Top 8 Tiniest Cats

Devon Rex sitting in blankets on bed

Written by Krishna Maxwell

Updated: June 25, 2023

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Key Points:
  • Miniature, teacup, and dwarf cats are popular right now. However, some of these come from highly unethical breeding practices. Do your homework and know what you are buying before taking one home.
  • The Singapura is the smallest breed of cats and it has none of the issues associated with dwarfism.
  • The smallest cat ever recorded was the result of a genetic mutation. That cat only lived to be 6 years old.

The typical domesticated cat weighs around 10 pounds, making it dramatically smaller than tigers, which can comfortably weigh nearly 700 pounds in the wild. But some domesticated cats are significantly smaller still. Either thanks to hormones, the environment, or specialized breeding, these cats possess conditions that make them much smaller than their traditional domesticated counterparts.

Dwarf cats have a genetic mutation that can be identified by their particularly stubby legs, while miniature and teacup cats tend to be more proportionally similar to a typical breed, merely smaller. If you want cats that stay small like a kitten, these breeds offer an option.

There’s some controversy surrounding the breeding of both dwarf and teacup cats, and many alleged breeders who promise teacup cats are simply looking to sell the runt of the litter or are using inhumane practices to breed the smallest cats possible. Any cats suffering from dwarfism will have a host of health issues that are painful for the cat and lead to high vet bills. There are also some breeders who try to make “miniature” cats by deliberately starving the young kittens to stunt their growth. That’s why it’s important to make sure that you know the facts surrounding the tiniest cats in the world and perform due diligence to make sure you’re using an ethical breeder.

Many of these tiny cats are some of the cutest, and not all of them are rooted in dubious practices. There are very small breeds that are also healthy, charming, and active.

Here are eight of the tiniest cats in the world along with the circumstances that cause them to become so small in the first place.

Infographic of 8 Tiniest Cats
Due to hormones, the environment, or specialized breeding, these domesticated breeds are smaller than other cats.

8. Genetta: The Smallest Cat Breed Still in the Prototype Phase

As one of the newest designer breeds, the Genetta is among the rarest and most expensive of cats.

The Bengal cat was first bred in 1963 as an attempt to create a domestic breed with the markings and facial structure resembling a wildcat. Creators of this relatively recent breed are already in the process of creating a miniaturized version of this cat. To make things even more confusing, the aesthetic point of reference for this miniaturized Bengal cat is a genet, which isn’t even a cat at all. The genet is an entirely separate species that resembles a cat. Despite their looks, the genetics for the Genetta is a purely feline combination of munchkins, Bengals, and savannahs.

The first member of the breed was born in 2006, and it has yet to be recognized by any of the major cat fanciers associations. As one of the newest designer breeds to be introduced, the genetta is both one of the rarest and one of the most expensive cats that stay small available today.

7. Rusty-Spotted Cat: The Tiniest Cats in the Wild

Rusty-spotted cats are the tiniest cats in the wild.

Most of the tiniest cats in the world are a result of conscious human intervention, but sometimes natural selection prefers the petite. Typically weighing less than four pounds and measuring less than a foot and a half in length, the rusty-spotted cat is an arboreal hunter who prowls the canopies of wet forests throughout India and Sri Lanka. They hide from predators in the high branches and nest inside hollow logs during the day, and they do their hunting on the ground during the day. Extraordinary eyesight allows these animals to serve as ambush predators feeding on mice and small frogs. While once thought to be extremely rare, it’s now believed that their prodigious skills at hiding and elusive natures have potentially masked larger population numbers.

6. Manx: The Cat With the Smallest Tail

The Manx has the smallest tail, likely due to a random genetic defect rather than an attempt at breeding.

As a medium-sized and particularly stocky bobtail breed, the Manx doesn’t seem like a natural fit for this smallest cat breeds list, but their tails — or more accurately, their lack of one — help them stand apart from the other popular breeds. Manxes can be born with one of two types of tails. Rumpies have no tail at all, while stumpies have a slight stump where their tail should be. This breed’s lack of a tail is likely due to a random genetic defect rather than a conscious attempt at breeding, but it’s a quirk that’s proven to have value in nature as well. Bobcats and lynxes have both flourished for generations without tails thanks to the fact that they’re ground hunters who don’t need improved balance, and their lack of tail might help them avoid alerting the prey.

5. Dwelf: The Strangest Tiny Cats on the Planet

The Dwelf cat may just be the most strange of the tiniest cats for its size and appearance.

The name “Dwelf” is a portmanteau of dwarf and elf — a reference to both its dwarfish stature and its bizarrely elfin features. Its large eyes, unique facial features, and hairless body come from its Sphynx ancestors, while it gets its small demeanor from the Munchkin cat. The typical Dwelf stands at only half a foot tall and weighs less than 10 pounds. But these animals wouldn’t be who they are without their strangely twisted ears, a result of mixing the American curl into the breeding pool. To add even more confusion to this strange mix of characteristics, the Dwelf is known for having a big and vibrant personality that’s often compared to the friendliness of a dog. And since these are a breed that doesn’t shed, you don’t need to worry about a Dwelf triggering your allergies.

Given the dwarf genetics and the small gene pool, these cats are prone to health problems. If you feel you must have one, be prepared for a lot of vet bills.

4. Himalayan (Persian): The Breed With the Tiniest Cat in History

A Himalayan cat holds the record as the smallest domesticated cat.

It’s debatable whether or not the Himalayan is a distinct breed in its own right or simply a variation of the consistently popular Persian breed. But what’s not debatable is that Himalayans are normally medium-sized cats with dense and heavy builds. Despite that, the smallest domesticated cat in history was a Himalayan. As the runt of his litter, Tinker Toy was less than three inches tall and under eight inches long fully grown — and he weighed only about a pound and a half. His record-setting small size was rare but unintended, merely a result of a genetic abnormality rather than a trait intentionally nurtured in the family line. Tinkertoy lived to be six years old and stands as a reminder that the traits we selectively breed play an important role in the process of natural selection.

3. Munchkin: The World’s First Dwarf Cat Breed

The Munchkin is a tiny cat sometimes compared to a Dachshund due to its proportions.

There are now countless breeds of dwarf cats, but all of them can trace their unique size and strangely adorable proportions to the Munchkin cat. A rare genetic mutation is the source of their uniquely stubby legs — and while these traits have occasionally been seen in art throughout history, it wasn’t until 1983 that it was harnessed for the sake of birthing a new breed. Still, the Munchkin has been controversial and breeding it can be tricky. The gene causing the condition is dominant, but breeding two cats with short legs lead to almost 100% mortality rates. The dominance of that gene also makes interbreeding Munchkins with other cats easy, and they’ve been used in the siring of numerous other Munchkin breeds.

The genes associated with dwarfism also cause numerous health issues. Like the Dwelf above, deliberately breeding these animals raise serious ethical questions. These cats will suffer many painful health problems and usually have a shortened lifespan. They may be cute, but it comes at a high price both in vet bills and in the pain these animals suffer.

The proportions of the Munchkin cat are often compared to that of the Dachshund dog breed.

2. Devon Rex: The Small Cat Breed for People With Cat Allergies

The Devon Rex makes a great companion for those with allergies as it doesn’t shed much.

If you like the Dwelf in theory but want something a little larger, the Devon Rex ranks among the cutest cat breeds as well as those that don’t shed much. Despite being a medium-sized cat, the Devon Rex’s fine features and delicate angles make it feel significantly smaller than it is. Devon Rex females tend to be significantly smaller than their male counterparts, making them an exceptional choice if you want a cat that more closely resembles a kitten. Slightly taller but generally leaner than the average cat, the Devon Rex is both very playful and incredibly curious. The Devon Rex likes to climb, eat, and nap in the sun with more or less comparable interest. That means that keeping your Devon Rex healthy and svelte might require you to monitor their feeding habits carefully.

1. Singapura: The Smallest Cat Breed in the World

The Singapura is known as the tiniest cat breed in the world.

An average female Singapura weighs only four pounds and stands only half a foot tall. That makes them the number one breed of cats that stay small, but they’d rank among the cutest breeds even without their petite figures. Incredibly lively and active, these cats are known for retaining the personality of a kitten well into adulthood. Small doesn’t necessarily mean fragile, and Singapuras are known for their propensity to climb on anything and engage in daredevil heroics both to sate their curiosity and entertain their human companions. The Singapura is also one of the breeds that don’t shed much at all. Tiny but rare, these cats can cost between $1,200 and $1,500.

Summary of Top 8 Tiniest Cats

Our research shows that the smallest domesticated cat breeds in the world are as follows:

RankCat BreedCategory
1SingapuraSmallest cat breed in the world
2Devon RexSmall cat breed for people with cat allergies
3MunchkinWorld’s first dwarf cat breed
4Himalayan (Persian)Breed with the tiniest cat in history
5DwelfStrangest tiny cats on Earth
6ManxCat with the smallest tail
7Rusty-Spotted CatTiniest cats in the wild
8GenettaSmallest cat breed still in the prototype phase

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About the Author

Krishna is a lifelong animal owner and advocate. She owns and operates a small farm in upstate New York which she shares with three dogs, four donkeys, one mule, and a cat. She holds a Bachelors in Agricultural Technology and has extensive experience in animal health and welfare. When not working with her own animals and tending her farm, Krishna is helping other animal owners with behavior or management issues and teaching neighboring farmers about Regenerative Agriculture practices.

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