9 Friendliest Cat Breeds for Harmonious Households
If cat lovers understand one thing, it’s that they love their feline best friends unconditionally, whether that love is reciprocated in traditional ways or not.
Cats have a relatively popular reputation for being a bit more standoffish than their canine counterparts, but it’s more of a common misconception that cats are less friendly than dogs than anything else, says Dr. Melissa M. Brock, a board-certified house-call veterinarian from Madison, Wisconsin. “While it’s true that some breeds of cat are more social than others, there are plenty of exceptions to this rule,” she adds.
If you’re hoping to bring one of the friendliest cat breeds, there are some things you should probably keep in mind before choosing your new feline friend.
Friendly Cat Breeds: How Common are They?
Feline friendliness is dependent on a few different factors, according to Dr. Brock. “It can be hard to tell whether cats in general are naturally friendly or not, but we all know that some individual cats are naturally more friendly than others,” she says.
Cats that are brought up with people and other animals do often seem to be friendlier than cats who grow up in the wild. “We believe that whether a cat is naturally friendly depends on a combination of nature and nurture,” says Dr. Brock. “For example, if you have a cat who was born in the wild and then brought into your home as an adult, he may be less likely to bond with you than one who was brought into your home when he was just a kitten.”
9 Friendliest Cat Breeds
Although we’ve established that individual cats have unique personalities — and that any cat can be gregarious, regardless of outside factors — there are a few cats that are known for their outgoing, sociable nature. The friendliest cat breeds include:
The modern Bengal can be traced back to breeder Jean. S. Mill, who crossed a domestic cat with an Asian Leopard Cat in 1963 to create the first Bengal. They are an active and friendly breed that’s also known to be confident, devoted, and interactive. “The Bengal is a relaxed cat that enjoys being around people, but isn’t overly energetic or demanding,” says Dr. Brock. “They’re also very good at getting along with other cats, dogs, and children in their household.”
This fun-loving, relaxed, loyal, and social rex cat breed has a unique appearance that occurs thanks to a natural gene mutation. The breed had its humble beginnings in the late 1950s in Devonshire, England, when a stray cat birthed a curly-haired, funny-looking kitten that was named Kirlee, who became the founding father of the breed. “These cats are among the most ‘dog-like,’” says Dr. Anna Foster, vetted council member for Vetted Pet Health. Plus, “they love to play and are very food motivated, thus making them easier to train. They are a super loving breed.”
Like the Devon Rex, the Cornish Rex is one of the friendliest cat breeds that hails from humble beginnings. The originals of this breed appeared in a litter of barn cats in Cornwall, England in 1950 and, thanks to a genuine mutation, had quite the fresh appearance from its siblings. Besides its unique look, the personality of this breed also sets it apart, as they are social, enjoy travel, sometimes enjoy water, love people and other pets, says Dr. Foster. Like others on this list, they’re considered to be a very loving and social breed.
Large and laidback, the Ragdoll is a friendly and gentle breed that was developed in the 1960s by a breeder named Ann Baker. She bred a free-roaming domestic longhaired white female with other cats she either found or owned. The endearing and sweet offspring that developed are today’s Ragdoll ancestors. “Ragdolls are known as ‘Velcro’ cats because they enjoy being near their people and like to be picked up and carried around the house,” says Dr. Brock. “They have very calm personalities and get along well with other cats and dogs in the home.”
Another cat that enjoys being carried around by its human companions, the Sphynx is known for being very affectionate and friendly towards strangers, as well as family members, says Dr. Brock. “The Sphynx is very easy-going when it comes to other pets in the household,” she says. “They’ll often bond with them instead of fighting over territory or resources, like food bowls or litter boxes.” This breed was developed in Toronto, Canada, in 1966 when a domestic cat gave birth to a hairless kitten. After the discovery of this natural genetic mutation, cat breeders have selectively bred the Sphynx with both normal coated and hairless cats to create the robust Sphynx breed we enjoy today.
Known for its sociability and affectionate nature, the Abyssinian is a great choice if you’re looking for one of the friendliest cat breeds who will bond with you and your children, says Dr. Brock. “The Abyssinian also has an extremely high intelligence level and loves to play games, which can make them lots of fun,” she added. This particular cat is one of the oldest known breeds, although its history is the source of a lot of controversy. Some believe the original cats were from Ethiopia — formerly Abyssinia — and the first Abyssinians exhibited in shows in England were imported from the same. Recent studies, though, tie the origin of the breed to the coast of the Indian Ocean and parts of Southeast Asia.
Although Orientals represent a diverse group of cats with over 600 color, pattern, and coat length combinations, all these cats have their foundation in the Siamese breed. “If you want a cat who loves to cuddle but that also enjoys its own space when it needs it, this breed is for you,” says Brock. “The Oriental Shorthair is one of the most intelligent cats out there, making them great conversationalists. They are also very playful. If you want a cat who will keep your kids entertained all day long, this is definitely the one.”
Like the Abyssinian, the Maine Coon’s history is the subject of myths and legends. Still, the breed is the native American long-haired cat, and was first recognized as such in Maine, where it quickly earned the distinction of the official cat of the state. “Maine Coon Cats are a larger breed than most cats, which makes them great for people who want a more interactive pet,” says Dr. Brock. “They’re also extremely affectionate, so they make good companions for children and adults alike.”
This rare and ancient breed was developed in central and southwest Asia and first brought to England in 1955 as Turkish cats. Their name was later changed to Turkish Van to avoid confusing them with the Turkish Angora breed. Although they didn’t arrive in the United States until 1982, they quickly made a favorable impression. “The Turkish Van is one of the most affectionate breeds around,” says Dr. Brock. “They will often follow their owners around and get very attached to them. They love to be petted and enjoy being held close.”
Can Any Cat Be a Friendly Cat?
The quick answer is yes, any cat can become a friendly cat. While there are some breeds that are more naturally social and friendly than others, even those cats that aren’t especially known for their sociability are going to be more receptive to affection if they’re treated with kindness and respect, rather than fear or anger, says Dr. Brock.
“If you’re lucky enough to have a breed that’s known for its friendliness, that’s wonderful news,” she says. “But even if you have one of the less-social breeds, there are things you can do to promote friendliness in your cat.”
Since the age at which a cat begins to socialize appears to make a difference in their disposition, it’s essential to start as soon as possible for best results. “Most of [cat friendliness] is attributed to training and socialization in their first 6 months to a year,” says Dr. Foster. “Just like pet dogs, pet cats can and should be trained, and the earlier you start, the better. Get your cat comfortable with having their carrier be their safe space, use positive reinforcement with food or toys, and socialize them gently with other dogs, cats, people, and environments. Take it slow, don’t rush, and use positive reinforcement to do so.”
The most important thing Dr. Brock recommends is making sure your cat feels safe and comfortable in her environment. “Make sure she has enough space to roam around and explore on her own terms without feeling crowded by other animals or humans.”
Brock also recommends providing plenty of toys and places for your cat to hide and feel safe, along with plenty of mental and physical stimulation to keep them healthy overall.