Reviewed for accuracy on May 7, 2019, by Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM
The International Cat Association (TICA), a worldwide genetic registry of pedigreed cats, currently recognizes 71 different cat breeds. The majority of these breeds display what we see as traditional feline behaviors and characteristics; they climb up cat trees, go crazy for catnip, love clawing at cat scratchers.
And if you ask a dog person, they might say that cats are more than happy to let their people do the heavy emotional lifting in their relationships.
Cheryl Hogan, a TICA judge with over 30 years of experience, explains that despite what many dog people may think, there are cat breeds that act just like dogs.
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While this hairless cat breed has a very unique look, the Sphynx cat has a warm, affectionate personality that dog lovers will surely appreciate. “This breed strongly desires to be with you,” says Hogan. “They love greeting you or your company at the door.”
Sphynx cats are known to be goofballs, and they’ll try a variety of silly antics in order to get the attention of their people. This doglike cat breed does well around strangers and is a loyal and loving companion that even the most fervent dog person is sure to warm up to.
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If you’re looking for a cat that can master tricks as well as any dog breed, Hogan says that the Pixiebob is the right choice for you. “Active and very social, they are described by their owners as ‘doglike’ in their devotion. They form strong bonds with their family,” she says. “They can be taught to play fetch and easily walk on a harness and leash.”
Pixiebobs are generally good with children and—like dogs—they enjoy vocalizing with their family members. “They are true companions and even like to communicate verbally with a wide range of chirps, chitters and purrs,” says Hogan.
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Many dog breeds are highly active and full of energy. The Abyssinian is an athletic cat breed that will keep pet parents on their toes. “Being high-energy and entertained by anything that moves, they love to run, jump, roll and play,” says Hogan. “They will find a way to involve you in their activities.”
In addition to being playful and spunky, Abyssinians are highly intelligent. Keep them active and entertained with cat puzzle toys or a cat window perch that allows them to watch birds.
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If you’re looking for a loyal companion that won’t leave your side, the Scottish Fold is a doglike cat breed that might make the perfect fit. “If they sleep, it is near you. If they play, it is near you,” says Hogan. “They love their people—young or old—with all their heart. They truly become one of the family.”
Scottish Folds are moderately active and enjoy entertaining themselves with cat treats and cat toys. Because this cat breed enjoys a large amount of human interaction, the Scottish Fold is not a great choice for a family that will be gone for long periods during the day.
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“The energetic and elegant Cornish Rex bounces through life and into your heart with undaunted enthusiasm,” says Hogan. “Smart, social cats, they know their place—right in the middle of everything!”
In addition to zipping around the house, Cornish Rex cats like to learn and are quick to pick up on cues and tricks. Just make sure to channel all of their energy into appropriate behaviors with cat scratching posts and plenty of cat toys.
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If you think dogs are the only ones that appreciate excitement—think again. The Japanese Bobtail is a curious cat that loves to traverse new terrain. “They are always busy,” says Hogan. “When not playing with the family, they love to explore and are always ready for the next adventure with you.”
Japanese Bobtails are also very vocal cats who are often described as “singing cats” because their meowing tends to have a distinct songlike quality.
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Ragdoll cats are excellent family pets, and they are extremely tolerant around children. They like to be cradled and carried around and are sometimes referred to as “puppy cats.” But, it’s not just their docile nature that garners comparisons to affectionate lap-dog breeds.
According to Hogan, these cats love to play and can even be taught to play fetch.
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Most dog owners can attest that their dogs have an innate way of reading human emotions, and Hogan says that Birmans are one doglike cat breed that really gets their human family members.
“If you need a hug, they are there for you. If you need to be left alone, you won’t see them,” she explains. “Feel like playing? They are ready for that too. They are totally devoted to their family.”
Of course, individual variation can sometimes overwhelm breed characteristics, and many feline “mutts” have similar traits to these purebreds. Whenever possible, get to know a prospective feline family member in person before committing to a lifelong relationship.
By: Deidre Grieves
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