5 Best Cats for Children with Autism: Great Breeds for Kids

Discover the benefits of these cats for kids with ASD.

Jane Pardo
Updated February 22, 2023

Independent and aloof, cats are generally considered less affectionate animals than canine companions.

But their personality may just be what kids on the autism spectrum need for calm companionship.

Some cats are gentle in nature and make wonderful furry buddies for autistic kids. They require less attention and are easier to raise and care for than other pets.

The best cats for children with autism include the Siberian, Maine Coon, and Ragdoll. These pets are affectionate, intelligent, and great with kids.

Why cats are great for children with autism

Cats with a docile temperament can have a calming effect on kids with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).

Children with autism usually feel overwhelmed when there are sudden changes around them. The findings showed that having a cat helped them feel less anxious and led to an overall positive effect on the families.

Ideal qualities of autism support cats

Not all cats are suitable for children with ASD.

Consider the following traits when choosing the right feline companion for your loved one:

  • Laidback temperament: You want a calm and relaxed cat for your autistic child. The best emotional support cat provides loving companionship without biting and scratching tendencies.
  • Friendly and sociable: The ideal cat for your autistic child responds positively to the presence of family members, strangers, and other pets.
  • Patient with children: Some feline breeds have loving and gentle personalities. They are likely to tolerate the odd behaviors of kids on the autism spectrum.

Best cat breeds for autistic children

Here are some of the top cat breeds for children with ASD.

1. Siberian

Siberian cat

Siberians are outgoing and energetic cats with delightful personalities. These stunning felines are a Russian national treasure.

They love spending time with people and other animals, making them excellent companions for children with ASD.

Breed information

Weight: 10 to 20 pounds
Eye color: Varied
Coat: Moderately long or longhaired, triple coat; soft or coarse
Less allergenic: Yes
Shedding tendency: Moderate
Grooming needs: Low
Life expectancy: 10 to 18 years


  • Calm, intelligent, and easygoing: Siberians are great with kids and don’t demand too much attention.
  • Emotionally sensitive: They sense the need for emotional support and show affection to help ease stress.
  • Sociable: They easily warm up to strangers and welcome the presence of other pets.
  • Great with kids and strangers
  • Enjoy playtime: They like mentally and physically stimulating games, including playing fetch.
  • Enjoy playtime: They like mentally and physically stimulating games, including playing fetch.
  • Less allergenic: No cat is truly hypoallergenic. All cats create the FelD1 protein responsible for allergic reactions. However, Siberians produce less of this protein in their saliva, which could mean milder allergic reactions.


  • Require thorough brushing twice a week or more 
  • Periods of heavy shedding during spring and fall require daily brushing and combing
  • Prone to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a hereditary health disease

2. Maine Coon

Maine Coon kittens
Maine Coon kittens

Maine Coons are playful, loving, and sweet-tempered. They are the only longhair breed native to the US and one of the biggest domestic cat breeds.

These fluffy, gentle giants have an upbeat attitude and a kind disposition that fit children on the autism spectrum. 

Breed information

Weight: 10 to 25 pounds
Eye color: Odd-eyed, gold, green, copper
Coat: Straight, long, silky coat
Less allergenic: No
Shedding tendency: Moderate
Grooming needs: High
Life expectancy: 9 to 13 years


  • Highly affectionate and loyal: Maine Coons love to snuggle and spend time with people.
  • Sociable and fun playmates: These gentle felines are great with kids and other animals. With their hardy size, they are unafraid of being handled by kids.
  • Very tolerant and non-aggressive: They are patient and not prone to biting when provoked, making them amiable companions for children with ASD.
  • Highly intelligent: Maine Coons are easy to train with a “dog-like” desire to learn.
  • Enjoy exploring outdoors: They love going on walks even while wearing a leash.
  • Highly adaptable: These gentle giants are excellent for living in the city, countryside, or suburbs (but not tiny spaces like small apartments).


  • More expensive to raise, as they need sturdier toys, extra-large cat towers, and more food portions than average cats
  • Heavy, silky coats must be regularly brushed for hours twice a week or more to prevent tangles
  • Prone to obesity, so lots of physical activity is necessary
  • Might scratch furniture when bored

3. Ragdoll

ragdoll cat

Ragdolls are gentle and sweet cats with captivating blue eyes.

These large, long-bodied felines tend to flop over when picked up, hence earning their name. This peculiar mannerism indicates their laid-back disposition.

Breed information

Weight: 10 to 20 pounds
Eye color: Blue
Coat: Long and silky
Less allergenic: No
Shedding tendency: High
Grooming needs: Moderate
Life expectancy: 7 to 12 years


  • Enjoy petting, playtime, and sleeping next to their owners: Ragdolls are patient with kids, making them great for autistic children who love to cuddle and play.
  • Loyal, affectionate, and easygoing: These charming felines like to show affection and don’t demand too much attention.
  • Intelligent and submissive: Ragdolls are trainable through positive reinforcement.
  • Sociable: They get along well with other pets.
  • Non-destructive: They don’t exhibit destructive behaviors even when left alone for hours.


  • Too friendly with strangers with low fighting instincts, so they must not be allowed to roam freely outside
  • Prone to obesity
  • Susceptible to certain genetic diseases, such as polycystic kidney disease 
  • Can be randomly vocal
  • Require grooming twice a week or more to prevent tangled or matted coats

4. Birman

Birman cat

Known as the “Sacred Cat of Burma,” the Birman breed boasts stunning sapphire-blue eyes and symmetrical white paws that look like gloves.

Birmans have a docile, friendly nature, making them one of the best cats for children with autism.

Breed information

Weight: 7 to 14 pounds
Eye color: Blue
Coat: Long, silky coat
Less allergenic: No
Shedding tendency: Moderate
Grooming needs: Moderate
Life expectancy: 9 to 16 years


  • Amiable and social: Birmans are friendly cats that get along well with nearly everyone, including strangers, dogs, and other pets. 
  • Patient, tolerant, and playful: These sweet cats are gentle playmates for kids with autism. They are intelligent and curious felines that like to know what their favorite humans are doing.
  • Not noisy: They have low vocalization tendencies.
  • Very loyal: A Birman cat will love your autistic child wholeheartedly upon forming a bond.
  • Weekly brushing is enough: They have a single-layered, silky coat that doesn’t mat easily.


  • Can be jealous when there’s a lack of attention
  • Don’t like being alone: These sociable cats need the company of people or other pets.
  • Prone to be obesity

5. American Shorthair

American Shorthair cat

Descending from European breeds, American shorthairs were first brought to the US in the early 1600s. They were bred for pest control and developed an exceptional ability to hunt mice and rats.

American shorthairs today are amazingly sweet and easygoing. They are friendly, sociable cats that can thrive in families with autistic children.

Breed information

Weight: 8 to 12 pounds
Eye color: Green, copper, blue, hazel, gold, odd-eyed
Coat: Short, straight, dense
Less allergenic: No
Shedding tendency: Moderate
Grooming needs: Moderate
Life expectancy: 15 to 20 years


  • Loving, patient, and tolerant: American shorthairs love to spend time with their family. They remain calm and affectionate even when carried and cuddled by children.
  • Quiet and undemanding: These gentle cats like human attention but don’t have the constant need for it.
  • Highly adaptable: American shorthairs are comfortable living anywhere, including apartments.
  • Playful, social, and easy to train
  • Relatively healthy: American shorthairs originated from working cats and evolved into robust, healthy felines. They have minimal breed-specific health problems and can live up to 20 years.


  • High prey drive: American shorthairs need lots of stimulating activities that help them express their predatory instincts, like playing with prey-like toys and puzzle feeders.
  • Can be destructive without engaging playtime: These intelligent felines may turn household items into makeshift toys if there are no cat toys around.
  • Prone to weight gain


What should I consider when choosing a cat breed for my autistic child?

Consider the personality, desires, and sensitivities of your autistic loved one when choosing the best pet companion for them. Additionally, consider a cat breed’s temperament and common problems associated with the breed. Weigh the pros and cons to determine the best choice for your child.

What should I know if I want to adopt a cat from a local animal shelter?

Ask about a cat’s medical and behavioral history before adopting one from a shelter. You should also research the shelter’s cleanliness and general care practices. Ask a veterinarian or pet adoption counselor about how to choose a cat and introduce it to your household.

How do I ensure my child isn’t allergic to the cat I’m getting?

Allow your child to spend time with the cat before taking it home to discover any allergic response.

Final thoughts

Like dogs, cats provide nonjudgmental companionship. Developing a strong bond with a calm feline may help your autistic child feel relaxed and more confident to socialize.

When you raise a gentle, affectionate, and well-loved cat, your autistic child will have a wonderful best friend that can make their world a little bit better.

Besides cats, we also recommend a few other animals for autistic kids. Check out our best pets for a child with autism.

Written by Jane Pardo

Jane Pardo

Jane Pardo is a senior contributing writer who lends insight into topics regarding pets for autistic children.