The Top 5 Cat Breeds For Kids

cat kitten tabby kids children family friendly

Cats and children can get along famously with the right guidance

When picking out a new furry friend, it is important to make the right choice for your household. For some, the most important thing is choosing a cat that gets along with dogs; for others, a cat that is low maintenance is of utmost importance. However, if you’ve got a household with children in it, you’ll want to bring home a kitty that will do well with your children. Cats can be great companions for children of any age.

Besides their breed, there are certainly other factors that go into a cat’s willingness to tolerate and get along with children. Some of the most important factors of a cat’s behavior include:

Age: A cat’s temperament and behavior changes over time along with their age. A kitten may have no idea how to peacefully interact with adults and children alike. Many kittens can’t distinguish between play and real fighting and can end up biting or scratching harder than they intended to. On the other end, elderly cats often become senile and may behave in a similarly inappropriate manner.
Background history: For any animal, early exposure to humans is key when it comes to socialization. If you are adopting an adult cat, you may be able to get information on their background and be able to select a cat that is notable for getting along with children. Most cats can learn trust and tolerance over time, but the earlier and more exposure that any given cat has had with children, the more likely they’ll be able to get along. If you’re getting a kitten, it is important to socialize them early on and teach them desirable behaviors.
Health: One of the most common symptoms of a cat with a health problem is a change in their behavior; usually negative. If a cat has a health problem that is causing them pain, they will likely have a shorter temper and therefore be less tolerant of children and playtime.

As you can see, many factors go into a cat’s willingness to get along with children, and you can’t bank on one breed being guaranteed to get along with children. However, certain breeds have been known over time to be extra calm, outgoing, and tolerant of children. The following breeds are our suggestions for cat-friendly felines:

Maine Coon: The Maine Coon is the largest housecat in the world. These gentle giants are known to be calm, patient, and easygoing. They’ll still play and entertain your household, but would rather take a nap and hang out than explore most days. Maine Coons have long, fluffy fur and require brushing so that their hair doesn’t become matted, adding a bit more responsibility than a short-haired cat. However, this responsibility could be a great lesson for a child.

American Shorthair: American Shorthairs are the most common kind of cat found in the U.S. These cats’ personalities can vary greatly, but a well-adapted and socialized American Shorthair would be a great cat for a family. They come in every color that a cat can be, giving you lots of options for aesthetics. American Shorthairs are known to be energetic and outgoing,

Ragdoll: Ragdolls are not only adorable, but kind and silly. They get their name from the breed’s peculiar habit of flopping in a ragdoll-like manner when picked up. This is a great trait for a cat to carry, especially in a family with children who will most likely want to pick the cat up. Their ragdoll nature makes them less fussy and less likely to use their claws or teeth to get out of a situation.

Persian: Persian cats like to be the life of the party and the center of attention, which could work out well for a family with playful children. Their squishy faces and fluffy tails are endlessly entertaining to look at, and they only require a medium amount of maintenance depending on the length of their hair. Persians are usually very tolerant in nature, and would be great with kids.

Abyssinian: One reason an Abyssinian would be a great cat for a household with children is their brave nature and outgoing personality. Abyssinians are known to thrive in family situations, as they enjoy the constant energy and stimulation. They may not be lap cats, but they’re great for endless entertainment and lots of playtime.

cat kids children orange tabby

This kitty appears to be very child-friendly!

Regardless of what breed you decide to go with, kids need to know how to interact with a cat if they’re going to try to befriend one. No matter how well-socialized your cat is, or how much they’ve enjoyed kids in the past, it is important to teach your kids how to behave appropriately with a furry friend. Even the nicest cat can snap when being tickled too hard or having their tail pulled. The following are some tips to teach your children in order to keep the peace between them and your cats:

Never pull a cat’s tail, paws, ears, or other extremities: This one may seem obvious, but for a child who isn’t familiar with felines, this is rule number one.
Always let a cat sniff you when first greeting: Whether you’re greeting a cat that you’ve known for years, or meeting a new one, you should always let a cat sniff you upon first greeting. This way, you can get a sense of the cat’s mood and let them set the tone for affection.
If a cat seems agitated or annoyed, don’t push it: Sometimes it is hard to explain to kids why a cat wouldn’t want to play with them, but once they learn to be patient and let the cat come to them, the relationship can begin to form.
Be patient when meeting a new cat: Similar to leaving an agitated cat alone, it’s important to be calm when meeting a new kitty. Some cats are more outgoing than others, and a shy cat needs time to prepare to meet a stranger.
Pet the kitty shoulders to tail: For children (and adults) who aren’t familiar with cats, a simple first reaction would be to pet a cat’s soft underbelly. Unfortunately, this is the easiest way to have a bad interaction with a cat, since 90% of cats will bite or claw when their tummies are touched, even if they’re exposing them. Teaching a child to pet from the cat’s shoulders and along the back to the tail will help them get along better and quicker.
Be careful with picking a cat up: Picking a cat up requires a level of trust that takes time between a cat and a person. Help your child read the body language of your cat and let them know when your cat might let you pick them up, or if your cat is the type that never wants to be handled.

Teaching your child these rules and helping them understand kitty’s body language will result in a more peaceful home, and help protect your child against harmful bites and scratches. Cats are only barely domesticated and will always revert back to their feline ways if they’re pushed too far. When introducing a new cat into your home, you should monitor the cat and small children together at all times for the first few months. Cats can be unpredictable, and it is hard to tell if they’ll get along with children right off the bat.

As long as you keep the peace and monitor your children’s behavior with your cat and your cat’s behavior in general, you can have a happy and harmonious home. Make sure to check out our articles on how to introduce cats to each other, and how to introduce cats and dogs as well.

Do you have a cat and child that get along famously? Leave your story in the comments!