By Dr. Becker
If you want a playful pet – one that likes to play fetch, chew on toys, or go for a swim – you might think your first choice should be a dog. But, unbeknownst to many (especially non-cat owners), cats can be incredibly playful too.
There are certainly cat breeds that prefer a cuddle in your lap or a snooze on the couch to a play session with a feather toy… but many kitties are active and demand regular playtime from their humans. Vet Street recently compiled a list of 11 such breeds that tend to be fun loving, energetic and playful.
1. Japanese Bobtail
The Japanese bobtail is outgoing and active. Most enjoy carrying around toys, playing fetch, and splashing their paws in water. She may also like to perch on your shoulder. According to the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA):1
“When your front doorbell rings, they will go with you to greet your guests. If you want a cat that will interact with you and your family, then the Japanese Bobtail is the breed for you! They like to carry things in their mouths, and most enjoy a good game of fetch or soccer.
Masters of the pounce, these cats love to play tag with their cat friends… They are naturals at Feline Agility. They love to jump hurdles and leap through hoops and are speedy and proficient at this sport. They have been known to run the course in less than 10 seconds!”
Abyssinians are active cats that love to be on the move. Because of their high energy level and intelligence, you’ll need to occupy your Abyssinian with food puzzles, daily exercise, and even training for tricks and agility.
3. Devon Rex
The Devon Rex is a playful cat breed often described as forever a “kitten at heart.” They’re also known for being a cat with dog-like qualities and a mischievous personality. CFA notes:2
“The Devon Rex, the Pixie of the Cat Fancy, sports oversized ears on an elfin face with large impish eyes. This adorable combination only hints at the mad-cap personality within – a cross, some say, between a cat, a dog, a monkey, and Dennis the Menace.
They are a fun and fun-loving breed with a relaxed and social attitude rarely associated with cats. Delightfully silly in both appearance and antics, Devons are interested in everything and everyone around them. Their playful nature means Devons easily learn tricks and are always up for a game of hide-and-seek, tag, or fetch.”
This breed is known to be sociable, both with people and other animals. Birmans love to be with people, including playing fetch and games with their owners. Birmans can also appreciate a good cuddle session, however, so if you’re looking for a playful companion who’s not overly active, a Birman may be for you.
Manx are most well known for their lack of a tail, but they’re also gentle and fun-loving animals. Many enjoy playing fetch and carrying their toys around. These cats are intelligent and agile.
They have powerful hindquarters that allow them to leap onto high surfaces, accelerate rapidly, and make quick turns. They’re known to use their paws to open cabinets and doors. According to CFA:3
“The Manx is often said to be ‘dog-like’ both in their loyalty to their families and their love of interactive play. They have a great sense of humor and are not above playing practical jokes on their families.
They get along wonderfully with children and other family pets and have been known to protect their families from real or supposed danger… A house with a Manx will never be boring!”
A spontaneous natural mutation left the Munchkin with short legs on an otherwise “average” cat body. But despite its short legs, or perhaps because of them, the Munchkin is capable of moving at high speeds and zooming around corners with surprising agility. They enjoy playing and may even hide objects (especially shiny objects) to play with later.
Siamese cats love attention and activity, and they’re highly intelligent. If you leave a Siamese cat alone for too long without something to occupy herself, she may become mischievous, opening cabinets, finding new hiding spots, and even turning on sink faucets. Puzzle toys, clicker training, and agility training may help keep your playful Siamese happy.
Bengal cats love to be with their owners. They’ll follow you around the house and “help” you with whatever activity is at hand. Bengals often enjoy playing fetch, playing in water, and even walking on leashes.
Some may call Bengals demanding, but as long as you keep her entertained with ample places to climb, scratching surfaces, and interactive toys, she’ll be happy.
Burmese cats are athletic and acrobatic and may be able to leap to the highest spot in the room with amazing ability. CFA explains:4
“They have great affection for their people, wanting to be with them as much as possible without being overly demanding. Many Burmese will even play fetch with a toy, given the chance… Burmese kittens can be quite spirited.
They are playful and fearless, attempting feats beyond their means and landing on their sturdy little rear ends. A Burmese kitten will remain playful well into adulthood.”
Siberian kitties love to climb and leap, and will go to great lengths (think acrobatics and somersaults) to catch a feather toy or laser pointer. A kitten may find it has landed itself into a precarious spot (like the top of a bookshelf) and may need your help to get down, but you can expect your Siberian to stay playful into adulthood.
11. Turkish Van
The Turkish Van is nicknamed “the swimming cat” for its love of water. It even has a cashmere-like texture to its coat that makes it water-resistant.5 A Turkish Van will join you in the swimming pool or bathtub, and enjoys chasing and jumping after toys when on dry land.
Where to Find Your Family’s Playful New Kitty
According to the Humane Society of the United States, around 2.7 million adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized each year in the US simply because they’re unable to find good homes.6
If you’re looking for an especially playful, athletic, and agile kitty, the volunteers at your local shelter will be able to fill you in (to some extent) on each cat’s personality and quirks. You’ll find cats that love to climb, play fetch, and even learn tricks, and the adoption fee will be significantly lower than you’d pay for a cat from a breeder.
If you have your heart set on a specific breed, please consider a rescue organization. There are rescue organizations for virtually every cat breed you can imagine, and some have systems in place to match and rehome pets even with owners who live across the country.