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Cat Breeds: Finding the Right Cat for You and Your Family

Undecided about whether you want a Siamese cat or a Scottish Fold? Here are some top cat breeds to consider -- even if you have allergies!

More than just a roommate, cats are family members! If you’re thinking of owning a cat, understanding the differences in cat breeds and their respective personalities ahead of time can help you make the best decision about what cat to choose. While some cats seem more active and playful, others are more docile. “There are even specific breeds to consider if you want a cat that’s less likely to scratch,” according to Dr. Jennifer Woll, a licensed veterinarian, feline expert, cat breeder and blogger.

Before you make your selection, spend time with a potential furry family member to be sure your cat’s temperament matches your own. “If a cat shows interest in becoming part of your family, you know that you are on the right path,” says Val Heart, a nationally known animal communicator, cat behavior expert and author. To further aid you in your search to find the cat that’s right for you, here are some of the most popular cat breeds, grouped by personality traits.

Playful Cats

  • Siamese
    The playful Siamese cat can keep you entertained for hours with an active nature and spunky attitude. You can easily identify a Siamese by the classic tan body and brown or black face and feet. However, don’t bring home a member of this breed if you’re sound sensitive — they tend to be yowlers.


  • American Shorthair
    You can find the classic American Shorthair at any pet shelter or adoption center. Coat color and pattern vary widely. As an active, loving and intelligent cat, an American Shorthair can add a lot of energy to your home, along with a little mischief.


  • Abyssinian
    A skilled climber and super active feline, the Abyssinian will make the perfect pet if you want a cat with energy to spare. An Abyssinian’s beautiful and unique coat looks tawny to golden and resembles a cougar’s. However, if you want a cat that’s seen and not heard, avoid this very vocal kitty.

Relaxed Cats

  • Persian
    If you’re laid back, bring home a Persian cat to blend right in. Persians’ personalities closely resemble their relaxed, flat faces and slow, lumbering gaits. They will quickly curl up for a cozy nap next to you, and you won’t even hear a peep out of them. However, this cat might not fit someone who’s looking for a more active cat to play with, and the extra long coat needs regular grooming.


  • Maine Coon
    Gentle, sweet and aloof pretty much sums up the personality of a Maine Coon cat. They will relax, stretch out across your couch and hang out with you while you watch a movie, but will quickly hide out of sight when friends and family come to visit. Although not as long as a Persian, the Maine Coon can grow to a very large size. The coat can become long and shaggy.


  • Chantilly
    Sweet and good-natured, a Chantilly makes a great feline companion if you want a docile, fluffy cat without a lot of maintenance. Chantilly cats make great travel buddies, too. Their soft coats appears brown to black with less fur around the face than other long-haired breeds. However, if you work long hours outside the home, you might consider a different breed. The Chantilly needs a lot of company and can become depressed if left alone for too long.


  • Birman
    These cuddle bugs will cozy right up with you for hours. If you want a cat that will literally sleep in your lap, the Birman is the one for you! The coat pattern closely resembles the markings of a Siamese, but this breed has slightly longer hair and a much more docile temperament. Although very mellow, the intelligent Birman is also curious and can get into things.

Cats for Allergic Owners

  • Sphynx
    Think you can’t have a cat because of your allergies? Think again! The Sphynx cat is a hairless breed, so there’s no shedding to contend with. This breed definitely draws attention! Plus, you have to make sure that the cat’s skin does not become sunburned. The Sphynx needs a lot of attention, exercise and social interaction, so this cat breed works well for families, but not so well if left alone for most of the day.


  • Oriental
    Although the Oriental cat has hair, the short hair length of this breed does not cause the same type of reaction in people with allergies as other cat breeds. In fact, most owners of Oriental cats do not have allergy problems. The cat can be quite vocal and has a fun, silly spirit.

Social Cats

  • Scottish Fold
    Silly, smart and active, the Scottish Fold loves to please people and get into the action. This social cat have distinctively thick, gray hair and flat, “folded” ears that give this cat his name. Full of fun, you will laugh till it hurts watching the Scottish Fold’s antics as he gets into strange body positions. He loves puzzles and active toys, such as catnip-filled mice, but does not like to stay alone for long periods of time.


  • Japanese Bobtail
    The first thing you might notice about the Japanese Bobtail — the missing tail! The Japanese Bobtail has a distinctive “bobbed” tail, white body and orange to brown markings on her head, back and tail area. She’s extremely people-oriented and loves human companionship, making this breed perfect for someone living alone in need of a little company. Active and agile, you will need to keep her entertained or she just might start practicing her agility on your living room furniture!


  • Ragdoll
    Well known as great companions, Ragdolls’ highly affectionate behavior makes them perfect for families with small children. They love to snuggle, have a soft, medium-length coat with distinctive dark markings on the face, and a gentle, loving spirit. Among cat breeds, “the Ragdoll cat is the most social,” says Dr. Woll.

    These cats, she says, “love playing with their owners and do it without baring claws.” This makes a Ragdoll cat a perfect playmate, she notes. However, this cat can become really large, so you might want to try a different breed if you’re looking for a smaller cat.

Playful, docile, quirky, or fun – a cat is a welcome addition to anyone’s life!

Kelly Sundstrom is an award-winning journalist, author, artist and national special needs spokesperson. As the caretaker of two dogs, five cats and a bearded dragon, Sundstrom knows the importance of finding the right pet breed for your family.