Guide to Cat Breed Personality Traits

Norwegian Forest Cat
Norwegian Forest Cat, Heikki Siltala, catza.net

Which breed of cat is right for you? Researching breed personalities before adopting helps to ensure a good match between owner and cat.

Each cat breed has a typical set of personality traits and behavioural qualities. Of course there will always be exceptions, but if you’re interested in adopting a purebred, you can increase the likelihood of getting a cat whose temperament is in harmony with your own by doing a bit of breed research beforehand.

Making a list of qualities that you’d like in a cat can help in choosing a breed. Do you like talkative cats, or prefer a cat that is not particularly noisy or demanding? Do you want a very active cat that may be a bit more of a handful, or a peaceful, quiet cat that will sit on your lap for hours on end? Are you concerned about whether or not your new cat will get along with a resident dog? The following breed characteristics may help in making a selection.

Sociable Cat Breeds

Many people prefer an extroverted cat. Some of the more outgoing cat breeds include:

    • Abyssinian
    • American Curl
    • Balinese
    • Birman
    • Bombay
    • British Shorthair
    • Burmese
    • Colourpoint Shorthair
    • Egyptian Mau
    • Havana Brown
    • Himalayan
    • Japanese Bobtail

      Japanese Bobtail Cat
      Japanese Bobtail Cat, Heikki Siltala, catza.net
    • Javanese
    • LaPerm
    • Maine Coon
    • Manx
    • Norwegian Forest Cat
    • Oriental
    • Persian
    • Ragdoll
    • Scottish Fold
    • Siamese
    • Siberian
    • Singapura
    • Snowshoe
    • Somali
    • Sphynx
    • Tonkinese
    • Turkish Angora
    • Turkish Van

Affectionate Cat Breeds

Some of the more affectionate cat breeds include:

    • American Curl
    • American Wirehair
    • Balinese
    • Birman
    • Burmese
    • Cornish Rex
    • Devon Rex
    • Exotic Shorthair
    • Havana Brown
    • Himalayan
    • Javanese

      Devon Rex Cat
      Devon Rex Cat, Heikki Siltala, catza.net
    • Japanese Bobtail
    • Korat
    • Maine Coon
    • Manx
    • Norwegian Forest Cat
    • Ocicat
    • Oriental
    • Persian
    • Ragdoll
    • Siamese
    • Singapura
    • Snowshoe
    • Sphynx
    • Tonkinese
    • Turkish Angora
    • Turkish Van

Intelligent Cat Breeds

Intelligence varies widely within each breed, so it’s impossible to rank every breed based on this trait. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the following may be among the more clever breeds overall, but there are brighter and duller cats within each breed:

    • Abyssinian
    • American Bobtail

      ocicat
      Ocicat, Heikki Siltala, catza.net
    • Balinese
    • Bengal
    • Bombay
    • Burmese
    • Chartreux
    • Colourpoint Shorthair
    • Devon Rex
    • Egyptian Mau
    • Havana Brown
    • Javanese
    • Korat
    • Manx
    • Norwegian Forest cat
    • Ocicat
    • Oriental
    • Russian Blue
    • Siamese
    • Siberian
    • Singapura
    • Somali
    • Sphynx
    • Tonkinese
    • Turkish Angora
    • Turkish Van

Talkative Cat Breeds

For those who like a chatty cat, the Siamese is often the number one choice. Other talkative breeds include:

    • Balinese
    • Burmese
    • Colourpoint Shorthair
    • Cornish Rex
    • Devon Rex
    • Egyptian Mau

      Birman Cat
      Birman Cat, Heikki Siltala, catza.net
    • Japanese Bobtail
    • Norwegian Forest Cat
    • Ocicat
    • Oriental
    • Siberian
    • Snowshoe
    • Sphynx
    • Tonkinese
    • Turkish Angora
    • Turkish Van

Longest-Lived Cat Breeds

There is significant variance in longevity based on medical care and whether or not cats are allowed outside. With good veterinary care and barring accidents or severe medical problems, anecdotal evidence suggests that Siamese and Manx cats are among the longest-lived breeds.

Lap Cats

While there are certainly exceptions to this rule, breeds that are more inclined toward lap-sitting include:

    • Birman
    • Bombay
    • Burmese
    • Chartreux
    • Cornish Rex
    • Devon Rex
    • Havana Brown
    • LaPerm
    • Nebelung
    • Ocicat
    • Oriental
    • Persian
    • Ragdoll
    • Russian Blue
    • Scottish Fold
    • Selkirk Rex
    • Siamese
    • Sphynx
siamese cat
Siamese Cat, Heikki Siltala, catza.net

Tonkinese cats may lap-sit, but they are more likely to prefer sitting on their favourite humans’ shoulders.

Quiet, Undemanding Cat Breeds

Quiet, undemanding cat breeds include:

    • Birman
    • Bombay
    • Chartreux
    • Havana Brown
    • Himalayan
    • Nebelung
    • Persian
    • Ragdoll
    • Russian Blue
    • Scottish Fold
    • Selkirk Rex

“Doglike” Cats

The Manx is probably the most doglike breed of cat. Manx cats are more amenable to learning tricks than most breeds, and many will even play fetch. They are also more likely to be comfortable traveling in vehicles, and tend to follow their favourite humans around the house. Other cats with doglike traits include:

    • American Curl
    • Burmese
    • Chartreux
    • Cornish Rex
    • Devon Rex
    • Japanese Bobtail
    • Maine Coon
    • Ocicat (also one of the easiest breeds to leash-train)
    • Scottish Fold
    • Siberian
    • Turkish Van

Laid Back Cat Breeds That Usually Get Along with Cat-Friendly Dogs and Kids

While many cats can learn to tolerate or even enjoy the company of dogs, the Scottish Fold, Ocicat, and Burmese are actually inclined to like dogs. Laid-back breeds breeds are also more inclined to get along with other pets and children. Some of the more easy-going breeds include:

    • American Bobtail
    • American Curl
    • American Shorthair
    • British Shorthair
    • Birman
    • Burmese
    • Cymric
    • Egyptian Mau
    • Exotic Shorthair

      exotic shorthair
      Exotic Shorthair Cat, Heikki Siltala, catza.net
    • Himalayan
    • Japanese Bobtail
    • Maine Coon
    • Manx
    • Norwegian Forest Cat
    • Ocicat
    • Persian
    • Ragdoll
    • Scottish Fold
    • Selkirk Rex
    • Siberian
    • Sphynx
    • Tonkinese
    • Turkish Van

Any breed of cat is more likely to accept a dog or another cat if the introductions are handled properly. For information on how to smooth the first contact between a resident pet and a new adoptee, see Can Cats and Dogs Be Friends?

Highly Active Cat Breeds

For those who want a lively, high-energy cat, the best choices are usually:

    • Abyssinian
    • American Curl
    • Balinese
    • Bengal
    • Burmese
    • Colourpoint Shorthair
    • Cornish Rex
    • Devon Rex
    • Egyptian Mau
    • Japanese Bobtail
    • Javanese

      Manx Cat
      Manx Cat, Heikki Siltala, catza.net
    • Korat
    • LaPerm
    • Ocicat
    • Oriental
    • Siamese
    • Siberian
    • Singapura
    • Somali
    • Sphynx
    • Tonkinese
    • Turkish Angora
    • Turkish Van

Other Factors to Take Into Account When Choosing a Cat Breed

In addition to personality, time may be an issue. Long-haired breeds such as Persians and Himalayans are not a good choice for those who don’t have the time to groom their cats daily to prevent tangles and hairballs. For those who like the Persian face and body type but don’t have a lot of time to spend on grooming, the Exotic, also known as “the Lazy Man’s Persian,” is a shorthaired variant.

Another factor to take into account is cat allergies. For cat lovers who suffer from allergies, anecdotal evidence suggests that Siberian and Devon and Cornish and Rex cats are less likely to produce allergic reactions than other breeds. Allergy sufferers should spend time with the cat to be adopted or a different cat of the same breed to gauge allergic reactions before adopting.

To read detailed profiles of the cat breeds listed above, see the Cat Breeds page. For a full list of cat articles, see the main Cats page.

References:

    • Animal Planet “Cat Breed Selector.”
    • Cat Fanciers’ Association “Breed Profiles”
    • Christensen, Wendy, and the Staff of the Humane Society of the United States. (2002). The Humane Society of the United States Complete Guide to Cat Care. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
    • Hotchner, Tracie. (2007). The Cat Bible: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know. London: Penguin Group.

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