Kanaani cat sitting next to a kitten.

Kanaani Cat Breed

This athletic and muscular, yet elegant cat is very active and retains some of the wild nature of its ancestors.

Developed to have a close resemblance to the spotted African wildcat, the Kanaani (as in the Biblical name “Canaanite”) is rare. First bred by a sculptor in Jerusalem, this new breed was registered by the World Cat Association only in 2000, and many authorities do not yet accept it as a breed.

It is slowly becoming better known, with breeders in Germany and the US. Until 2010, the breeding program for the Kanaani allowed outcrosses with the African wildcat, Bengal, and Oriental Shorthair—provided all these had spotted coats.

All kittens born since 2010, however, must have Kanaani parents only. With its large, slender body, long legs, long neck, and tufted ears, the Kanaani looks like a wild desert cat.

This cat has a gentle and affectionate temperament but at the same time retains some of the independence of its wild ancestor and is also an excellent hunter.

Changing Pattern

When Doris Pollatschek set out to breed the Kanaani, her intention was to create a cat that looked authentically wild, with a spotted tabby coat like that of Felis silvestris lybica on which it was modeled.

However, the breed standard for the Kanaani now also permits a marbled tabby pattern, which does not occur naturally in F. silvestris. Breeders remain conservative in not introducing the silver variation that is so popular in similar breeds such as the Bengal and Savannah.

Origin: Israel, 2000s

Breed registries: None

Weight range: 11–20 lb (5–9 kg)

Grooming: Weekly

Colors and patterns: Spotted and marbled tabby patterns with various ground colors.