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10 best cats for kids and families

best cats for kids and families
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you’re not sure which breed will get on with the youngsters in your household, our guide to the best cats for kids and families is here to help. 

Cats make wonderful companions for your children. They are not only loving friends that they can play with and cuddle, but caring for them can teach kids about responsibility, patience and compassion without the high demands of some pets such as dogs. 

Just like kids, however, not all cats are the same. While certain youngsters are more at home reading a book in a quiet corner, others are constantly running around. Similarly, cats have different personalities. 

There are certain breeds that are better suited to families. These tend to be the friendliest cat breeds, the calmest cat breeds, and confident cats who are happy to play and be handled and are not made anxious by busy households or loud noises. However, it will still come down to your individual child and cat to make the best match. Whether you are a cat connoisseur or a first-time owner, why not use our guide as a starting point? 

PetsRadar's pick of the best cats for kids and families

1. Abyssinian  

abyssinian cat

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Sometimes referred to as aby-silly-ans, this is a playful and affectionate breed. They’re especially good for older children as they have lots of energy and are always on the go. This active, curious cat will entertain your family as it loves to climb and jump up high. Abyssinians are intelligent so can even be taught tricks. While they aren’t lap cats, they still make loyal companions as they enjoy being around people. Plus, they have short coats so are easy to maintain.  

2. British Shorthair 

British Shorthair in long grass

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Some cat breeds may not enjoy being around kids because of overenthusiastic petting and grabbing, but the British Shorthair is a calm, laidback breed that has been known to be quite patient, particularly when being handled a bit roughly by an unknowing toddler. 

Friendly and loyal, this breed will not only tolerate more than other breeds, but is quite happy in a busier, more chaotic environment such as a family home. They are not huge fans of being carried or sitting on laps and they aren’t as active or playful as some breeds, but they are sweet and loving.  

3. Birman 

Birman cat

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The Birman is a calm, loving and affectionate cat breed, which makes it a great family cat. This gentle breed loves cuddles with its owners and is very sociable so will happily follow you around and try to help you with tasks. They’ll be friendly and playful with your kids, but do tend to prefer laidback lounging. The Birman will adapt to most households though as they are easy-going and get on with most people, children and other pets.  

4. Burmese  

Burmese cat

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This sociable cat loves people and attention, which makes it ideal for a home with children. They are friendly, enthusiastic and playful – and have even been known to play fetch like dogs. This affectionate breed is happy to adopt a busy lifestyle and they’re patient with kids. They’ll follow you around or curl up on your lap. An added bonus is they’re low maintenance when it comes to grooming, making life easier when you have a pet and kids to care for.  

5. Cornish Rex 

Cornish Rex

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Adventurous by nature, the active Cornish Rex is curious and loves to explore. This breed makes an excellent family cat as he loves to entertain with tricks and thrives on attention. Just make sure you put away anything you don’t want playing with. The Cornish Rex has often been described as dog-like as they will learn to play fetch with you. If you’re looking for a quiet cat this breed isn’t for you. They may be gentle, but this confident cat likes to chat, which is why it makes such a good companion.  

6. Himalayan 

Close up of Himalayan cat with blue eyes lying down and looking at the camera

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A cross between the Siamese and the Persian cat, the Himalayan shares traits with both breeds. Similar to the Persian cat they can be calm and quiet, but they can also be energetic and affectionate like the Siamese. This sweet-natured cat will be just as happy playing with your kids as cuddling up on their lap. However, this breed is best suited for quieter homes and children who will be gentle with them as they do not like noise or commotion.  

7. Maine Coon 

Maine Coon

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Known as the ‘gentle giant’, the Main Coon is a natural choice for a home with kids. They are big, loveable and affectionate cats with the perfect coat for cuddling – the only issue is this means they’re high maintenance too as they will need lots of grooming. 

However, if you’re happy to take care of them, they will be a playful, kind and loving companion. The Main Coon is an outgoing and independent cat but it loves people and especially children – and because of its size it’s not afraid to be handled by them.  

8. Manx 

Manx

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When you picture a child and a cat, does your first thought go to worrying about the child pulling the cat’s tail? Fear not, the Manx often has no tail to pull on. As long as they’re socialised with children when they’re young they make wonderful family cats. The playful Manx loves to have fun, play fetch or jump and climb high up, although they’re not overly active. This friendly and affectionate breed is sweet-tempered and enjoys being with its owners.  

9. Ragdoll 

Ragdoll cat

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This cat was actually named after children's toy, the floppy rag doll in the way it likes to relax and be carried as it stretches out. It’s no surprise then that, just like a doll, kids adore this breed. They’re perfect companions for children, especially younger ones, thanks to their gentle, loving, laidback nature. They’ll curl up on your lap and greet you at the door when you get home, but while they’re affectionate they’re not overly demanding.  

10. Siamese 

Siamese cat laying in grass, one of the most playful cat breeds

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Forget about what your kids think they know about the scheming Siamese breed from Disney’s 101 Dalmatians. Siamese cats may be mischievous, but they are sweet and playful. The highly intelligent Siamese will entertain your family with its agility and athleticism. Just make sure you have lots of energy to play with and entertain them too as they need plenty of stimulation. They are not only super affectionate as a breed, but also very talkative so you and your kids will always be in good company.  

Cats that are not suitable for kids

While there are plenty of cats that will make a perfect addition to your family, there are certain breeds you may want to avoid.

The Turkish van, for example, isn’t much of a cuddler and won’t enjoy being held for too long or kids that don't understand this. Breeds such as the Singapura don’t enjoy loud noises, which can be an issue with children. Be sure you do your research and you’ll have a happy family and cat. 

Zara Gaspar
Zara is Editor on bookazines and covers a range of topics from cookery to travel and animals. Her latest first edition, What Your Dog Wants You To Know, is the ultimate guide to understanding your dog’s body language. 
Former editor of World of Animals magazine, she has over 8 years of experience in publishing inspiring children and adults about the wonders of the animal kingdom as well as teaching them about their pets. She also has over 5 years experience working with vets, wildlife experts and animal behaviourists in her comms roles for various animal charities. 
A keen animal lover, Zara can often be found researching her next wildlife destination to travel to. Having just moved into a bigger house she is currently looking at which dog and cats breed would suit her new family so she can fill her house with pets.