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13 friendliest cat breeds that make perfect pets

friendliest cat breeds
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Think cats are standoffish? Think again! Our guide to the friendliest cat breeds are full of marvellous moggies who love nothing more than meeting and greeting their human companions.   

While cats may not be a dog’s best friend, they’re far from the unfriendly and aloof pets they have the reputation for being. Many people wonder whether cats are playful and interested in the people around them and, yes, some like their independence, but cats can be just as friendly, loveable and affectionate as dogs. 

Whether it's curling up on your lap or rubbing up against your legs for cuddles or trying to get your attention for a bit of playtime by leaping, climbing and running around, cats show their affection for their owners in different ways. If you're considering adopting a kitten or a full-grown cat into your household, it's important to get the right match for you, your family and your lifestyle from the outset. 

Looking for an energetic feline to add to your household? Be sure to explore our guide to playful cat breeds too, or if you're more laidback in personality, these affectionate cat breeds are also calm and full of cuddles.

PetsRadar's pick of the friendliest cat breeds

1. Maine Coon 

A Maine Coon cat, one of the most playful cat breeds

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Known as the gentle giants of the cat world, Maine Coons are large cats (weighing up to 25 pounds) with tufts of hair at the tips of their ears. They are often quite independent, but they still love to be around their owners. They may not typically be lap cats, but they still enjoy a cuddle and will show their affection with headbutts and chirping sounds. This intelligent breed is playful and curious so it not only likes to play with puzzle toys, but gets along with cats, dogs and children.  

2. Siamese 

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

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Known for its piercing blue eyes and distinctive colouring, this sociable cat is the life of the party. The vocal breed loves to chat and has an outgoing and energetic personality. However, the loving Siamese is just as happy on your lap or by your side. While they’re very affectionate with their owners and get on well with other cats, they can be cautious around strangers. Just don’t leave them alone for too long. This is one cat that needs attention. 

3. Abyssinian 

Abyssinian, one of the most playful cat breeds

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One of the oldest cat breeds, this energetic bundle of joy lives life to the fullest. They’re quite quiet and might not sit on your lap, but they will be your best friend and will always be by your side and show you lots of affection. They’re highly active and athletic so can often be found climbing or exploring. Smart, curious and playful, they love attention so can get bored if they don’t get enough interaction.  

4. Ragdoll 

Ragdoll cat standing outside in amongst potted herbs

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This gentle and laidback cat certainly lives up to its name, which it gets from the relaxed, floppy nature in which they lie when they’re being carried around. The adorable breed loves cuddles and spending time with its owners.  They make wonderful lap cats and will follow you around the house, even greeting you at the door when you return home. While they’re not overly active, they are playful and can learn to fetch just like puppies. They get on with cats and dogs and are suitable for homes with children and grandparents, as well as apartments.  

5. Sphynx 

hypoallergenic cat breeds: Sphynx cat

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While this hairless breed may put some people off because of its looks, if you adopt a Sphynx you’ll have one of the friendliest cats around. The talkative cats are great company. They truly are social butterflies. Playful, curious and mischievous, these cats love to show off and be the centre of attention, but they still have lots of time for keeping you warm with their cuddles and will do whatever they can to please their owners.  

6. Persian 

Persian cat lying on hardwood floor looking at camera

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 If you want a friendly lap cat, then the Persian is the breed for you. One of most popular cats due to its fluffy and cuddly nature, the Persian is well-behaved and likes a routine. The long-haired breed loves nothing more than to curl up on their owner to show its love. Their sweet and gentle nature makes them loving companions. They’re generally quite quiet, but they may chirp or cry if they want your attention.  

7. Burmese 

friendliest cat breeds: burmese cat

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Burmese cats are definitely people cats who love to spend as much time as possible with their owners. You won’t get much privacy with this breed. They are very curious so can often be found people watching at the windowsill, walking in front of the TV to see what you’re enjoying or investigating open cupboards. They are very affectionate and are always up for a cuddle.  Energetic and playful, they also get on with children, cats and dogs. 

8. Birman 

Birman kitten hiding in a box

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 This easy-going, smart and friendly breed is known for its blue eyes and beautiful long-haired colourpointed coat. Luckily for you, they’re also sweet-natured and affectionate so you’ll get in lots of cuddle time if you make friends with them. The social breed loves attention, but is generally quite quiet and chilled out. They may be a good playmate for kids as they’re gentle, patient and the perfect balance between loving and relaxed and active and playful.  

9. Exotic Shorthair 

friendliest cat breeds: exotic shorthair

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 The Exotic Shorthair is sometimes nicknamed the lazy man’s Persian because the breed is similar to the Persian cat, but requires less grooming as they have shorter hair. They make loyal friends and you won’t be able to resist their sweet, round face and soft coat. This lap cat is very affectionate and loves to cuddle although they won't cling to you as much as the Persian. This cat enjoys the quiet life and can be left on its own. 

10. Scottish Fold 

Scottish Fold rolling on their side on floor

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You’ll love this friendly and laidback cat, not only for its personality, but for its unique folded ears and peculiar poses. You may find them lying spread out flat on the floor or sitting up on their back legs like a meerkat. The sweet-natured breed is happiest when in the company of its owners and makes for an affectionate pet who loves to snuggle up with you. They socialise well with cats, dogs and children, but don’t leave them alone for long as they want someone there to play with.  

11. Bengal

Bengal cat being stroked by a woman's hand

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Bengal cats are gorgeous (and expensive) cats that really love people. They are gentle and affectionate, and get along well with people, kids, and other animals (they love a good cat-friendly dog). Bengals can have pretty quirky personalities - they love to investigate and explore and can learn tricks rather easily. They aren't really lap cats, but do love to be around their human family members, so expect them to be nearby quite often. 

12. Bombay

Bombay cat sitting at top of cat tree

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The beautiful Bombay cat can act as your little witchy familiar, as they are a confident and friendly breed. They usually get along with other cats and cat-friendly dogs, but they do like to rule over their dominion, so take your current pets' dispositions into account when considering a Bombay. Bombay cats are often called velcro cats, as they love being by their owners' sides, and are considered to be especially good with strangers. 

13. Cornish Rex

hypoallergenic cat breeds: Cornish Rex

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This hypoallergenic cat is considered especially playful and affectionate. The Cornish Rex will seek out attention from their owners and form strong bonds with families, especially children. They love to play and show off their athletic ability, with many even enjoying a good game of fetch. They're great cats for families who can cater to their high activity levels - but beware, as a Cornish Rex can turn destructive if left home alone and not entertained for long periods of time. 

Consider a rescue

We have to mention that rescue cats, which are often non-pedigree cats known as Domestic Shorthairs, can be some of the friendliest cats around. Domestic Shorthair is a name given to cats of mixed ancestry that don't fall under a particular breed - they're just called that usually for shelter/rescue classifications. Whether they're abandoned by their owners, found as kittens or friendly strays, rescue cats can really warm up to people, and can be a great fit in any home. If you're considering getting a cat, adoption preferable, as there are so many cats in shelters who need homes. 

 Friend for life 

While this list may help you choose the best cat for you, friendliness and personality will always come down to the individual animal. One Ragdoll may be super laidback, while another may have lots of energy. It’s important to talk to a breeder or shelter before bringing a cat home to make sure they’re right for you. All cats are different but once you find that bond, as long as you show you treat your cat right, no matter what breed you choose they’ll show you love in return – even if it’s in their own special way. 

Zara Gaspar

Former editor of World of Animals magazine, Zara is a freelance writer with a passion for wildlife. Born in South Africa, she developed a love of animals from an early age. She is currently looking for a bigger house just so she can get a cat and a dog.