We present 855 cataclysmic variable candidates detected by the Catalina Real-time Transient Survey (CRTS) of which at least 137 have been spectroscopically confirmed and 705 are new discoveries. The sources were identified from the analysis of five years of data, and come from an area covering three quarters of the sky. We study the amplitude distribution of the dwarf novae CVs discovered by CRTS during outburst, and find that in quiescence they are typically two magnitudes fainter compared to the spectroscopic CV sample identified by SDSS. However, almost all CRTS CVs in the SDSS footprint have ugriz photometry. We analyse the spatial distribution of the CVs and find evidence that many of the systems lie at scale heights beyond those expected for a Galactic thin disc population. We compare the outburst rates of newly discovered CRTS CVs with the previously known CV population, and find no evidence for a difference between them. However, we find that significant evidence for a systematic difference in orbital period distribution. We discuss the CVs found below the orbital period minimum and argue that many more are yet to be identified among the full CRTS CV sample. We cross-match the CVs with archival X-ray catalogs and find that most of the systems are dwarf novae rather than magnetic CVs.