The best cats for kids are ones who are gentle, laidback, and playful. Learn about the birman, ragdoll, Himalayan, Maine coon, and other breeds kids love (and vice versa).

By Kate Silver
August 24, 2020
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Kids and cats go together like peanut butter and jelly. A feline friend can be an adorable snuggler, an excellent secret keeper, and—most importantly to parents—a relatively low-maintenance addition to the household that teaches kids patience and responsibility.

When choosing which breed to bring home, though, families must assess their lifestyle and habits, says Teresa Keiger, an all-breed judge with The Cat Fanciers' Association and the organization’s Creative Director. She suggests parents consider the following questions when choosing the best cat for kids: 

  • Do your children know the importance of being gentle and respectful? 
  • Are they responsible enough to remember to keep doors closed? 
  • How energetic is your family? 

“Think about the age and activity level, and that will determine whether you need to think about a cat that can deal with that activity level, or one that is a little more sedate,” Kieger says. 

If you’re looking to bring a new pet into your family, read on to learn about some of the best cats for kids.

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American Shorthair

Laidback and easygoing, these sturdy feline are built for family life. The breed tops the list of the best cats for kids—and they’re one of the most popular picks. These sweet cats are low-maintenance and tend to get along well with anyone, human or pet; they also usually live long, healthy lives. Bonus: With roots as working cats, American shorthairs are skilled at catching rodents, so they’ll pull their own weight in the family.

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Birman

The Cat Fanciers’ Association describes the birman cat as “mystical, magical, and enchanting.” These felines, with their striking blue eyes and sweet faces, are known for being easygoing, gentle, loving, and curious, making them some of the best cats for kids. Birmans are as sociable as they come, and are likely to follow family members around the house, playing and even “helping” with chores—anything to be a part of the action.

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Ragdoll

For families seeking a pet akin to a baby doll, the ragdoll may be your best bet. These cats, who tend to be fairly large and have bright blue eyes, are loved for their habits of collapsing into the arms of the person holding them, just like a ragdoll. This laidback breed truly enjoys human companionship, and they’ll often greet their humans at the door and follow him or her around the home. Smart and playful, ragdoll cats are content to curl up at your side at night or learn a new trick or two by day.

Credit: Getty

Maine Coon

These gentle giants can weigh up to 20 pounds, but they’re beloved for their playful, kitten-like dispositions, no matter their age. Originally a working breed from Maine, you’ll know Maine coons by their sturdy appearances and independent yet loving attitudes. Because they’re friendly toward everyone, Maine coon cats make excellent additions to families and are even popular as therapy cats

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Abyssinian

Active, intelligent, loyal, and people-oriented, Abyssinian cats are great fits for families with older kids (they may opt to bolt away from toddlers and babies). They’re master manipulators when it comes to humans, and they’ll likely have you and your family wrapped around their little fingers, er, paws. As much as Abyssinians like to be around people, though, they’re not lap cats as much as outside observers.   

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Manx

Playful and devoted, the Manx, who originated on the Isle of Man, is another one of the best breeds for kids. With the stock of working cats, these medium-sized, rounded felines—who are often tail-less—are active, but not overly so. Their powerful hind legs help them launch to great heights as they zip around the house, earning the breed its “dog-like” reputation through the cats’ playfulness and loyalty. 

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European Burmese

Fearless European Burmese cats remain playful and friendly well into their senior years. These cats love being around their humans, and they tend to follow family members—including kids and even dogs—everywhere they go. Rumor has it that once you own one of these elegant, low-maintenance cats, you’ll want to stick with the breed forever!

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Himalayan

A cross between the Siamese and Persian, the Himalayan is known to have the best characteristics of both breeds. These cats are sweet and playful by nature and are no strangers to warm laps. With their entrancing appearances (round faces, blue eyes, pouty mouths, and snub noses) and delightful temperaments, Himalayans are a frequent family pick.