed that only comes in black and are also very rare.

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2. Cornish Rex

  • Height: 8-12 inches
  • Weight: 6-10 pounds
  • Personality: charming, playful
  • Coat: short, curly or wavy
  • Color: solid black, white, gray, red, lilac; tabby, calico or tortoiseshell
  • Life Expectancy: 9-13+ years

Cornish Rex cats have super silky, curly coats and large, perky ears. Get ready for their kitten tendencies to stick around (aka, be ready for lots of playtime and curious climbing). On the smaller side, Cornish Rexes don’t let their size hold them back. These adventurous athletes are considered one of the naughtier cat breeds and will go where no cat has gone before!

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3. American Bobtail

  • Height: 9-10 inches
  • Weight: 7-16 pounds
  • Personality: affectionate, friendly
  • Coat: shorthair and longhair versions
  • Color: variety of colors and patterns
  • Life Expectancy: 11-15+ years

American Bobtails have adventurous spirits. They bond quickly and firmly to their families and enjoy frolicking in the outdoors (try harness training if you own one!). Unafraid to shower their families with affection, these cats are solid travel companions and therapy animals.

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4. American Curl

  • Height: 9-12 inches
  • Weight: 5-10 pounds
  • Personality: smart, sweet
  • Coat: short or long, silky
  • Color: variety of colors and patterns
  • Life Expectancy: 10-20 years

The curled ears on American Curl cats are au naturel! Aside from this signature look, these sweeties are known for their soft “coo-ing” in lieu of loud “meows.” Incredibly social and polite, they’ll happily trot behind you wherever you go.

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5. Peterbald

  • Height: 8-12 inches
  • Weight: 5-10 pounds
  • Personality: loyal, affectionate
  • Coat: hairless or short, fine hair
  • Color: variety of colors
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15+ years

As one of the most affectionate cat breeds out there, Peterbalds will cuddle relentlessly. They’re also incredibly intelligent, so be prepared to entertain them with interactive toys and clever games. Though they don’t have traditional coats, they can still carry the black cat gene. Peterbalds usually feel velvety to the touch.

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6. Norwegian Forest

  • Height: 9-12 inches
  • Weight: 8-12 pounds (females), 12-18 pounds (males)
  • Personality: independent, loving
  • Coat: long, double coat, coarse
  • Color: various (known for white and tabby mix)
  • Life Expectancy: 13-20 years

Say hello to a very chill cat. The Norwegian Forest cat is a large cat breed with a gentle, loving disposition. Though known for being white and tabby colored, they do come in shades of black. Families with wild schedules or other pets will find the Norwegian Forest cat adapts well to change and chaos.

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7. Maine Coon

  • Height: 10-16 inches
  • Weight: 12-15 pounds (females), 18-25 pounds (males)
  • Personality: weet, smart
  • Coat: long, silky
  • Color: various colors and patterns
  • Life expectancy: 12-20 years

As one of the friendliest cat breeds out there (and very good with kids), the Maine Coon is a prime example of a black cat who defies bad luck stereotypes. These lovable lumps are laid-back yet playful, affectionate yet undemanding.

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8. Japanese Bobtail

  • Height: 8-9 inches
  • Weight: 6-10 pounds
  • Personality: active, loving
  • Coat: shorthair and longhair varieties, bobbed tail
  • Color: various colors and patterns
  • Life Expectancy: 9-13+ years

Another kid-friendly cat is the Japanese Bobtail! These athletic felines are known as the good luck cats of Japan. More vocal than other breeds, Japanese Bobtails aren’t shy about announcing themselves and engaging with their families. Fun fact: No two bobbed tails are the same.

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9. Devon Rex

  • Height: 10-12 inches
  • Weight: 5-9 pounds
  • Personality: devoted, mischievous
  • Coat: short, curly or wavy
  • Color: various colors and patterns
  • Life Expectancy: 14-17+ years

The Devon Rex is one of the smallest cat breeds around. This is good news for many owners because Devons like to perch on shoulders and The International Cat Association says they stick to you “like Velcro.” These sweeties will become destructive if they get bored, so make sure they have plenty of stimulating activities throughout the day.

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10. British Shorthair

  • Height: 12-14 inches
  • Weight: 7-12 pounds (females), 9-17 pounds (males)
  • Personality: adaptable, affectionate
  • Coat: short, dense
  • Color: variety of colors and patterns (best known for blue-grey)
  • Life expectancy: 12-20 years

Thought to have originated in ancient Rome as tiny hunters, British Shorthair cats are now known for their mellow personalities. More often than not, British Shorthairs have blue-grey coats; but, if you see one with jet black fur, chances are they’ll also have golden-yellow eyes.

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11. Siberian

  • Height: 10-12 inches
  • Weight: 12-20 pounds
  • Personality: intelligent, mellow
  • Coat: long, triple-layered
  • Color: various colors and patterns
  • Life expectancy: 10-18 years

An ancient breed hailing from Russia, the Siberian is a thick, strong feline with a luscious coat. Be prepared to groom these cats regularly (aka, brush several times a week to ensure their coats don’t mat or tangle). Other than that, they are patient, loving pets.

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12. Persian

  • Height: 10-15 inches
  • Weight: 7-12 pounds
  • Personality: gentle, calm
  • Coat: long, fluffy
  • Color: variety of colors and patterns
  • Life Expectancy: 8-11 years

Persians have a signature look—a flat face with large eyes and cheeks. These fluffballs are some of the sweetest cats you can find. Their gentle demeanor makes them ideal for mellow environments and low-key families. It might not be wise to pair them with rambunctious cats like Bengals or Peterbalds.

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13. Oriental Shorthair

  • Height: 9-11 inches
  • Weight: 5-10 pounds
  • Personality: smart, affectionate
  • Coat: shorthair
  • Color: variety of colors and patterns (often tortoiseshell or tabby coloration)
  • Life Expectancy: 10-20+ years

Oriental shorthair cats are members of the Siamese group along with Oriental Longhair, Balinese and Siamese cats. Interestingly, they were bred specifically to explore a wider variety of coat colors and patterns. So, while their counterparts are limited to pointed coloration, Oriental Shorthairs come in just about every color and pattern possible. They are smart, elegant and muscular creatures ready to play at a moment’s notice.

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14. American Shorthair

  • Height: 9-11 inches
  • Weight: 6-15 pounds
  • Personality: loyal, social
  • Coat: short, thick
  • Color: variety of colors and patterns
  • Life Expectancy: 15-20 years

The ideal family cat? Perhaps. American Shorthairs are loyal animals with gentle, social dispositions. They do well around kids, other pets and just about any friend who stops by. Known in the 1800s for their rat-catching skills, today these felines are adored for their companionship and adaptability.

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15. American Wirehair

  • Height: 9-11 inches
  • Weight: 8-11 pounds
  • Personality: doting, outgoing
  • Coat: short, coarse, crimped or curled
  • Color: variety of colors and patterns
  • Life Expectancy: 10-16 years

American Wirehair cats happened naturally, and breeders simply embraced their coarse, wiry strands. The wirehair gene is dominant, and it only takes one parent with it to produce a wirehaired offspring. These kitties are a lot like American Shorthairs: friendly, loyal and sweet...kinda like dogs.

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16. Selkirk Rex

  • Height: 9-11 inches
  • Weight: 6-16 pounds
  • Personality: even-tempered, friendly
  • Coat: short or long, dense, curly
  • Color: variety of colors and patterns
  • Life Expectancy: 10-15 years

The whiskers on a Selkirk Rex are almost as curly-cued as their fur. Brushing curly coats a few times a week is recommended to keep them free of tangles. These calm cats enjoy lengthy cuddle sessions. Some might not mind joining you on walks, though others prefer a cozy night in with their family.

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17. Turkish Angora

  • Height: 9-14 inches
  • Weight: 5-15 pounds
  • Personality: affectionate, intelligent
  • Coat: long, silky
  • Color: variety of colors and patterns
  • Life Expectancy: 10-20+ years

Turkish Angoras are known for having silky white coats, but they do come in deep shades of black. In fact, the CFA says breeders are embracing a wider variety of coat colors and patterns in Turkish Angora lines. Get ready to stumble across this cat in spots you didn’t know they could reach or in the laps of new people who stop by. They are outgoing and very smart.

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18. LaPerm

  • Height: 6-10 inches
  • Weight: 6-12 pounds
  • Personality: adaptable, doting
  • Coat: curly
  • Color: variety of colors and patterns
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

Despite their curly-cue fur, the LaPerm coat is pretty low maintenance. These cats can come with long or short fur and in a variety of colors and patterns, including black. A relationship with a LaPerm is just that: a two-way street. Don’t expect to be able to leave them home alone all day. These curly cats thrive on playtime and lap naps. Less vocal than other breeds, these cats prefer to show their love.

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19. Ragdoll

  • Height: 9-11 inches
  • Weight: 10-15 pounds (females), 15-20 pounds (males)
  • Personality: sweet, patient
  • Coat: long, soft
  • Color: white bodies, pointed markings
  • Life Expectancy: 13-18 years

Ragdolls are known as one of the longest living cat breeds. They get their names from their sweet, patient demeanor and ability to gel well with kids (who may like to grab at and pick up cats). Black Ragdolls are rare, but they do happen. However, according to Ragdoll Cats World, black Ragdolls may not be accepted as purebreds by the Cat Fanciers Association or The International Cat Association. Their loss!

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20. Lykoi

  • Height: 8-10 inches
  • Weight: 6-12 pounds
  • Personality: outgoing, smart
  • Coat: sparse, short, soft
  • Color: variety of colors and patterns, most often black roan
  • Life Expectancy: 12-17 years

One of the newer cat breeds, Lykois were developed in 2011 in the U.S. by breeding feral cats—specifically, black domestic shorthair cats. Their official coloration is black roan, but they can have any color or pattern. Lykoi fur looks disheveled, like a wolf, which is where they get their name. These cats are super smart and thrive when given puzzles and treat toys to play with.

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Black Cat Genetics

Black fur in domestic cats and wild panthers is:

  • Genetic: Cats inherit their fur colors from both parents.
  • Recessive: Feline geneticist Stephen O’Brien told Wired that the black fur gene is recessive, which means both parents must carry it to produce babies with black fur.
  • Associated with better health: The gene occurs in the same protein family responsible for fighting off disease.

“Researchers at the National Institutes of Health have been studying the genes that make cats’ fur black and have found that this gene may protect them from certain diseases,” Dr. Robyn Jaynes, the Director of Veterinary Affairs at PetSmart Charities told us.

However, Dr. Jaynes added, “Black cats have not been found to have longer lifespans. The lifespan of a cat is more directly impacted by their environment, nutrition and availability of medical care.”

So, just because you have a black-coated kitty doesn’t mean you can ignore their annual vet appointments or feed them garbage!

Black Cats and Bad Luck

My husband and I picked our black cat Jacques out of the kitten room at PAWS Chicago because he was so spry and playful. He’s maintained this goofy energy ever since (he’s six now). Jacques cuddles constantly, vocalizes loudly and naps anywhere (including the open dryer). I cannot fathom a reason anyone would shy away from adopting a black cat. But, it happens.

According to one study by researchers at the University of Louisville and Bellarmine University, black cats at an urban shelter in Kentucky were more likely to be euthanized and less likely to be adopted than the white, orange, gray or brown cats at the same shelter. The researchers speculate this could be due to lingering superstitions about black cats bringing bad luck.

Heidi Marston, director of pet placement initiatives at PetSmart Charities, says black cats may have a harder time getting adopted because “people looking to adopt cats often look for cats with striking fur patterns and colors and tend to overlook black cats.”

Medieval Europeans associated black cats with sorcery and death. Black cat sightings were bad omens. Folks actually tried to eradicate black cats from their communities, which backfired big time. Without cats to control rat populations, rodents pretty much took over, spreading a little thing called the Bubonic Plague far and wide.

In 17th century America, when persecuting witches was a national pastime, black cats were feared as well. Some were even accused of performing witchcraft themselves! Now, if you told this to ancient Egyptians, they would’ve been flabbergasted.

Egyptians have worshipped cats for millennia. In ancient Egypt, a cat in your house brought good luck and protected you from misfortune. People mummified their deceased pet cats so one day they could be buried together.

Welsh and Japanese cultures also associate cats with good luck and prosperity. Irish sailors believed a black cat on board was a good luck charm (not to mention a great way to keep rats at bay).

Today, unfortunately, some of the negative superstitions about black cats persist. Horrifyingly, there is speculation that some black cats have been returned to shelters because they don’t photograph well. Not only is this insulting to the stunners on our list, it’s a bad reason to deny a pet a loving home. If you’re in the market for a lucky black cat, there are always plenty up for adoption.

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Sarah Ashley

Freelance Writer

Sarah Ashley is a Chicago-based freelance journalist. She has covered pets for PureWow for six years and tackles everything from dog training tips to the best litter boxes. Her...

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20 Black Cat Breeds (Because Whoever Said They're Bad Luck Was So Wrong) (2024)
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