Top 10 Ugliest Cats

Written by AZ Animals Staff
Published: December 12, 2021
Image Credit iStock.com/Nynke van Holten
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Beauty, according to the novelist Margaret Wolfe Hungerford, might be in the eye of the beholder. But while all cat breeds have their fans and enthusiasts, some of them are widely regarded as just a little bit more odd-looking or strange compared to the others. This article will cover some interesting details about 10 different types of ugly cat breeds around the world. Some people will obviously have different opinions, but ugly in this case can be defined as odd, disproportionate features, wrinkled skin, or the total absence of hair. Some of them are old, established breeds, but many are actually new and experimental types of cats that only arose in the late 20th or early 21st century.

#10: Devon Rex

Ugliest Cats - Devon Rex
Two Devon Rex cats are sitting on the scratching post. With large, expressive eyes that speak volumes to you, it’s hard to resist these cuddly cats any time they are yearning for your affection.

Veera/Shutterstock.com

The Devon Rex, which originated from the English city of Devon in the 1950s, takes the 10th spot on this list for its strange impish face with big eyes, massive ears, and squished proportions. Other typical features include a long, scrawny neck, a muscular body, and a long but tapering tail. The thick coat, which can range from curly and wavy to soft and suede-like, comes in many different color combinations and patterns, including solid, tortoiseshell, tabby, and chinchilla. Its personality is sometimes described as a cross between a cat, a dog, and even a monkey. They will follow you around the house, sit at your feet, crawl into your lap, and even perch on your shoulder. There are very few breeds quite like them.

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You can read more about the Devon Rex here.

#9: Cornish Rex

Ugliest Cats - Cornish Rex
The Cornish Rex is an adventurous cat and is very intelligent. It can readily adapt to new situations and will explore wherever it can go.

DragoNika/Shutterstock.com

Despite the similarities in the name and appearance, the Cornish Rex is not closely related to the Devon Rex at all. Instead, the very first member of this breed appeared in a barn litter from Cornwall, England in 1950. It was later crossed with the Burmese, Siamese, and British domestic shorthair to produce a broader genetic base. It is characterized by a narrow head, hollow cheeks, strong muscles, and large bat ears. The short, curly coat, which feels incredibly soft to the touch, is actually caused by a completely different mutation than the Cornish Rex. It also comes in a wide variety of different patterns, including solid, tabby, tortoiseshell, tuxedo, and color point. Keen to interact with people, this breed is described as being very playful and mischievous. Some of their favorite games are fetch and catch.

You can read more about the Cornish Rex here.

#8: Exotic Shorthair

Ugliest Cats - Exotic Shorthair
Although they are close cousins to Persian cats, exotic shorthairs are noted for their plush, dense coats. Yet, they have the same flat faces and round heads as Persians do. 

TrapezaStudio/Shutterstock.com

The Exotic Shorthair first arose in the late 1950s from a cross between an American Shorthair and a Persian. The intent was to import the Persian’s silver coat and green eyes to the American Shorthair. Instead, the breeders produced a cat that was more akin to the Persian. After additional breeding with the Burmese and Russian Blue, the cat featured a flat, round face, big eyes, massive shoulders, and short, straight legs, which some might say make it one of the ugliest cat breeds. The short and thick plush coat comes in white, black, blue, red, cream, chocolate, lilac, and silver with various patterns and shadings. Exotic Shorthairs are known for being exceptionally sweet, laid back, and good-natured, but also quiet and sensitive. While they don’t demand attention, these cats still enjoy plenty of playtime and cuddles.

#7: Lykoi

Ugliest Cats - Lykoi
Despite their feral appearance, Lykoi cats are friendly, affectionate, playful cats who get along with humans and other animals.

Jaroslaw Kurek/Shutterstock.com

The Lykoi is jokingly referred to as a werewolf because it often lacks fur around the eyes, muzzle, and other parts of the body. Its very name is even derived from the Greek word Lycos for the wolf. The solid black roan coat, which is surprisingly soft and silky to the touch, actually came from a natural mutation of a domestic shorthair cat in 2010. Most Lykois will lose and then regrow parts of their hair in the shedding season twice a year. Because the fur consists entirely of guard hairs (there is no undercoat), this breed has little protection against harsh or inclement weather and so it should be kept inside. Other important traits include a wedge-shaped head, slender legs, and a muscular body. But despite the strange appearance, they are actually quite fun-loving, intelligent, and affectionate breeders that bond well with people and other pets. Because it needs to be showered with plenty of attention, this breed doesn’t necessarily do well with being left alone at home for long periods of time.

#6: Donskoy

Ugliest Cats - Donskoy
The Donskoy cat is both friendly and intelligent. They’re also great pets for people with allergies, as they shed little to no hair or dander—however, they will require consistent temperatures indoors all-year-round, and you’ll often spot Donskoys wearing some sort of sweater.

kapichka/Shutterstock.com

Also known as the Don Sphynx or the Russian Hairless, the Donskoy is a rare hairless breed that bears a striking resemblance to the Sphynx but otherwise shares no relationship or genetic heritage with it. The history of this breed actually dates back to 1987, when cat breeder Elena Kovaleva found a blue tortoiseshell stray in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don. While initially appearing normal, the cat began to lose its hair around four months old. In order to preserve this unique attribute, it was later mated with a local tomcat to produce the founding stock. It is characterized by large ears, webbed toes, and wrinkled skin, either coming with or without whiskers. However, the hairless trait is associated with some health problems, including feline ectodermal dysplasia, which prevents the cat from lactating or sweating properly. For this reason, it isn’t recognized by all cat registries.

#5: Peterbald

Ugliest Cats - Peterbald
The Peterbald’s gene for baldness is dominant, so crossbreeding with other cats can produce hairless kittens. 

iStock.com/Евгений Харитонов

With their massive ears, long, narrow snouts, and wrinkled skin, the Peterbald is perhaps one of the ugliest cats in the world. It originated from the Russian city of St. Petersburg in 1994 with a cross between a Donskoy and an Oriental Shorthair. While they do carry a hairless gene, kittens can actually be born with a bald, flocked, brush, or straight coat with all kinds of different colors and patterns. However, the genetics behind this process here aren’t very well understood. They are otherwise very intelligent, playful, and affectionate cats that typically form strong bonds with the owner and develop peaceful relationships with other pets.

#4: Ukrainian Levkoy

Ugliest Cats - Ukrainian Levkoy
The Ukrainian Levkoy is described as highly affectionate with a laid-back, playful temperament.

Ravelios/Shutterstock.com

The Ukrainian Levkoy is a manmade breed (meaning it’s the result of deliberate breeding) that arose around 2004 from a cross between a Donskoy and a Scottish Fold. Weighing anywhere between 8 and 12 pounds, it is characterized by harsh cheekbones, a long nose, and folded ears. Another important feature is the light down that covers the body. Since they are not completely hairless, they can come in just about any color or pattern imaginable. Naturally curious and inquisitive, this breed loves to play. You should provide it with scratching posts, cat trees, and plenty of toys throughout the day. This super affectionate breed loves to interact with its owner. A typical lifespan may last up to 15 years, sometimes more.

#3: Elf Cat

Ugliest Cats - Elf Cat
An elf cat is a cross between different breeds of cats. A new and rare breed, the Elf is a hairless cat with unique curled ears that’s affectionate, intelligent, and playful.

Dan Kosmayer/Shutterstock.com

Among the ugliest cats in the world, the hairless Elf Cat was thought to be created from a cross of a Sphynx and an American Curl around 2004. It is characterized by strange, twisted ears, a muscular body, prominent cheekbones and whisker pads, and wrinkled skin around the shoulders, ears, and muzzle. Because of their hairless bodies, they are also very vulnerable to all kinds of skin sensitivities and issues, although they are otherwise quite healthy. Unlike many other breeds, Elf Cats love to be the center of attention. They are naturally affectionate and loving.

#2: Minskin

Ugliest Cats - Minskin
The Minskin Breed is a true Millennial cat, first coming onto the scene in Boston in the U.S. in 2000. The creator, breeder Paul McSorley, crossed Sphynx cats with Munchkin cats in the hope of finding a breed that was both hairless and adorably short.

By Paulmcsorley https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26572384 – License

The origins of the Minskin date back to the turn of the 21st century, when a local Boston breeder crossed a hairless Sphynx with a Munchkin. He later added the Burmese and the Devon Rex to the mix as well. The result was a breed with a round head, large ears, big and bulging eyes, and very short legs, so its body is almost hugging the ground. The coat is sparse around the core of the body and denser toward the extremities. Like many other breeds on this list of ugliest cats, the Minskin is extremely outgoing, affectionate, and intelligent. They also come with very few health problems and a long lifespan of 12 to 15 years. The Minskin was also the basis of a similar breed called the Bambino.

#1: Sphynx

Ugliest Cats - Sphynx
Despite their regal appearance, Sphynx cats are playful and goofy pals sometimes acting more like dogs than cats.

Olllllga/Shutterstock.com

The Sphynx (also known as the Canadian Hairless) takes the top spot for types of ugly cat breeds. They were created in the 1960s with a natural genetic mutation and then refined through subsequent selective breeding. A genetic test confirmed that the hairless trait is produced from the same gene of the short curly hair from the Devon Rex. They are characterized by a long, narrow head, webbed feet and extremely thick paw pads, a whip-like tail, and very big ears in relation to body size. The bare (or mostly bare) skin has the texture of chamois leather. It comes in the normal color the hair would be and also has normal cat markings such as solid, point, tabby, and tortoiseshell.

However, the short or non-existent hair does not necessarily mean the Sphynx (or any other shorthair breed) is hypoallergenic. An allergic reaction is caused not by the length of the fur, but by the production of certain proteins in the skin and saliva. Keep that in mind as you chose a breed.

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