Humans need physical and social contact; it is literally written into our DNA. When we touch (e.g. cuddle, hug or hold hands) our bodies release “happy” hormones such as oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin. These hormones are responsible for our feelings of happiness and relaxation. They can also help improve mood and lower levels of stress and anxiety.
Therefore, cuddling your pet can improve your physical and mental well-being – but we kind of knew that already! It is also backed up by science and has been the topic of numerous research studies.
Cats are generally not considered to be as social as dogs or humans, however that does not mean that all domestic cats prefer a solitary lifestyle. Below is a list of cat breeds that break this stereotype and love a good cuddle!
10 ‘cuddly’ cat breeds
There are a few cat breeds that are considered more affectionate than others…
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The Abyssinian cat goes by a few different names including the “Aby”, the “Bunny cat” (due to its fur being like that of a hare’s) and the “Aby-silly-an” (due to its highly active and inquisitive nature). They are thought to be one of the oldest domestic cat breeds and are one of the top 5 most popular cat breeds worldwide.
Abys are described as “intelligent”, “loyal” and “curious”. They are not a traditional lap-cat due to their energetic personality, however they are very people-oriented which makes them amazing companions, you will never feel alone with an Abyssinian in the house!
Siamese, Burmese and Tonkinese
The Siamese cat is another ancient breed and considered the most popular breed in the world. They are well known for creating a strong bond with their owners. Siamese are “loving”, “bold” and “talkative” and you will know when they want attention!
The Burmese cat is a descendant of the Siamese. They are classed as “cuddly”, “confident” and “sociable”. If you are looking for a lively, playful cat who would enjoy living with a family, then the Burmese is the cat for you!
The Tonkinese cat is a cross between a Siamese and a Burmese. Tonk owners believe that their cats possess the best characteristics from both breeds resulting in a cat with a big personality!
Birman cats are undeniably beautiful and have a temperament to match! They are “gentle” and “loving” and, due to their sweet nature, they make excellent companions for families with children and/or other pets.
As their name suggests, Maine Coon cats originate from Maine in the US. They are referred to as ‘gentle giants’ and although their size can be intimidating, they are known for their friendliness towards everyone! They are “smart”, “loyal” and “tactile” without being too clingy.
The Persian is the most popular breed of cat in the US, and a top 10 most popular breed in the UK. Persians are the quintessential lap-cat. They are laid-back so may not demand your undivided attention, but will welcome affection gladly.
Ragdoll cats are similar to the Maine Coon in personality and stature although not quite as big. They are “docile”, “sweet”, and happy to accept cuddles from anyone!
Sphynx cats are a bit like marmite, some people adore them, while others are less fond. The most distinctive feature of this breed is that they are hairless! Sphynx cats hate to be alone, and they are perhaps the most affectionate breed in this list. However, they can be ‘needy’, and not ideal if you like your personal space!
A cat’s breed is not the only indicator of ‘cuddliness’, however. Cats (and dogs) are individuals, and some are simply more outwardly affectionate than others, including the wonderful Heinz 57, stray rescue moggy.
However, temperament should not be the only feature you consider when choosing a cat to join your family.
Choosing the right feline friend
Firstly, what is your budget? You could consider adopting a cat or kitten from a local charity, free or for a small donation, whereas if you would prefer a cat from the list above you could be spending thousands. Whether you choose to shop or adopt you will also need to consider the day-to-day costs of owning a cat. It is estimated that the cost of caring for a cat over its lifetime could be at least £12,000! (PDSA, 2021).
Pedigree cats can also be prone to hereditary health problems. For example, breathing difficulties, kidney disease and eye problems in Persian cats (RVC, 2019) and severe bone and cartilage abnormalities in Scottish Fold cats (iCat Care, 2018). So, this may influence your decision too.
Cats in general do not require as much exercise as dogs, which is why they are popular with people with decreased mobility, a busy lifestyle or limited living space. However, our ‘cuddly cats’ will not do well being left alone for long periods of time. This could have a detrimental effect on their physical and mental well-being and lead to problem such as obesity, anxiety, boredom and destructive behaviours. Take home message – do your research! Temperament may be high on your list of priorities, but you should also take into account the other physical and behavioural characteristics of the breed as well as evaluating your own personal circumstances when choosing your new feline friend. And always make sure you have a good local registered vet to help you out if things go wrong!