Anyone who has owned cats can tell you that they are independent, funny, fierce, and loving, sometimes all at once. Hunting is the strong suit of some breeds while cuddling and playing may suit others. Each cat has its own personality and shows it in different ways but if you are looking for certain traits or characteristics, you might be interested in doing some research about popular breeds to get an idea of their dispositions before you let one adopt you.
The Cat Fanciers’ Association recognizes 45 pedigreed breeds as well as non-pedigreed companion cats. Let’s look at some common characteristics of 12 of the most popular cat breeds.
Domestic Long and Shorthair
Not surprisingly, about 95 percent of all cats in Canada and the United States are domestic long or shorthair cats. Domestic shorthaired cats are the closest to the “wild type” and, regardless of the length of their coat, they aren’t a custom breed. In the United Kingdom, they are lovingly called: “moggies”.
Domestic cats can be suited for all kinds of families because they are loving and playful and have even temperaments. Relaxed and easy to please, domestic cats make good cats for new cat parents. And, best of all, every domestic cat you adopt saves a life.
Graceful and intelligent, Ragdolls are mild-mannered and sweet. Their large, striking blue eyes are discerning as well as affectionate. Growing to anywhere between 6-9 kg (15-20 lbs), it takes these long-haired beauties about three years to reach full maturity. They can be trained and many are very good with children, making a Ragdoll cat an excellent family member.
Related to Persians, Exotic Shorthair cats also have sweet faces and rounded features. The two breeds also share gentleness of temperament and are loyal and easy-going. They carry their 10-12-pound frames on short stocky legs, but don’t worry, they can chase those red laser dots with the best of them. These playful fur babies make excellent companions and will follow you from room to room, waiting for a chance to hop in your lap as soon as you sit down.
The gentle giants of the cat world, Maine Coons are magnificent when they reach their tallest height of 16 inches, length of up to 100 cm (40 in) and weigh in at 3.6-8.2 kg (7-18 lbs) or more. They have lovely tufts of fur in their ears and under their paws, a square face and a big fluffy tail. They are friendly, inquisitive, and very hardy, meaning that they can live in a variety of climates and require less care and attention than other breeds. That’s not to say a Maine Coon won’t want attention. They love to be admired as much as the next fur baby. They are curious and fascinated by water.
Big round eyes inside a round face give Persians their unmistakable look. Add in the flat face and the distinctive profile, or smushed nose, and you know you’ve found a gorgeous, soft, sweet-tempered Persian cat. Affectionate toward their owners, children, and other pets, Persians are generally not very active, preferring a quiet environment. Averaging between 3-6 kg (7-12 lbs) as adults, they are on the smaller side but will provide lots of cuddling and companionship during rest periods. Because of their semi-dense coats, they overheat easily and can require professional grooming to prevent matted fur.
British and American Shorthair
Perfect for people who like balanced ordered lives, British and American Shorthair cats are never “too this” or “too that.” They aren’t too big or too small, too playful or too docile, or too demanding or too standoffish. Those of British stock aren’t as active as some of the other breeds but are a bit bigger (4-8 kg [9-18 lbs]) with their American cousins weighing a little less. These Shorthairs are often described as having teddy bear features, round faces with big eyes. They are not clingy, but they do know when to give their owners some love. They are friendly toward their owners and children without wanting to be picked up or cuddled. Like other shorthaired cats, they require less grooming and shed less.
Long and slender, Siamese may have an elongated, wedged-shaped face or a rounder, apple-shaped one. Their ears, noses, paws, and tails come in complementary colours that offset their cream-coloured bodies. With their short hair, they don’t require the combing and care that a longhaired cat needs. They are playful and energetic and weigh between 3.5-5.5 kg (7-12 lbs). Very vocal, they will keep you engaged in conversation.
If you are looking for a cat that looks like a fuzzy pixie, this is your breed. Devon Rex cats have oversized ears and bright piercing eyes. They are just as playful and mischievous as other breeds but they excel in the affection department. They are curious and happy to assist their owners at every opportunity. Their short coats are unique as well. A mutation that occurs only in Devon Rex cats causes the waviness and differences in texture but with less shedding and fewer grooming requirements. They grow to be about 2.3-4.5 kg (5-10 lbs).
This beautiful cat is known for its muscular body covered with a distinctly ticked coat. They are a medium sized cat, weighing between 2.7-4.5 kg (6-10 lbs) as adults. Not known as cuddlers, Abyssinian cats are very active. They love to explore and discover what treasures are hidden inside your cabinets. Additionally, they are extremely social. Since they are very active cats, they may not be a good choice for older owners or families that are away much of the time.
You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to know that the Scottish Fold cat is named for its distinctive folded ears and hails from Scotland. Their hearing is just as acute as any cat and their ears can change directions, lay back flat, and stand straight up. As adults, they are compact and weigh about 3.5-5.5 kg (8-12 lbs). Gentle, mild mannered, and intelligent, Scottish Fold cats adapt well to new owners and residences. They are good family cats but they tend to single out one favourite person among their owners. They will require more grooming because of their dense coats and may retain more ear wax but generally aren’t more prone to ear mites or infections than their prick-eared cousins.
A unique breed with unique needs, Sphynx cats are also known as hairless cats. Petting a Sphynx is like stroking a suede hot water bottle. Playful, loving, loyal, and receptive to children and other pets, these small (2.7-5.5 kg [6-12 lbs]) cats will allow you to hold them. They have extra loose skin making for some very endearing wrinkles. Because they don’t have true fur to absorb natural oils, they can develop an oily film on their skin and waxy ears. They may need weekly bathing as well as regular gentle ear cleaning and nail care.
Bengal cats have become very popular because they look like miniature (3.6-7 kg [8-15 lb]) leopards. Like Abyssinians, they are extremely curious and inquisitive. Without a lot of attention and things to do to stay busy, they can become bored or frustrated which might lead to undesirable behaviours. This is a breed of cat that loves water and may decide to go fishing in your aquarium. While gorgeous, they are definitely not suited to every home.
While these descriptions can give you a mini portrait of each breed, it’s important to note that every cat is unique and may not fit into any stereotypical mold. You will learn the most about a cat just by spending time with it. Like with humans, you’ll know when you’ve made a connection to your new best friend.