Which breed makes the best house cat?

“House cat” means a domestic cat so the question is asking what’s the best domestic cat out of the cat breeds (purebred cats). These are selectively bred over many decades. They have a polished appearance distinct from each other breed.

Of course, in asking which breed makes the best house cat, the question is eliminating from the pool the vast majority of cats namely random bread cats and they make house cats which are just as good as the purebred variety.

Ben Ragdoll cat
Beautiful Raggie.
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Ragdoll - most affectionate cat breed
Photos copyright Helmi Flick

The best house cats are going to be the most popular cat breeds. However, before I list the most popular cat breeds an obvious point needs to be made which is that each individual person has their own preferences and these will override the most popular breeds in a general sense.

Perhaps the best arbiter of the popularity of cat breeds is the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA). For 2020 they list the most popular cat breeds in descending order of popularity as follows:

  1. Ragdoll
  2. Exotic Shorthair
  3. British Shorthair
  4. Persian
  5. Maine Coon
  6. Devon Rex
  7. American Shorthair
  8. Abyssinian
  9. Sphynx
  10. Scottish Fold

The top cat breed is the Ragdoll. This doesn’t surprise me in the modern era when more people are considering keeping their cat companions indoors full-time because of concerns about the environment including predation by domestic cats on wildlife together with hazards outside the home. Perhaps of all the cat breeds, the Ragdoll has the best personality for full-time indoor living together with the Persian. The Exotic Shorthair has the same temperament as the Persian but with shorter hair. Between the Exotic Shorthair and the Persian I would choose the former because they are easier to maintain.

Exotic Shorthair cat facts for kids
Exotic Shorthair cat facts for kids. Photos are copyright Helmi Flick

I’ll expand a little bit on the top three in the list above using the knowledge of Gloria Stephens, a former speciality judge for the American Cat Fancier’s Association in 1971 and at one time (and perhaps continuing) and all-breed judge for the American Cat Association.

British Shorthair
British Shorthair . Collage: PoC. Photos: Helmi Flick.

The extra detail is mainly about character rather than appearance because appearance is in the eye and the holder but the character of a house cat is very important with respect to their effectiveness as a companion to the homeowner.


Ragdolls are described as, “calm, docile, quiet cats”. They are easy to handle, friendly, affectionate and intelligent. They love human company. Clearly a great CV for a house cat.

Exotic Shorthair

When you describe the personality of this cat breed you are also describing the personality of the Persian and the Himalayan (pointed Persian). Gloria says that Persians are “for the most part, laid-back cats”. They are happy when lounging and being decorative and playful but never demanding. They’re said to have sweet, gentle personalities which “fit into most households, provided they feel secure in their environment”. Once again an excellent CV but make sure the home is calm and settled. The inherited health of the Persian is suspect which may go against the Exotic SH.

British Shorthair

Once again, Gloria Stephens makes it clear in her words that this cat breed is very well suited to being a house cat. For example, she states that they are, “independent yet affectionate, relaxed yet curious. The male, in particular, is especially friendly to people, even to the point of being mushy. This is an extremely quiet, no-nonsense, unflappable breed of cat”. Don’t plump for extreme bred examples of this cat.

There’s not much between the top three. It’s mainly a matter of personal preference. I would probably go for the Ragdoll nowadays because not only is their personality ideal as a house cat they are the most beautiful cat and certainly the most beautiful cat breed amongst the top 10 listed but taste is in the eye of the beholder. Also they don’t have the same degree of health issues suffered by the Persian cat family.

P.S. You can read about all these breeds in full detail on this website. Simply use the search facility or use the navigation bar at the top of the page and go to “cat breeds” which is divided into three pages.

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