17 of the Most Popular Cat Breeds For First-Time Owners
Getting your first cat is both an exciting and overwhelming experience. Although adoption and rescue are always recommended, taking home a cat from a rescue or a shelter means your cat will most likely not be purebred. If you do choose to add a pedigreed cat to your family, you should try to look for a breed that fits your own character and personality. Hence, it’s of the utmost importance for new cats owners to look at a cat’s grooming needs, energy level, vocalness, adaptability, curiosity, degree of affection, and appearance before adding the furball to their household.
To help you in your search, we put together this informative gallery of the best breeds for new cat owners. It’s important to remember though that every cat is unique and therefore might not exactly match the physical traits and personality characteristics of its breed. Of course, it’s those little differences that make cat owners love their hairy companions so much. Here are 17 cat breeds that are purr-fect for new cat owners.
Looking to add a very vocal cat to the family? The Siamese has a distinctive voice, a raspy yowl that can be loud, and they’re not afraid to voice their thoughts, Keiger said. They’re also very loving and very persistent in getting their wants and desires met, because with their loud purr, you can’t help but indulge them, she said.
The Siamese is also known for its sleek body, wedge head, colored points, muscular grace, long legs, and slender tail, Dr. Burch said. They’re also recognizable with their short and silky coat that comes in a variety of colors and deep blue, almond-shaped, and slant-positioning eyes, she said.
2. Russian Blue
Russian blues are sweet-tempered and loyal cats, known for their silky, short blue coats and large, green brilliance eyes. Russian blues are pretty quiet except when it’s mealtime, Dr. Burch said. “Russian blues are devoted and affectionate to their family but can be shy around strangers,” she said, noting that these cats are also susceptible to their human’s mood and will provide comfort when needed.
The Russian blue is also one of the most intelligent breeds, Keiger said. “I think that it senses what you’re thinking before you even think it,” she said. “Because of this, it’s reserved, wanting to check out anything and anyone new to make certain that it is not a threat. But once they have decided that you are their person, you will have an unbroken bond.” She also explained that Russian blues are moderately active, loving to play hard, eat well, and rest well.
3. Maine Coon
Maine coons are perfect for owners who like dogs but want cats. They’re curious, gentle giants with long, flowing coats who like to follow you around like a pup! “Inside is a gentle soul who would much rather be hanging out with its person and will follow you around just to see what’s going on,” Keiger said, noting that people are always surprised the first time they hear a Maine coon meow. “This lion-like cat doesn’t roar but has a high-pitched voice!” she said.
The Maine coon’s size and distinctive coat are the breed’s most easily recognized characteristics, Dr. Burch said. Like all long-haired cats, Maine coons benefit from frequent combings due to their uneven and shaggy fur having three different lengths, she said. They also have large tufted paws to provide protection when walking on the snow and large ears to hear predators and prey.
Defined by its pointed pattern, the ragdoll has a long coat, although not as long as the Persian or Maine coon, Keiger said. With plush and silky fur, the ragdoll requires minimal grooming, Dr. Burch said, noting that a ragdoll’s appearance is well-balanced without any extreme features.
Dr. Burch further explained that ragdolls are very docile and gentle while playing as well as great cats for a busy lifestyle due to their easy care and well manner. “They are affectionate and will ensure to greet you every time you return home,” she said. “They can be taught different tricks, including fetch and come.” They’re a best-buddy kind of cat!
If you’re looking for a cat with a relatively low activity level and long flowing coat, the Persian might be the right cat for you! “A cat that really seems like a living doll — that’s the Persian!” said Teresa Keiger, The Cat Fanciers’ Association allbreed judge. With big round eyes, a large round head, and a massive body with short legs, the Persian is a great cat to come home to after a long day, she said.
Persians communicate with their soft voice and expressive eyes, said Michelle Burch, DVM, a veterinary writer and adviser at Catological. “They are playful but will not demand to play or be loved,” she said. “They will not be ones to jump high or perform extensive climbing due to their body shape.”
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6. Scottish Fold
Besides those distinctive ears, Scottish folds are known to be sensitive, expressive, and active. “The ears on a show-quality Scottish fold are held down tightly forward against the head, giving it an owl-like appearance,” Keiger said, noting that some Scottish folds’ ears are straight. They also have huge eyes and a round head, she said.
Scottish folds are sweet and affectionate cats that have a very soft and gentle voice, Dr. Burch said, noting that they aren’t vocal often. She further explained that they love human companionship and aren’t afraid to request it in their quiet way. They’re also very comfortable in both a loud multiperson household and a quiet single-person household.
If you’re looking for an energetic, acrobatic cat with an unexpected sense of humor, the Sphynx might be the cat for you! They’re best known for being the hairless cat, Dr. Burch said, noting that some of the Sphynx cat breeds, however, do have hair. “Due to their lack of fur, they will actively seek warm areas, including laps, computers, or under the covers,” she said.
The extra wrinkling on their head also creates different facial expressions of displeasure or frustration, she said, adding that their eyes can also be very engaging and wide. Dr. Burch further explained that the Sphynx are also known for their clumsiness and desire to always be with their human companion, noting that they’re often full of energy and getting into trouble with their naughty behavior.
8. Exotic Shorthair
“Love the idea of a Persian, but intimidated by all that coat to maintain?” Keiger asked. Look into an exotic shorthair!
Although exotics have short coats, their fur is still thick, dense, and plush, helping to give them a teddy-bear look, Dr. Burch said. In terms of their personality, an exotic is a quiet, peaceful, very playful, and loyal companion who, although extraordinarily affectionate, will not follow you around the house, giving you some privacy. She further explained that these cats prefer colder areas to sleep; therefore, you might not find them in your bed at night.
9. Norwegian Forest Cat
The Norwegian forest cat is perfect for someone looking for a more reserved and large cat with a semi-long-haired coat. With a triangular head with flat planes, a large body, and large, almond-shaped eyes, the Norwegian forest cat has front paws that point slightly outward to allow the cat to go head-first down a tree — something no other breed can do, Keiger said. This large breed also has a water-repellant outer coat, she said.
“Norwegian forest cats are very independent and operate on their own time,” Dr. Burch said, noting that they will come to you when they are ready for affection. They also love to be high on a scratching post or cat tree to visualize their landscape, she said
The wild, leopard-like appearance of the Bengal is incredibly distinctive and makes sense for such an active cat. They’re easily recognized by their vivid spots of vibrant color and contrast, glossy coat, wide noses, and prominent whisker pads, Dr. Burch said.
“When bringing a Bengal into the household, be ready for a confident animal who is also very devoted to their companions,” she said. “Bengals will keep you busy with their curiosity and athletic nature and their need to play and learn tricks.” She further explained that these affectionate cats love water so much that you might find them joining you in the shower or helping you brush your teeth.
11. American Shorthair
If you’re looking for a very powerful and pleasant companion cat, then look no further than the American shorthair. Selectively bred to maintain a muscular, stocky, and working body, the American shorthair has a wide variety of colors and patterns, Dr. Burch said. She further explained that because they’re easygoing, affectionate, family-oriented cats, they’re great companions and playmates for families with children. “Along with their loving personalities, they are low-maintenance and healthy cats rarely needing medical care other than their annual checkups with your veterinarian,” she said.
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Looking for an extremely outgoing and personable cat? The Abyssinian might be a great fit for your household. “It insists on being a part of the action, often instigating said action,” Keiger said. The Abyssinian has a muscular body, long arched neck, almond-shaped eyes, and large ears, Dr. Burch said, noting that their coat is ticked, meaning the individual hairs are banded with different colors.
Athletic and colorful, they enjoy a busy household and get along well with children and other other animals, Keiger said. That said, “You will not find an Aby in your lap but will be following you around due to their curiosity,” Dr. Burch said. “These cats want to stay busy and active during the day. They are an excellent breed to train people to their will and demands.”
Siberians are smart, active, and well-balanced. They have a triple coat with medium to long hair and a massive body, since they hail from Russia and needed to endure the cold, northern winters, Keiger said, noting that they come in a wide variety of colors. “They love to interact and be with their people — they actually insist on it,” she added.
Easygoing, personable, and fearless, Siberians are very keen on human’s needs and moods, Dr. Burch said. “This trait makes them ideal for a person that needs emotional support and comfort,” she said. She further explained that they are also enthusiastic acrobats when it comes to playtime, executing aerial somersaults with ease, as well as very adaptable to changing environments as not much disturbs them.
“Another pointed breed, the Birman has a unique, nonmatting, single coat,” Keiger said. Its pointed pattern is overlaid by a proscribed white spotting pattern, giving the cat four white feet. The Birman also has stunning blue eyes set on a round face with a Roman-shaped nose, Dr. Burch added.
Sweet and affectionate, they are mostly quiet cats, Dr. Burch said, noting that most Birmans have a gentle chirping voice and are soft spoken. She further explained that these cats like to help with household tasks and relaxation. They’re also adaptable in families because of their patience and tolerance.
15. Devon Rex
“This breed doesn’t just want to be with you; it will insist on it!” Keiger said. “You will never have an empty lap with a Devon Rex.” That’s not the only whimsical feature of this breed — they also have a naturally curly coat, oversize eyes, and large ears, she said.
“Be prepared to have a large personality when you are around a Devon Rex,” Dr. Burch said. “They are intensely loyal to their humans and ensure they are in their company at all times.” She further explained that these cats are major food hounds, noting that they will try to steal any food off of your plate. They’re also great with children, making for tireless playmates.
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Orientals were created because people wanted the look of a Siamese but with different colors, Keiger explained. Just like the Siamese, they have a distinctive voice, long body, and sweet nature.
“When looking at their face, you will see their distinguishing features of large, flaring ears, almond-shaped eyes, and an angular head,” Dr. Burch said, noting that they also have tall, slender legs with a long tail. She further explained that Orientals are a curious, intelligent breed and therefore will get into anything and everything. “Try hiding a toy or treat, and they will sniff it out, open the drawer, and find it,” she said. These muscular and robust cats desperately need love and attention and will demand it, she added, noting that they are also very playful, often turning any object into a toy.
Like the Siamese and Oriental, but not totally hooked? As a distant cousin to both breeds, the Burmese has a similar voice with that low, raspy yowl, Keiger said, noting that in contrast, the Burmese has a solid pattern, a short body, and large, round eyes within a large rounded head.
“Burmese are people-oriented cats that will follow you from room to room in a dog-like personality,” Dr. Burch said, emphasizing how great of a family cat they make. Confident and soft spoken, these cats will ensure you know their wishes, too.
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