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Having a cat is a dream for many people. For those of you embarking on cat ownership for the first time, there’s a lot to learn. Not all feline breeds are the same, and some are not a great fit for inexperienced owners. Some breeds are known to be friendlier than others, while others are smarter, easier to train, and more independent. Researching breeds and spending time with different cats is an excellent way to get a feel for how to interact with them.
So, what kinds of cat breeds should you look for as a new owner? While no one breed is perfect, there are definitely some characteristics to consider. For example, think of your home and lifestyle to decide if you need a kitten who’s more active vs. calm or independent vs. attached.
With so many cat breeds and mixes out there, it can be hard to narrow down which ones are the ideal fit for first-time pet parents. We introduce you to the top 13 of the best cat breeds for new owners.
The 13 Best Cat Breeds For First-Time Owners
Cats are challenging creatures, so prepare for a significant adjustment period if you’ve never lived with one before. Certain breeds are better suited to pair with inexperienced cat owners. Adopting one of these breeds does not guarantee a perfect pet and owner relationship, but they are known to be easier to care for and train than others.
However, remember that all cats are unique, and how well they do in any situation largely depends on the animals themselves and how comfortable they feel. We’ve listed these breeds in alphabetical order.
The Abyssinian is one of the best cat breeds for beginners. It’s not only one of the oldest known feline breeds but is also incredibly smart and extremely loyal. Abys are medium-sized cats who are relatively healthy, though they can be prone to gingivitis. Abys live, on average, 9 to 15 years.
Their high level of intelligence and extroverted personalities make Abyssinians wonderful companions and a good pick for inexperienced feline owners. They appreciate human company and are active. Though outgoing, they are not particularly vocal. When the Abyssinian does decide to speak, people will take notice due to their unique chirping sound. Because of their playful nature, this kitty is sometimes called the “clown of the cat kingdom.”
Abyssinian cats are quite beautiful, with long, athletic bodies and silken coats. They usually have large green or gold-colored eyes, and their fur can come in red, fawn, blue, cinnamon, chocolate, lilac, and even silver. This breed stands out for its ticked coat pattern. They often have tabby coats, including mixed markings.
2. American Shorthair
The American Shorthair has a very easy-going personality and develops a bond quickly with human family members. Though very affectionate, the breed is not super clingy, and they do well when left home alone. They enjoy physical activity, as well as interactive toys that stimulate them mentally. The breed adapts well to new situations, making them an ideal pick for beginners.
The American Shorthair is a medium-sized kitty, yet stocky, with a heavy frame. They have a notably round appearance. This breed is relatively healthy and lives between 12 and 17 years. That said, they can be prone to some medical conditions, including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a common form of heart disease found in felines. The breed is also prone to periodontal and dental disease, so owners must take great care to brush and clean their teeth.
American Shorthairs are known for their love of watching and chirping at birds through the window. They even enjoy walking on a leash, which takes practice and training. Overall, this breed is quite affectionate, social, and playful.
Birman cats are famous for their incredibly friendly nature. They are quiet, gentle, and very affectionate. The breed gets along well with children and cats. Generally speaking, they can acclimate well to households with dogs. They stand out in the crowd for their beautiful colorpoint coat, bold blue eyes, and pure white feet.
Birmans can become clingy and require a significant amount of attention and care every day. Interactive toys are good to have on hand for this breed. They’re extremely active and will need plenty of opportunities for physical activity and mental interaction. Highly intelligent Birmans can be trained easily.
The even temper, patient demeanor, affectionate nature, and overall tolerant personality of the Birman make them a perfect pick for first-timers. They are particularly good for beginner households and do well with changes and activity, so they can be a good pick for homes with small children. That said, the Birman cat price can be high for a purebred. Expect to pay between $600 to $3,000 for a high pedigree.
4. Exotic Shorthair
Known for their adorable flat faces, Exotic Shorthairs have large round eyes and a quiet, gentle nature. They are affectionate and become highly attached to their owners. These cats do well in small spaces and are an excellent pick for smaller homes and apartment living.
Their calm personality fits in well with most families. Despite being mellow and laid back, these kitties are quite active and playful. They will happily engage in interactive play and physical activity.
One of the most notable features of this kitty is the Exotic Shorthair’s impressively large and round head. They have short, thick necks, small, rounded ears, and large round eyes set far apart, giving them a constantly sweet expression.
5. Maine Coon
The mighty Maine Coon is a big cat, reaching between 9 and 25 pounds, making them one of the largest domestic feline breeds around. They stand 10 to 16 inches tall and reach lengths of 40 inches, not counting the bushy tail. With full, shaggy coats and a ruff of fur that creates a lion-like mane, they appear even bigger. Do not let the size intimidate you. These kitties are huge sweethearts. They are nicknamed gentle giants due to their friendly demeanor. They keep a kitten-like attitude well into adulthood and love to play.
Maine Coons are intelligent and can learn to do tricks, walk on leashes, and follow commands. Though independent, these kitties require plenty of attention and interaction. Additionally, Maine Coons are a feline that loves water. Do not be surprised if you catch them playing in the water bowl, faucet, or puddles.
While this breed’s personality makes them an excellent choice for beginner cat owners, it’s important to know that they have long, full coats and require plenty of brushing and grooming. They also need exercise to keep their big bodies in shape. If you have the time to commit to one of these gentle giants, they will make an extraordinary first cat.
The elegant Persian cat is a remarkable sight. With silken coats of long fur, flat faces, and baby doll eyes, the Persian has an adorably pouty look. The look is deceiving, though, as they are quite friendly and sweet. Famous for its docile nature and musical meow, the pretty Persian is not an outdoor cat. Their soft appearance and nature make them a popular pick as a family pet.
Persians are not great for allergy sufferers due to their long coats and regular shedding. Despite that, they are a lovely pick for a first-time owner. Persian kitties are clever, like people, and adapt well to change. They will form a close bond with people but are okay to be left alone for a reasonable amount of time. When with their owner, they will seek attention but are not clingy.
The doll-faced cat, as the Persian is also called, can reach between 7 to 12 pounds, meaning they are on the smaller side. They live reasonably long, on average 12 to 17 years. Persians are a popular breed to crossbreed with due to their delicate appearance and docile nature.
RagaMuffins are a relatively new breed but are quite popular. They’re very friendly and get along with everyone, including other pets. One reason the RagaMuffin is a top pick for first-time owners is their laid-back personality. Often called the “teddy bear” of cats, these felines don’t mind being cuddled just like a stuffed animal. They are calm and do not mind a lazy day of cuddles. However, they are athletic felines and need regular exercise. RagaMuffins are intelligent and pick up on training well.
For first-time pet parents, the RagaMuffin is a lovely pick. They are undemanding, easy to care for, and not overly vocal or hyper. The breed is prone to obesity. Owners will need to take care not to overfeed them. As food-motivated cats, these kitties are always on the lookout for a treat. They have a luxurious look, with medium to long coats. Their hair is full and thick and can come in multiple colors and patterns.
Ragdolls are among the best cat breeds for beginners due to their easy-going temperament and low maintenance needs (although they need regular grooming). They get their name from the breed’s tendency to fall limp, just like an old-fashioned ragdoll toy. This kitty is sometimes described as the perfect cat. Ragdolls are pure sweethearts with no aggression or hyperactivity.
They’re affectionate and playful but not overly energetic and get along with other pets, dogs, and kids. Ragdolls can grow quite sizeable but are beautiful to look at, with semi-long to long coats. Their hair is soft and comes in many colors and patterns. Fun fact: all Ragdoll kittens are born all-white and develop colors as they mature.
9. Russian Blue
Russian Blues love their human family members but may be stand-offish with strangers. They are shy but affectionate with those they trust. Blues aren’t clingy and are happy to spend their days sleeping and exploring while their human family members are at work.
These indoor-only cats do well in apartments or small homes. They need interactive toys and regular playtime but are not a kitty that needs constant attention. The Russian Blue needs daily brushing to keep their coats in top shape. They also have a high prey drive, so be careful around smaller pets like rodents and birds.
Russian Blue cats are quite stunning with muscular, graceful bodies. They have dense, silvery blue coats with bright green eyes. A downy undercoat paired with their silvery outer coat creates a shimmery look. Though rarer in the U.S., the breed has been around for an exceptionally long time.
10. Scottish Fold
Not only are Scottish Folds adorable cats to look at, but they also have an affectionate, peaceful personality. This breed loves human companionship. Their high intelligence and agreeable personality make them a fantastic match for an inexperienced owner. Along with that, Scottish Folds are exceptionally playful, have moderate activity levels, and are quite friendly with both children and other pets when properly socialized.
The Scottish Fold stands out from other cats due to their unique-looking ears that are often folded forward and slightly downward. The ear tips are rounded, and the ears themselves are quite small. Add wide, incredibly open eyes, and these kitties have a very unique expressive face.
Unfortunately, the folded ears also come with some specific health risks. Osteochondrodysplasia, also called “Scottish Fold disease,” can cause some malformations in the bone and joint development. This condition causes the ears to fold but can affect different cartilage around the body. This condition can cause pain, early-onset arthritis, physical discomfort, and behavioral changes.
Because of the risk of developing these health conditions, if adopting a Scottish Fold, owners may want to investigate pet insurance to help manage health care costs.
The exquisite Siamese cat is a top pick for family pets and a suitable breed for first-time owners. This breed is naturally playful and friendly and tolerates children and other pets. They are notoriously chatty, highly energetic, playful, and intelligent. These cats love and thrive when they get human attention and interaction. They are happy to spend their day following their owners around. Some folks might even describe a Siamese cat as being a diva.
Although there are no 100% hypoallergenic feline breeds, Siamese kitties are a top pick for people with allergies due to their short coats and low amount of shedding. These characteristics also make them a good pick for inexperienced owners. They are relatively low maintenance, highly affectionate, very smart, and make for treasured companions.
Siberian cats are very friendly, outgoing, and playful. They enjoy being around children, as well as other pets, including cats and dogs. Though this breed does have high grooming needs due to its luxurious coat, Siberians are a top pick for first-time feline owners. They’re very smart and athletic, with muscular, powerful legs they can use to propel themselves high into the air.
These characteristics mean they need regular mental and physical stimulation. The Siberian is a perfect breed to purchase a large cat tower or set up steps and climbing perches on the wall, as well as plenty of interactive kitty toys.
The Siberian kitty is people-oriented and loves attention. They want to be near their owners and will happily wait at the door or window when you come home. They have a soft meow and, though not as vocal as some breeds, do tend to let their opinion be known.
The Sphynx is an exotic kitty and very friendly, which is why they make our list of best cat breeds for first-time owners. They tend to be very cuddly animals due to being cold a lot. The breed is very energetic, engaging, and quite friendly. While this hairless breed may not be everyone’s first thought for a good breed for beginner owners, they genuinely are one-of-a-kind pets who like nothing more than to please their human family. They generally prefer to have company, whether human or another feline.
The Sphynx is also a top pick for allergy sufferers due to their lack of hair. The lack of body hair makes them get cold quickly, so this breed is perfect for owners who like to dress up pets. Just be aware that the skin can get greasy as there is no hair to catch the oils, so they’ll need a bath about once a week.
Another characteristic that makes the Sphynx cat a good pick for beginner owners is that they’re very clever and highly intelligent. They respond well to positive reinforcement and enjoy learning new games, commands, and tricks. The Sphynx can even learn to play fetch. Their unique look, engaging personalities, and desire to please their owners make the Sphynx a fantastic option for first-time pet owners.
Don’t Forget Mixed Breeds
The breeds we have discussed so far are all purebred, but we must point out that many cats worldwide are mixed breeds. While some are designer breeds mixed on purpose, others occur naturally. Thousands of mixed-breed kittens in shelters across the country need good homes. Mixed breeds are also called Moggy or Moggies.
Mixed breeds can be wonderful companions, though there is a bit of unpredictability on what they will look like until fully grown. I have adopted several mixed breeds and found them to be lovely. Moggies are no more work nor less suited to new owners than a purebred.
Mixed-breed cats come in assorted sizes, coat colors, and patterns. With proper care, socialization, and veterinary treatment, almost any mixed cat can make a wonderful pet, including for first-time owners.
Many first-time owners will be looking for low-maintenance cats. They want a breed that does not need as much grooming, is not as high energy, and is not as clingy as some breeds are known to be. Some breeds can be easier to take care of than others. Those known to be stubborn, like the Tonkinese, Havana Brown, or Oriental Shorthair, should be avoided if owners have no previous cat-rearing experience.
Shorter-haired breeds tend to need less grooming, though there are exceptions to every rule. In addition to our 13 best cats for first-time owners, some other breeds that are lower maintenance include the American Wirehair, Bengal, Burmese, Devon Rex, Japanese Bobtail, and Maltese.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have never had a cat before, there is a lot to learn. Even experienced owners have plenty of questions. I have owned cats for decades and still have questions! Below are a few of the most often-asked questions first-time cat owners have. Don’t see yours here? Ask us in our comments.
What is the first thing you should do when you get a cat?
When first bringing a kitten or adult cat home, it is best to take them directly to the safe area or room you have pre-prepared for them. This room should be comfortable and have everything they need to stay comfortable for the first week or so. Once in the room, spend time getting to know your new fur baby. Have patience these first few days, as there will be highs and lows.
Are kittens or adult cats best for first-time cat owners?
It all depends on the situation and the specific animal. Generally speaking, adult cats require less time, do not need as much supervision, and are less demanding. Often, an older kitty will be calmer and settle into a new home faster than a kitten. However, some older cats do not take well to new homes, and there can be underlying behavior or health issues that make the adjustment tricky.
Can I leave my cat alone the first night?
Yes, your cat can be left alone in a room for the first night. Be sure to offer them plenty of places to sleep. Try a few different options, like a soft blanket, a comfortable bed, or even a cardboard box.
Are You Ready For A Cat Or Kitten?
Adopting a new kitten is an unforgettable experience and incredibly unique for first-time owners. While we believe all cats can make excellent pets if given the proper care, training, and attention, some breeds are better for first-timers than others. We have introduced you to some of them, but certainly not all.
There is a big misconception that cats are self-sufficient pets. They are independent but still need full-time care from owners. Bringing home a cat of any age or breed means committing to daily litter box changes, regular vet care, daily play sessions, cuddles, grooming, and more. Before bringing home a cat, spend some time with other cats, both adults and kittens, to get an idea of what life with a furry feline is like.