Top Cat Breeds for Children
Whether you're expecting a new baby in your family or adding a cat to an existing family, you'll probably start your process by researching the best cat breeds for children.
Cats And Children
Cats and Children are an ideal pairing, especially if you live in an apartment or condo. Playful and energetic cats can get the attention they crave from kids, and kids learn responsible pet ownership. Bonds formed with cats in childhood will be remembered by your children throughout their lives.
Kid-Friendly Personality Types
When assessing the best type of cat for your children, you'll want to select a cat which exhibits the following attributes:
- Tolerance for loud noises and sudden movements
- Not territorial
- Enjoys being handled and pet
- Not prone to nipping or clawing when handled
Beyond that, take into consideration your children's personalities when selecting a cat. If your kids tend to be loud and your house chaotic, you may want to steer clear of breeds like the Persian, who prefer quiet environments.
Top Cat Breeds For Families
Most of these breeds are noted for their calm, affectionate, tolerant and playful temperaments. They are less likely to be possessive of or bonded to individual family members, which means they are less likely to see a new baby as an interloper and a threat. These are all social, people-oriented breeds.
Abyssinian: The Aby is an extremely friendly and sociable breed that loves to play.
Birman: Easygoing and adaptable, the Birman is noted as a go-with-the-flow cat.
Burmese: Friendly and people-oriented, Burmese are very gentle with kids.
Maine Coon: These big mellow cats are naturally sociable and a great cat with kids, but they do need to be brushed daily.
Manx: This tailless breed loves attention, and is also a social, friendly cat.
Ragdoll: If you'd like a longhaired cat who needs less frequent grooming than the Maine Coon or Persian, consider the Ragdoll. They are gentle giants who were named for their propensity to go limp when picked up.
Note: Choosing a cat based solely on breed is short-sighted and does not guarantee a perfect match. If you're limiting your search to specific breeds you might miss out on some of the wonderful mixed breed cats awaiting forever homes at your local shelter, many of whom would be great kid-tolerant pets.
Selecting A Cat
Take your kids with you to select a cat and handle prospective adoptees.
- The cat should approach your kids readily, and display affection. Purring is a very good sign.
- When handled, the cat should not nip or scratch.
- Handle the cat yourself, fairly aggressively. Don't hurt the cat, but pet firmly all over to make sure she doesn't bite when touched.
- Does the cat cringe or try to hide when subjected to sudden loud noises? If so, she might not be the best choice for families with very young children.
- If the cat cowers or hides in a corner, she might not be a good choice in a raucous family environment.
Additional Considerations for Kid-Friendly Cats
1. Adopt An Older Cat: When you adopt an older cat, her temperament is fixed, so you'll get a much clearer picture of whether or note she's kid-friendly. When you adopt a kitten, you can't be sure that her playful scratchy-bitey behavior is due to youthful exuberance or ingrained in her personality.
Also, if you have very young children, an older cat is a better choice because they could accidentally hurt small kittens.
2. Spay/Neuter: Forget about providing a way for your kids to witness the miracle of birth. Spaying or Neutering your cat is the single most important action you can take to ensure that the cat will not lash out at one of your children. Toms are territorial and Queens are unpredictable when in heat; either situation increases the chance that the cat might bite or scratch your child.
And it's never to early to ingrain in your children the importance of spaying and neutering as part of responsible pet ownership.
Raising your kids with cats will teach your children a lifelong love and respect for animals beyond what they'll get from watching Animal Planet. Selecting a cat with just the right temperament for your family will ensure a rich and rewarding experience for everyone.
Photo: Mrs. Gooding
Related Advice from Other Cat Owners
Not So Laid Back, But a Lot of Fun!
Turkish Angoras are phenomenal with children as well. They're fun! Our cat Loki loves water, so he's always keen to splash around when my 21-month-old is in the tub. And he's very tolerant - the screeching of a toddler doesn't make him run and hide. He's very loving, and is always headbutting someone for another for a chin scratch. Turkish Angoras have a reputation of being more dog-like and with ours, it's true. They're not laid-back though...they like to be in the middle of things. Loki shadows my son all day long. If someone were specifically looking for a breed of cat that is active, entertaining, stunningly beautiful and extraordinarily affectionate to the point of tenderness, I would recommend a Turkish Angora.
~April S., owner of a Turkish Angora