32 best cat breeds for first-time owners

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Bringing a new cat – whether a fluffy little kitten or a senior cat – into your home for the first time is a landmark occasion and the start of an exciting new journey. But it’s not like most new accessories, cat ownership is a long-term commitment.

You’ll need to be sure you’re stocked with things like the best cat food and the best cat toys. You’ll also need to be sure that you are ready for the oncoming practical challenges of getting a kitten, but you’ll also want to research exactly what sort of cat will fit best in your household.

One of the calmest cat breeds may seem an obvious choice for new cat owners, but those who live in a busy household with noisy children will be better off with one of the more playful breeds that are hard-wired to relish a lot of activity. Likewise, a quiet household with a more sedentary human might not be able to fulfill the demands of a more active cat. 

Are you ready to dip your toe into feline ownership? Our guide to the best cat breeds for first-time owners is a great starting place.

32 best cat breeds for first-time owners

1. Ragdoll

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The ragdoll is bred to be affectionate, easy-going, and low-maintenance. They even get their name because of how they tend to go all limp and floppy when picked up - yes, they're that chill. 

Ragdolls are actually a cross between a Persian and a birman, both of which are fairly laidback cat breeds. Ragdolls are incredibly easy-going and affectionate and love a good cuddle. They're friendly and gentle, which makes them a great fit for homes that may have children or other pets. Just keep in mind that you'll need to brush their coat at least twice a week to prevent mats and tangles.

2. Siamese

Siamese cat sitting in owners lap

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If you’re looking for a cat that is both cuddly and talkative, a siamese may be the one for you. The siamese has an unforgettable voice, with a raspy yowl that can be quite loud – and they aren’t afraid to use it. They are very loving but also very persistent, so if they want cuddles, you'll likely be giving them cuddles. 

Siamese cats are affectionate and friendly, and love being around people. They have short hair which means grooming is a breeze. However, they can get a little demanding of attention, so beware.

3. Maine coon

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Maine coons are as big in size as they are in personality. These giant cats love families and love being around their people. They may be big, but they’re gentle giants, as they’re super sweet and affectionate with humans and love to be in whatever room humans are in. 

Maine coons get along well with kids and other pets and are considered non-aggressive. They’re sweet-tempered and very gentle, but they also love to play and hunt. Their long hair needs regular grooming, so keep that in mind when considering the Maine coon. 

4. Scottish fold

Scottish fold cat

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Their folded-down ears and highly adaptable nature are just a few surprising facts about the Scottish fold cat. Scottish fold is an adorable, easy-going cat that would be a great fit for new cat owners. They can easily live in a big house full of kids and other pets or in a single-person apartment in a city.

Scottish folds love to be inside with their owners, and they love affection. They have a cute little chirp that they'll deploy often to maximize their cuddles, and they love being as closest to their humans as possible. They bond quickly with people, and you may recognize them by their very famous owner, Taylor Swift. 

5. Persian

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There are endless reasons to love Persian cats. Just look at that face! With a low activity level and a luscious coat, the Persian is certainly a striking cat that may draw the attention of a first-time cat owner’s eye. Persians are like living dolls with giant, round eyes, a big ol’ head, and a long body with short legs. They certainly are easy on the eyes, and they're incredibly calm and docile as well. 

They aren’t very active, so expect small bursts of energy mixed with a ton of lounging. That means that you won’t need to spend all of your spare time keeping them busy with playthings. Persians adapt well to changes in routine (most cats don’t) and are good with kids and adults. They prefer a quiet time, but they’re not bothered by activity as long as it’s gentle. They’re happy being left alone for long periods of time, but obviously, prefer attention. 

6. Bengal

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Bengals are beautiful cats, and they are as active as they are striking. If you’re the type of person that’s dreamed of owning a leopard, here’s the safe, miniature, substitute. They are confident, but devoted cats, so they’ll be happy to greet people who enter your home. They are very curious and athletic, and they love to play. If you’re looking for a cat that’s a bit like a dog, the Bengals is the way to go – they can even learn tricks! 

The Bengal is just one of the cat breeds that like water so much so that they may try and hop into your shower with you!

7. Birman

Birman cat sitting in cardboard box

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Birman cats are kind, affectionate, and mostly quiet. They have a gentle chirping meow, but are often very soft-spoken, which is just a couple of interesting facts about birman cats. They love to relax and are considered incredibly patient. Birmans are calm and affectionate and love to spend time around their family soaking up tons of affection and cuddles. They get along easily with other pets and with kids. 

They aren’t incredibly active (they love curling up in your lap), but also have a very playful side, and will love to run after objects you’ve thrown. They don’t shed much as they have a silky coat, and only need combing twice a week. 

8. Russian blue

Russian blue sitting inside house

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A few things to know about Russian blue cats is that they are gentle and loyal cats that tend to bond very closely with their family – they can be a bit shy around strangers. They are very susceptible to the mood of their owners, so if you’re feeling down, they may just come over to give you comfort by way of cuddles. 

The graceful Russian blue is one of the smartest cat breeds and they are moderately active in that they rest as hard as they play. They are fairly quiet – except when they think it's dinner time. 

9. Domestic shorthair

domestic shorthair tabby cat

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Domestic shorthairs are cats of mixed ancestry that don’t fall under a particular breed, but they’re often called that by rescues and shelters. In Britain, they’re known as moggies, but they’re widely considered “mutts” of the cat world. These “mutts”, however, make some of the best pets you can possibly have.  

Domestic shorthairs can often be some of the sweetest, cuddliest cats you can find. Whether they‘re abandoned by their owners, found as kittens, or friendly strays, rescue cats can be incredibly affectionate, often forging strong bonds with their adoptive parents after an adjustment period. If you‘re looking to find a cat that is grateful to be in a warm home and cuddled up on a couch with you, these loving felines may be the way to go.

10. Sphynx

Sphynx cat sitting on couch

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Sphynx cats are very cuddly and affectionate and are considered social butterflies. One thing to know about Sphynx cats is that they love to play and relish attention from their owners or visitors – don‘t expect them to go hiding under a bed when new people come around! Sphynx cats don’t have hair, so they don’t require any sort of brushing and they certainly won’t shed, but they do require frequent baths to keep their skin healthy. 

11. Cornish Rex

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There are so many benefits to the Cornish rex that make them ideal for first-time cat owners. First off, they’re incredibly playful and remain so even when they become adults. This manifests itself in their behavior towards humans, so while they’re energetic and active, they’re happy to cuddle up if there’s a spare lap about, too. 

Another interesting fact about Cornish rex cats is that they get on well not only with young children, but other animals too (within reason). This is especially handy if you also own a dog, and are worried about living in a household with mixed pets. Happily, with Cornish rex cats, you likely won’t have to worry about this.

12. Somali

somali cat sitting outside

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Somalis are incredibly active and playful cats, but don’t let that make you worry that they might be too much of a handful – they’re very easy cats to play host to, just as long as you give them plenty of affection, and provide them a means to keep them entertained. 

These could be in the form of toys, but also another cat, as Somalis tend to get on well with most other breeds. They’re also fairly mild in temperament – their mewing will often take the form of quiet chirps rather than the loud, bombastic howls you can quite often get from other cat breeds.

13. Abyssinian

Abyssinian cat sitting on a rug

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A breed that loves nothing more than to show affection to its household humans, the Abyssinian is, without doubt, one of the friendliest cat breeds on this list, making it a top choice should you be looking out for your first cat. 

As well as being playful, they are intelligent and loyal creatures, making them great companions for you. Whether it’s just you, or a household with a large family, it’s very likely that they will be able to easily integrate themselves into any family dynamic, quiet or loud.

14. Himalayan

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From the same overall group as the Persian cat, Himalayans share similar virtues for the new cat owner, such as being peaceful and calm. They are also adaptable, which is a useful attribute that not all cats naturally have! 

This is a laid-back, placid breed, that prefers chilling on the sofa with their human families rather than incessant activity. Of course, they’re not total loungers – especially as kittens, they will indulge in joyful bursts of activity.

And they’re beautiful, with their captivating, big, blue eyes, chubby cheeks and pointed coat. Best of all is their luxuriously soft and fluffy coat – this is a cat you will love to cuddle.

15. Exotic shorthair

Exotic shorthair kitten lying on rug on floor

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An affectionate and friendly breed, without being excessively clingy, the exotic shorthair makes a good cat for feline debutants. They are well-built and sturdy, and have a naturally playful temperament, while also making a gentle and sweet lapcat. Best of all, they simply love humans – especially their own family!  

Although they are from the Persian group, their short dense hair makes them a more low-maintenance breed as they don’t require de-matting. 

16. Norwegian forest cat

Norwegeian forest cat sitting on mossy perch

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Although this is a big, sometimes intimidating-looking cat – due to its large size, rugged looks, and abundant fur – the Norwegian forest cat tends to be brilliant with kids and even other pets. They have super, mild-mannered temperaments and are wonderfully tolerant.  These are just a few reasons to love Norwegian forest cats.

The “Wegie” isn’t the ideal breed for someone who wants a lap cat – they’re too large for one thing – but they do enjoy human attention, gentle scratches and good company. Plus, as you’d expect for a forest cat, they are awesome climbers, so enjoy watching their fantastic agility. 

17. American shorthair

Striped american shorthair cat in a laundry basket

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A mild-mannered and quiet cat, known for its longevity, and playfulness with children and even dogs.  They are highly people-orientated and love to spend time with their human families. Like many cats, they don’t necessarily relish being picked up and carried around but will love to curl up alongside you on the couch. 

And for many first-time owners, this slightly independent streak is a bonus – not everyone wants a clingy cat who can’t tolerate being left alone!  

18. Siberian

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This native Russian breed is an absolute stunner. With its dense triple coat (to withstand Siberian winters), bushy tail, fluffy britches, and magnificent ruff, this is a show-off cat par excellence. Some people believe (though it isn’t scientifically proven) that despite all this fur, this is a hypoallergenic breed – it’s better for people with allergies than some other breeds at any rate. 

Not only are they super-looking, but they are also very personable and love nothing more than spending time with their human family. Being naturally calm and equanimous, they tend to be easy-going with kids, dogs, and other animals. 

If loud feline noises are not your thing, the Siberian is ideal. They tend to express themselves melodically, with gentle mews, trills, and plenty of purring.

And they’re great fun! Enjoy marveling at their acrobatic moves, and superb climbing skills and they can even learn to play fetch. Top cat! 

19. Devon Rex

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This fabulously friendly, mischievous, and intelligent breed is ideal for those who are after a lot of character and fun. This quirky cat, with its crimped coat and bat ears, has an other-worldly look and a clownish personality. Be prepared for them to amuse you all day long with their hilarious antics and superb jumping skills.

One thing to know about Devon rex cats is that they need a bit of attention to make sure they keep warm as they lack natural insulation, but on the plus side their delicate coats need minimal brushing if any at all.  

20. Oriental

Oriental shorthair cat lying on blanket

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Available in long or short hair according to your preference, the Oriental is a beautiful cat suitable for those who like the sleek siamese look, but in a wider variety of colors and coat patterns – more than 600! 

They also have colorful personalities, and can be quite insistent in their desire to share your lifestyle to the utmost – whether you’re tapping away on your computer, brushing your teeth, or choosing which socks to wear, a gentle nudge or brush will make you aware that you’re in it together. Intelligent, curious but ultimately craving our attention and affection, this striking breed is sure to win over the household.

21. Burmese

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They say that if you think you’re more of a “dog person”, you’ll love the Burmese. They are loyal, and loving and can even be taught to play fetch. Maybe you’re really after a puppy but your partner is insisting on a kitten. Settle for a Burmese and everyone’s a winner.

A few reasons to love Burmese cats is that they’re great family cats, low-maintenance, low-shedding, love to play and are always there for you for a snuggle or a chat. 

22. British shorthair

British shorthair cat being stroked

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A laid-back cat who is patient and kind, with a short, plush coat. They tend to get along well with both families and single-person households, and if the energy levels get too demanding, they’ll simply slide off and find a quieter spot to hang out. 

They are affectionate without being clingy and don’t love being carried about. They are easily trained (ideal for a first-timer) and adaptable to any situation, And if it’s a mouser you’re after, these are skills that have long been prized in the British shorthair’s ancestry, which is just one of the many fun facts about British shorthair cats.

23. Bombay

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If you’re only going to have one cat in your life, why not make it a black one? While the jury’s out on whether they’re lucky or unlucky, we’re going with the former, because this glossy, black beauty with its arresting copper eyes is a simply wonderful pet. 

Looking like the wild black panther which was the inspiration for the breed, there is nothing wild about the loveable Bombay. They are trainable – even on a leash – congenial, outgoing, and smart. They tend to have easy-going temperaments and are natural lap-cats. 

24. Burmilla

Burmilla cat head

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A wonderfully friendly yet independent breed, who is a natural with kids – being both playful and sweet in nature. They have a kitten-like quality, even as mature cats, which makes them fun to have around. 

The burmilla emerged as an accidental cross between the Burmese and chinchilla Persian, yet is now a breed in its own right and has the advantages of both its ancestors. It comes in both short and semi-long-haired varieties, and a range of pretty colors, with the sparkling silver coat being the most typical. 

25. Chartreux

Chartreux cat with yellow eyes lying down on cushion

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Would you like to identify with the French aristocracy? If so, the distinctive Chartreux is the cat for you. They date back to the courts of 16th-century France, where they were a popular pet. 

Their blue-gray coat is unique, waterproof, and has a rough, sheep-like feel to it. Great for families as this is a sociable cat, as befits one who has been raised to enjoy life in the French upper-classes! 

26. Japanese bobtail

Black Japanese bobtail outside in field

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The Japanese bobtail has almost no tail – thanks to a genetic mutation – which is unique to this breed. They are energetic, playful, endearing, and joyful, and love nothing more than being the center of your life. They have soft voices, but they aren’t shy of using them, with an almost musical array of tones. 

If you are after an interactive cat, then the bobtail is the one for you. They’ll play fetch, bring you toys or other accessories, and are natural whizzes at feline agility. This is typically a very healthy breed that matures early – so the kittens are on the go fast! These cats need plenty of outlets for their energy, so be prepared to play, play, play. 

27. Korat

grey korat cat sitting on table

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Loyalty is the key characteristic of this silvery cat, which has a shimmering coat (typically better than most for people with allergies, it’s worth noting). 

They have a heart-shaped head, and live out this symbol of love in their bond with their owner. If you happen to get one with a kinked tail, it will bring you luck (so they say in Thailand, where the cat is a popular wedding gift as it symbolizes fertility). 

28. Ocicat

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Not quite an ocelot, but almost! The ocicat – descended from the Abyssinian and siamese – typically has soft spotted fur, and is a total show-stealer with its wildcat looks. It also comes in ticked, tabby, solid and pointed patterns.

Athletic, muscular and well muscled, this is a sporty cat who doesn’t behave anything like its wild look – instead it’s more like a dog! This friendly and affectionate breed enjoys going for walks or even swims, and can be trained to sit and other commands. 

29. Turkish van

Two turkish van cats

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For those that “feel appeal” is a priority, pick the Turkish van, whose soft white fur feels like pure cashmere. Typically white with colored markings on their tails and heads, their pink noses change color when their mood changes. Fascinating, huh? To add to this kaleidoscope, they often have odd-colored eyes. 

They’re loads of fun, and love to jump around and play – so possibly not ideal for those who cherish an immaculate home. They’re communicative – not only via their color-changing noses but with their soft meow.  Finally, this is a cat that enjoys playing in the water, whether it’s faucets, the swimming pool, or wherever they can find it – so keep the toilet seat shut! 

30. Singapura

Singapura cat crouching

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A fairly small and neat cat with huge eyes and ears, giving it an elfin, kitten-like look. This breed, which hails originally from Singapore, is a busybody, so if it’s companionship you’re after as you go about your daily tasks, this charmingly interactive breed is the one for you.

The singapura doesn’t tend to sit still for long – and certainly not on the floor; this is a cat that loves to climb, and play and is insistent on helping you with everything. Their endearingly extrovert and playful disposition is their hallmark. Happily, they aren’t bent on destruction, simply lending you a paw.

31. LaPerm

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Perms have been a beauty trend on and off for the best part of the century and are worth millions to the hairdressing industry – and if curls are your thing, the LaPerm is a cat that has them naturally. 

Their curls vary from waves to corkscrew curls and tight ringlets, while the long-haired version also tends to have a full, curly ruff and wavy plumed tail. 

Not only do they have uniquely striking coats, which are mesmerising to stroke, but they have charming personalities. While they are very active, they also relish being a lap-cat, enjoying your attention and reciprocating with a comforting purr. 

They are interactive and will touch your face with their soft paws. They’ll mirror your mood – if you’re up for playing, they’re high-energy; if you want to sit and chill, so do they. What empathy!

32. Marmalade

Orange tabby cat lying down

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OK, we have to admit, the marmalade cat is not an actual breed, but if you’re a first-time owner isn’t an orange tabby the stuff of fairytales? Orlando, Garfield, Puss in Boots, Tonto, and Bob (the Streetcat) are all famous ginger cats for whom everyone has a soft spot. 

In fact, orange tabbies can be many different breeds – such as Persian, Maine coon, or a simple moggie. And while all ginger (or call it marmalade, orange or red) cats are tabbies, not all tabbies are ginger. The feline redhead with its stunning markings is a great place to start your cat-owning journey. 

Martha Terry
Features editor

Martha is an experienced journalist working in both print and digital media. She specializes in the canine, equine and rural sphere where she has covered a wide range of topics from cloning animals and the ingredients for a perfect yard dog, to helping owners find the best canine GPS trackers on the market. When she’s not busy writing about dogs and horses, she’ll be found either aboard a horse or looking after the menagerie of pets in her care.