Here is a list of the 10 friendliest cat breeds towards humans. You have to be careful when you make a statement like that. A lot of websites do make this statement but it is difficult to make it with true confidence. There is a lot of subjectivity in assessments of cat breed personalities, which is one reason. And to the best of my knowledge all the studies on cat breed personalities have been made using questionnaires presented to the cats’ owners. But a fairly recent study published in July 2021 from Finland looks as if it is pretty accurate because they spent a lot of effort on ensuring accuracy on my understanding of their write-up. And they refer to previous studies as well. Another issue is that each cat has their own personality. It is tricky to brand all cats of one breed with a uniform personality.
In the Finnish study, they used a large dataset of over 4,300 cats using an online questionnaire. They studied the questionnaire’s validity and reliability. They picked out seven personality types. Some of these types are actually behavioural types indicating a certain personality. The seven behaviour traits are: fearfulness, activity/playfulness, aggression towards humans, sociability towards humans, sociability towards cats, excessive grooming and litterbox issues. The last two are to do with timidity, stress and so on. I’m going to select out for this article the assessments concerning aggression towards humans and sociability towards humans. I’ll deal with the other issues in a separate post in order to keep the discussion and clear as possible.
Note: the breeds studied must have all been bred in European. These might be different to the American cats of the same breed. There is a difference between European and Russian bred cats and American bred cats.
The study presents three charts in relation to how friendly the various cat breeds are to humans. One concerns fearfulness which indirectly will affect a cat’s ability to be friendly towards a human. The other concerns aggression towards humans and the third addresses sociability towards humans which is a direct reflection of their potential for being friendly with people.
They decided that the most sociable cat breeds towards humans were the Siamese and Balinese (longhaired Siamese), Burmese, Oriental Shorthair, Siberian and the pointed Siberian (Neva Masquerade), Somali and Landrace cat longhair (I will take this to mean local random-bread longhaired cats i.e. Finish moggies).
The least sociable cat breeds were the Persian and Exotic Shorthair, European Shorthair, American Curl, British Shorthair, Birman, Ocicat and the Turkish Van. The Maine Coon also ranked rather poorly in terms of sociability towards humans.
Most aggressive towards humans
The cat breeds that were most aggressive towards humans they decided were the Turkish Van, random-bred cats, local longhaired non-pedigree cats, Maine Coons, Bengal and the Turkish Angora. Technically moggies are not breeds but they can be informally under certain circumstances.
Least aggressive towards humans
The least aggressive they said were the American Curl, Abyssinian, Somali and Oriental Shorthair, Ocicat and Ragdoll.
My selection of the friendliest towards humans using the three charts as guides.
You can make up your own minds. If you disagree, please tell me in a comment and if I agree I’ll change the list. You can see the charts at the base of this page which provide the full lists. From this information I have decided that the following are the 10 friendliest cat breeds. The information is somewhat disjointed but it will overlap.
The list is NOT necessarily ranked. My personal preference as the friendliest is highlighted but the result is finely balanced.
- Oriental Shorthair – mid-range for fearfulness, low aggression and good sociability.
- Burmese – low fearfulness, low aggression and high sociability.
- Ocicat – good for fearfulness (i.e. not fearful or confident), low aggression and good for sociability.
- Ragdoll – mid-range for fearfulness, mid-range for aggression and good for sociability.
- Siberian – good for sociability, low aggression and mid-range for fearfulness
- Cornish Rex – good for fearfulness, good for aggression (i.e. low aggression, mid-range for sociability.
- Siamese and Balinese – best for sociability, low aggression towards humans and not fearful.
- Sphynx – low fearfulness, lowish aggression and mid-range on sociability
- Devon Rex- as per the Sphynx
- Abyssinian and Somali (longhaired Abyssinian) – lowest fearfulness, low aggression and average sociability.
P.S. The Maine Coon (MC) is not featured as the study results do not support this breed as being better than the ones listed by me. This is a surprise as the MC is very popular but mainly on appearance. However, see below in my update where the MC comes in 7th.
The study charts
Study title and authors: Reliability and Validity of Seven Feline Behavior and Personality Traits by Salla Mikkola, Milla Salonen, Emma Hakanen, Sini Sulkama, Hannes Lohi.
Going the extra mile!
I am going to go the extra mile and update the page (Aug 18th, 2022) and see what other “experts” think about the friendliest cat breeds. In 2012, a study published on the Journal of Veterinary Behaviour, ranked the Sphynx cat breed as the most ‘genial’ use their language. Geniality equates to friendliness and therefore the Sphynx came out as the top breed for friendliness. In second place was the Ragdoll. This doesn’t surprise me because they are known to be laid-back. A laid-back personality also equates to a friendly personality or at least one that isn’t aggressive.
In this study, the Burmese comes third which squares up more or less with what I have said above. In fourth and fifth place come the Abyssinian and Somali. The Somali is a longhaired Abyssinian as you probably know. These cats are agile and intelligent and also high energy.
The Siamese comes in sixth under this study perhaps partly because they are said to be very sociable and loyal. The Maine Coon comes in seventh. When I think of the Maine Coon and their personality, I go to Gloria Stephens’ book on the cat breeds because she is a very experienced cat show judge and breeder and she also lives with Maine Coon cats. She should know a lot about them. And she tells us that they are relaxed and easy-going and “generally get along well with children and dogs as well as other cats. They are people orientated cats but they are not over dependent”.
And importantly she says that some Maine Coon cats “develop such a strong attachment to their female owners that they become recalcitrant when the female owner is away”. That sounds like a very friendly cat to the person that they particularly love. The results of this study overlap substantially with the Finnish study.
SOME MORE ON THE CAT BREEDS: