You don’t have to be a cat lady to understand the appeal of having a furry feline as a pet. Cats are typically more low-maintenance than dogs, and their independence and attitude is what most people love about them. The best cat breeds for kids and families are the ones that are friendly and easy to care for. If you’re thinking about introducing a new feline family member, here’s what you need to know about choosing the friendliest cat breeds that will suit you best.
Things to Think About When Adopting a New Cat
There are several things to consider when bringing a pet into your family. If you’re a new cat owner, there is a lot to learn about how best to care for your new kitty. And even if you’re familiar with cats and know how to care for them, you still need to make sure the whole family is on board and understands the responsibilities of cat ownership.
Think About Your Why
What drew you and your family to want a cat as opposed to another animal? There’s usually a distinctive reason why someone is looking for a cat instead of a dog or a rabbit. Perhaps you had cats growing up and want your family to enjoy the same feline fun. Or maybe it’s simply because you have a 6-year-old who did a social studies project on cats and now he’s obsessed. All reasons to get a cat are good reasons!
Understanding why you are drawn to these unique animals will help you identify which are the best cat breeds for your purposes.
Make Sure Everyone Understands the Responsibilities
If you are new to cat ownership, it’s also important that you do your research on how to care for these animals. There’s a lot to know about bringing a new cat into your home, especially if you have other pets or a family member with pet allergies.
Litter boxes can sometimes end up being the least-favorite chore around the house. But you don’t want Mr. Socks to suffer with a dirty litter box just because everyone in the family is trying to avoid this duty. It’s important that, when choosing the best cats for your family, you make sure everyone knows what kind of responsibilities cat ownership will entail. Some breeds have different needs, but there are a few universals: feeding, watering, cleaning the litter box, and visits to the veterinarian, to name a few.
Owning a cat is not all fun and games – it also requires some work. Most cat owners say that caring for their beloved felines doesn’t feel like work because they love their pets so much! Still, it’s important that everyone – kids included – understands that before you go looking for your new furry friend.
Low Maintenance Doesn’t Mean Zero Maintenance
Cats tend to be lower-maintenance animals when compared to some other pets, but they also need attention and care. Even if you can leave your cat for a couple days with an automatic feeder, you shouldn’t make a habit out of it.
If you are a family of regular, consistent travelers, or there are many days during the week where no one is home, it’s not fair to adopt a cat and let them be alone all the time. That said, cats can be great animals for families that have long work and school days and are only home in the evenings.
It’s understandable that families with a schedule that’s too demanding for dog care might consider the friendliest breeds of cats for a pet. Cats tend to nap for most of the day, anyway! It’s just important not to underestimate your cat’s need for love, attention, and respect.
Remember: There’s No Way to Predict Personality
Searching for the best cat breeds gives you a guideline about behavior, size, and health concerns when looking to adopt a cat. But breeds do not offer any guarantees, and each individual cat will have his or her own quirks and personality traits. Don’t expect your Siamese cat to be the same as your neighbor’s Siamese cat. And if you get a hybrid of two or three breeds, you never know exactly which traits your kitty will inherit from parents and grandparents.
Knowing the friendliest cat breeds can act as a starting point to identifying what qualities you want and need in a pet. Just remember to stay open-minded about your new family member and treat your kitty companion as an individual. All cats are different – and we like it that way!
What Makes a Great Family Cat?
So what makes a certain breed of cat particularly good for families and kids? When considering the best cat breeds for families, look for:
- The friendliest cat breeds
- The ones that live the longest
- Cats that are easy to care for
- Cats that are objectively cute!
The Friendliest Cat Breeds Are Great for Families
There is nothing worse than watching a small child who desperately wants to play with or snuggle her kitty, only to discover that her new cat has zero interest in spending time with her. Some cats tend to be more independent than others. For some owners, this independence is very appealing. Usually, families with children are looking for just the opposite: a cat breed that will want to play and snuggle with some regularity.
All cats need sufficient space and time alone. Don’t expect your kitty to be as giddy about your return home from work as a Golden Retriever might be. But most of the cats on our list are eager to engage with you and will be happy to play and cuddle.
With any pet we choose to bring into our family, we want them to live a long, healthy, happy life. The average lifespan for most cats is 13 to 17 years if they live indoors. A lot of factors influence how long a cat will live, including how much time they spend outside, their diet, their mental and physical routines, and how often they visit the veterinarian. And of course, breed is another factor that will influence cat lifespan.
The best cat breeds are the ones that will live a long time and have many happy years with a family. A long lifespan means a cat has been bred not only for cuteness, but also for health.
Easy to Care For
Most cats are pretty easy to care for, but some breeds have more demanding grooming or attention needs than others. The best cat breeds for kids and families are the ones that are friendly and happy to play and snuggle, but can also be left alone when things get busy. We know that family life can be chaotic and full of surprises, so it’s important to have a cat that can roll with the punches!
Cuteness Is Objective
Of course, most people want a cat that is cute, with a sweet little face and a soft, cuddly body. We think all breeds win the award of the cutest cat breed! Short-haired or long-haired, small or big, flat-faced or cheetah-like – all cat breeds are beautiful in their own right, so we’ve included a selection of many different-looking cats in our list.
The 10 Best Cat Breeds
We’ve compiled the ultimate list of the cutest, friendliest cat breeds around. Plus, any combination of these breeds found at a rescue or shelter is sure to make a good companion, too! Here’s some information about the personalities, size, and grooming needs for:
- Maine Coons
- Oriental Shorthairs
- American Shorthairs
- Exotic Shorthairs
A Big, Fluffy Friend: Maine Coon
Maine Coons are well known in the cat world for being enormous. The largest of this breed have clocked in at about 30 pounds, though most will end up around 18 or 20 pounds. Their big size and fluffy coats complement a friendly and super attentive personality. It’s also easy to train a Maine Coon because they are a highly intelligent cat breed.
They have a long double coat that requires some consistent grooming and they tend to live up to 15 years. If you have plenty of space, a Maine Coon can be a great family cat.
The Cat for Dog People: Bengal
Bengals are great cats for people who already have dogs or a lot of noise and chaos at their house. They’re known for being adaptable, chill, and adventurous. They are also visually appealing, with markings that look like a cheetah.
Bengals get bored easily, but they’re also good at entertaining themselves – don’t be surprised if you find your new Bengal climbing the bookshelves in search of their own adventure when you aren’t providing enough stimulation. They’re also pretty vocal, so prepare to be serenaded! Bengals live to be around 16 years old and typically weigh between 9 and 14 pounds.
The Iconic Cat: Siamese
If your child is into old Disney movies, they might have fallen in love with the two Siamese cats from Lady and the Tramp. The pair in the movie, named Si and Am, are mischievous, always causing trouble for Lady and her beloved. These well-recognized cats are certainly intelligent and very playful, and they’re known to be vocal and demanding about their attention needs. Siamese cats are actually the ancestors of other breeds on this list, like the Oriental Shorthair and the Sphynx. Their piercing blue eyes are a popular physical trait, and their short coats come in a variety of shades from white to dark brown. Siamese cats are on the smaller end, rarely weighing more than 14 pounds, and they typically live about 12 years.
The Beauty Queen: Birman
A Birman cat is an objectively beautiful cat with a long, white coat and similar markings to a Siamese, with the same striking blue eyes. In the same way Siamese were the foundational breed for other breeds on this list, the Birmans are ancestors to the Ragdoll breed we talk about later in the list.
Birman cats are beautiful, affectionate cats, but be warned: they are likely to imprint on one member of your family and choose a favorite. They are one of the easiest cats to care for – they don’t need a lot of attention or play, and tend to be very quiet and relaxed. Birman cats weigh about 10 pounds and typically live to be 15 years old.
The Mischief Maker: Oriental Shorthairs
This is the cat for the family that wants a constant source of entertainment in their new pet. To begin with, Oriental Shorthairs are super unique-looking: their short fur and broad snouts make for a sweet, somewhat goofy-looking cat. They are known for their constant desire for attention. You’ll find them following you around the house to interrupt your chores and rub at your legs while you try to cook dinner. While some people might find this attention annoying, most Oriental Shorthair owners find their pet’s attention to be absolutely irresistible. Oriental Shorthairs are one of the best cat breeds for kids because of this love of attention – they are happy to purr in your kiddo’s lap all day and sleep with them all night.
The Classic Choice: American Shorthair
American Shorthairs are an all-around win when it comes to the best cat breeds for kids and families. These easygoing, playful cats are great with children of all ages and even tend to befriend dogs. They also don’t need to be groomed very regularly, and they live a very long time, sometimes as long as 20 years!
“American Shorthair” is a catch-all term for short-haired cats; they come in a variety of different colors and coat patterns, from tabby to calico to tuxedo and anything in between. The same variety applies to their size; some tend to be on the smaller end around 7 or 8 pounds, while others can get as big as 15 pounds.
The Couch Potato Cat: Persians
If you’re looking for a movie buddy, Persians are a great choice for your family. In addition to being an uber-cute breed with super fluffy coats and sweet faces, Persians tend to be laid-back and happy to just take it easy. Those long, glorious coats do require some consistent grooming, as they are prone to matting if not cared for properly. Other than that, these cats are content to hang out beside you or even by themselves.
Though their fluff can be deceiving, Persians are typically small cats, weighing no more than 12 pounds. They live a long time, too – around 17 years!
The Cuddly, Hairless Sphynx
The hairless Sphynx is a great cat for families that have a member who is allergic to pet dander. Their lack of fur also encourages them to snuggle with you to keep warm – making them one of the best cat breeds for cuddling – and they often need coats. Dressing them up in warm, comfortable clothing is usually a pleasure for a Sphynx owner – especially a child!
Sphinxes are also playful and cheerful cats that tend to be a little goofy, often putting on a silly show to keep the family laughing. When properly cared for, these small cats live to be around 15 years old.
The Easygoing Ragdoll
In case the name didn’t give it away, ragdolls are super chill cats. The breed was so named because they tend to go limp when people pick them up and they can be held in almost any way.
They also might be the most loyal cat breed, with a habit of following their owners around the house and giving plenty of attention and love. They have long coats and need occasional grooming, but because they don’t have an undercoat they are less likely to get matted than, say, Persian cats. Ragdolls live around 15 years and some of them can get quite big – up to 20 pounds!
The Perpetual Kitten Face: Exotic Shorthairs
These squishy-faced cats are beloved by many for their adorable expressions. With a flat snout, close-set eyes, and a tiny nose, they are irresistibly cute. They are hyper-playful as kittens and need a lot of care and attention in their younger years, but are known to relax as they get older.
The short coat of an Exotic Shorthair cat doesn’t require much grooming. This breed is a combination of the low-maintenance American Shorthair and the slightly higher-maintenance (but glamorous) Persian – all of the beauty, none of the work!
The Best Cat Will Have Chemistry With Your Family
Choosing the best cat breeds for kids and families is mostly about what works for you as an individual and your lifestyle. Every cat is different, and we think the best cats are the ones who are rescued from your local shelter! There are plenty of sweet cats and kittens who need homes, and many of them are a mix of the breeds on this list. You can also look for breed-specific rescue organizations if there is a particular type of cat that really speaks to you. Whatever you choose, we’re sure you’re going to love your new feline family member!