Best cats for kids: 10 child-friendly felines
From sweet and gentle to energetic and playful, here are the best cats for kids, with feline friends to suit every family
Choosing the right feline friend for your family isn’t always easy, which is where our guide to the best cats for kids can come in handy. While there are lots of wonderful breeds out there, they’re not all suitable for busy homes, so ensuring you’ve selected a kitty whose personality fits your lifestyle is key.
When considering adopting a furkid, it can be easy to get caught up in shopping for the best cat food, toys and beds, but taking a breed's temperament into consideration is perhaps the most important factor of all when deciding which kitty is going to be the right one for you.
Alongside providing companionship, cats can offer children some wonderful life lessons, helping them to learn kindness, respect and discipline. From filling their food bowl twice a day to regular play sessions and frequent grooming, having a kitty companion can teach your child all about the responsibility that comes with caring for a pet.
But which furry friend is the purrfect fit for your family? Well, that’s what we’re here to help you with. From docile and gentle lap cats who will enjoy quality time with quieter kids to playful and high energy breeds that will love chasing your little humans around the house, here’s a few of our favorite cats for kids….
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With their striking blue eyes and color point coats, the Birman is well known for being gentle, sweet, easygoing, loving and incredibly curious - which makes them an ideal playmate and companion for children.
Long and often quite large, Birmans are big boned cats that have soft and silky fur that makes them the ideal snuggle buddy and their gregarious, sociable and playful natures mean they’re happiest when with their people.
While their coat sports a lot of cream, they will have points of color on their face, ears, tail and feet that can range from chocolate to lilac. They’re somewhat chatty, though not overly noisy, and because they don’t have a strong hunting instinct, they prefer to stay close to home.
The Birman is a kitty who needs a fair bit of attention, play and grooming, so they’re ideal for homes with children. They can also make brilliant homework buddies as many Birmans will happily sit quietly next to the children in their family while they read aloud.
Acquiring its name because of the way it goes limp like a ragdoll when picked up, this is another blue-eyed beauty with a striking appearance and cuddly nature. With a reputation for being one of the most affectionate cat breeds around, the Ragdoll loves to be held and will often follow their humans around the house.
Like the Birman, the Ragdoll has a color point coat and an easygoing and social personality that makes them feel right at home in the midst of bustling family life. They adore the attention of children and because they’re so docile and gentle, they’re good with babies as well.
While the Ragdoll doesn’t need a lot of rambunctious play, they do need a lot of cuddles and snuggle time to stay happy and healthy. Because of that, these big softies will do well with children who like to pick up their feline friends, as long as they hold them carefully and are reminded to be gentle.
3. Maine Coon
A large cat with an even larger personality, the Maine Coon is a gentle giant who retains their kitten-like disposition well into their senior years. Originating in New England, where they would often join their sea-faring owners aboard their boats, the Maine Coon is fascinated by water, so don’t be surprised if they try to join your children in the bath!
Incredibly tolerant, the Maine Coon is unafraid of being handled by children and will quite happily allow themselves to be carted all around the house without kicking up a fuss. Devoted companions, they quickly form close bonds with all members of their family.
Often happy to be walked on a leash or to engage in a game of fetch, this is a very kind and good natured feline who can easily withstand the often rambunctious nature of family life. While they usually prefer to be beside their humans, rather than on their lap, they are true family members who love to be part of all the action.
Definitely the glamor puss of the cat world, the Persian has a round head, even rounder eyes and a flat nose that give it its distinctive look. People-orientated, friendly and patient, their coats are so fluffy and shiny that children could easily mistake them for a stuffed animal when they’re asleep.
Persians are very undemanding cats and they require very low levels of activity, so they’re not a great choice if you have a child who wants a very high-energy playmate. They’re also not particularly fond of the outdoors and prefer to spend their time curled up in their favorite spot inside the home.
That being said, their gentle and serene nature means they will do incredibly well with a more introverted and quiet child who wants a companion who will cuddle up in bed with them or who they can gently stroke.
They’re also wonderful at keeping sick kids company and because they require a lot of grooming to keep their coat looking in tip-top condition, the Persian can be a wonderful way to introduce your child to the responsibilities that come with owning a pet.
When it comes to the friendliest cat breeds, the spunky Siamese is high up the list, which is likely why it’s the most popular short haired breed in the United States. Absolute gluttons for attention, this is one feline who will be unlikely to tire of having your child dote on it - in fact, the more love the better!
Extremely talkative and with a love of the outdoors, the Siamese is a wonderful choice if you have an active child in need of a fully engaged feline friend. They’ll happily follow them around the house meowing with every step and won’t hesitate to take on the role of honorary sibling if your kid is an only child.
While they can sometimes be shy when first entering a new home, they’re quick to warm up once they’ve learned the lay of the land, so it won’t be long before your child has a loyal and loving best friend for life. Just make sure you have plenty of toys on hand as this is one kitty who loves to play.
The Manx originated on the Isle of Man, just off the British coats and is well known for often being without a tail. Medium in size and with a rounded body, they have a stocky look but their powerful hind legs help to propel them to great heights when they’re whizzing around the house.
Affectionate and gentle, yet highly playful and interactive, in many ways they’re more like a small dog than a cat. Incredibly protective of their humans and loyal to those they love, they’ll happily trot along behind the children of the house and follow them wherever they go.
While the Manx has a quiet voice, they love to talk, which will delight any child in search of a feline friend who will really engage with them. They enjoy a good cuddle, will settle on your lap, and are just all-round delightful family cats who form strong attachments and bonds with all of their people.
Looking very similar to the sort of cat you’d expect to have found in ancient Egypt, the long, slender and highly intelligent Abyssinian are often considered to be the clowns of the feline world thanks to their amusing antics and love of play.
Self-sufficient, they’re not really fond of spending time on people’s lap and prefer to get their needs for connection met through running, jumping, and having fun wherever their family members are as opposed to sitting quietly and snuggling.
Friendly and loyal, they are prone to emitting a steady stream of soft chatter, and while they are full of beans and require significant amounts of playtime, they do best with older children who can match their energy levels and engage with them appropriately.
With a delightfully frisky and mischievous personality that makes them a firm favorite with families, the Burmese is a fearless and friendly feline who will remain playful well into its twilight years.
Like the Manx, they are more dog-like than cat-like at times, being huge fans of games of fetch and having loyal natures that make them follow along behind their humans wherever they go.
They love being stroked and chatted to and their athletic, outgoing and curious natures makes them a magnet for equally inquisitive and energetic children. Sociable creatures who don’t like being left out of anything, they do best in homes where there is always someone around to keep them company.
9. American Shorthair
Low-maintenance and super laid back, the American Shorthair is independent and able to be left alone but equally happy when their humans return. Highly flexible and adaptable, they cope brilliantly well with family life and thrive on being around children.
Sweet natured and able to get along well with almost anyone, including other pets, they’re effortless additions to the home and because they tend to live long lives, they are a good choice if you’re looking for a long-haul companion for your child.
They love interactive play with their people and their muscular body holds up well around boisterous little humans. Alongside regular play sessions, they also enjoy twice-weekly grooming sessions, so this can be another great way for your child to bond with their feline friend.
The Bengal is our pick for any outdoorsy, adventure-loving family who wants to be able to take their kitty companion with them wherever they go. Vocal, communicative, athletic and social, this is one cat that won’t be happy to be left on the sidelines.
Highly trainable and very loyal, the Bengal has endless energy to burn, making them a great choice for children who love to be on the go. In fact, with their curious and playful natures and their tendency to always be seeking out fun and engaging things to do, the Bengal is basically a kid at heart.
While they may have a name and a coat pattern that makes them appear like a jungle cat, don’t let their outward look fool you - these felines make for very sweet and gentle family pets, but they are full on, so you’ll want to make sure you offer them plenty of stimulation and enrichment.
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Kathryn is a freelance writer who has spent the past three years dividing her writing time between her two great loves - pets and health and wellness. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with a very mischievous Cocker Spaniel and a super sassy cat, drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.