Your guide to choosing low-maintenance cats

The best cat breeds – and the easiest pets to look after – are the ones that suit your particular lifestyle. We’ve rated the UK’s favourite felines for their low-maintenance factor to help you find the perfect fit.

The best cat breeds – and the easiest pets to look after – are the ones that suit your particular lifestyle. We’ve rated the UK’s favourite felines for their low-maintenance factor to help you find the perfect fit.

Mubina Pirmohamed
Insurance expert
10
minute read
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Posted 20 APRIL 2022

What are the best low-maintenance cats 

Whether you take the pedigree cat route or prefer a non-pedigree moggy, you’re spoilt for choice. The UK’s cat population is broadly estimated at over 10 million – so unless you’re looking for a particularly rare breed, finding a low-maintenance feline needn’t be a challenge.

However, as well as its own unique character, what makes a cat genuinely low maintenance also depends on your own lifestyle and personality. Have you got the resources to care for it in the right way and give it the love it deserves?

There are some questions you need to ask yourself before taking a cat or kitten into your home. 

  • Will you be able to pay for cat insurance for your pet? If you don’t have it, you’ll need to pay vet bills from your own pocket.
  • Cats can live for up to 20 years, although the average lifespan is around 12 to 15 years. Are you happy to make that commitment?
  • Can you afford the cost of food and accessories, including cat baskets, toys and scratching posts?
  • Are you prepared to look after your cat’s general health and wellbeing, from grooming it to dishing out worming tablets and teaching it to use a litter tray
  • Have you cat-proofed your home – removing dangerous chemicals and trailing cables as well as potentially toxic plants from the garden, like chrysanthemums and daffodils?
  • What kind of home do you have?
    o Is it loud and boisterous or quiet and calm? 
    o Is there a regular routine or is it organised chaos? 
    o Are people always around or will your cat be on its own for long periods? 
    o Is there an outside area that’s safe for cats? 
    o Do you have very young children or other pets that will need to be supervised when a furry addition to the household is introduced?

Is a pedigree cat lower maintenance than a standard moggy? 

There are some beautiful – and laid-back – pedigree cats, but they’re more likely than your standard moggy to suffer from hereditary conditions. These can shorten their lifespan and may have an impact on the cost of vet fees and the premiums you end up paying for cat insurance.

If cost is a factor, a non-pedigree cat may be your best option. Pure-bred pedigrees can be more expensive to buy and may cost more to insure, too. You can find out how much pedigree cat insurance costs using our comparison tool.

However, when it comes to temperament, the lineage of a pedigree cat is likely to be more transparent – the traits of the breed, the characters of its mother and father, and the reputation of the breeder will be known quantities. If you’re buying a moggy, they’re a mixed bag, which means their individual personalities tend to be defined by nurture rather than nature. How you treat them makes all the difference.

What are the best cat breeds for making life easier? 

If you want to know where your kitten comes from, below are some of the most popular pedigree cat breeds in the UK, but not all of them are the easiest pets to look after. With that in mind, we’ve come up with a rating with each one.

Bengal cat 

Low-maintenance rating: 3/5

Descended from a cross between the wild Asian Leopard Cat and the domestic moggy, the Bengal is now a pedigree breed in its own right. With its short hair and distinctive spots, it looks like a miniature leopard – and it’s just as lithe and athletic. 

The Bengal is intelligent, loyal and affectionate, but it also needs a lot of attention and can be mischievous if it’s not kept occupied. It’s not the kind of cat to be left alone while you go to work – unless you get two – and it’s not a lap cat. The Bengal is probably happiest in a busy household with dogs, children and other cats to play with. For this reason, it’s also quite high maintenance and inexperienced cat owners may find it difficult to contain all that energy and train it to behave!

Siberian cat 

Low-maintenance rating: 4/5

Like the Bengal, this pussycat is active and playful and not averse to learning a few tricks or playing fetch. It’s also rather fascinated by water and loves to dig. 

Originating from Russia, the Siberian’s size and long, thick fur makes it look far from aerodynamic, but it’s hardy and athletic and makes a lively companion for other pets and children, as well as being loyal, patient and tolerant. Unlike the Bengal, it’s also content to be a lap-cat, particularly when that involves grooming too. Its generous coat needs brushing several times a week and it sheds seasonally in the spring and autumn.

British Shorthair cat 

Low-maintenance rating: 5/5

A relaxed cat that’s tolerant and intelligent, the British Shorthair is happy to be cuddled and its coat, which has more fur per square inch than any other breed, makes it the teddy bear of housecats and the ideal low-maintenance family pet. They’re also happy to rub shoulders with other animals, too. In fact, the extra stimulation is good for its agile mind. 

The British Shorthair can be prone to laziness – you might need to watch its weight! – but this also means that it’s not endlessly getting into trouble and won’t stray far from home.

Abyssinian 

Low-maintenance rating: 3/5

The Abyssinian is one of the most ancient cats, originating from the coastal regions of the Indian Ocean. Intelligent, curious and a quick learner, it can be a devoted companion, but it also likes to live life on its own terms. While happy to indulge you in a few lively games of fetch, it may equally disappear outside to enjoy its own company and the great outdoors. It’s this independence that can make it ideal for a busy owner, but it’s not a great ‘stay at home’ cat, unless you’re willing to provide plenty of toys, scratching posts and perches from which it can survey its domain. Sitting on laps is not its favourite pastime.

Sphynx 

Low-maintenance rating: 3/5

This strange fur- and whisker-free cat is actually covered in a peach-like down: it’s been described as a suede hot water bottle. A celebrity by association – Sphynx cats are the pet of choice for musicians Steven Tyler, Demi Lovato and Lady Gaga – it’s outgoing, sweet-tempered, and known for being one of the most sociable and intelligent cats in the world. This is also why it may not be the easiest pet to look after. It craves attention and hates being alone – and don’t be surprised if it cuddles up under the covers with you at night, too. Given its lack of fur, it dislikes the cold and is happiest when you’ve got the central heating on. It also needs regular baths to clean away the oils on its skin that would normally be absorbed by hair.

Maine Coon 

Low-maintenance rating: 3/5

With a bushy, brush-like tail like a racoon, this gentle giant of a pussycat prefers affection to being alone – so unless you get more than one, it may not be the cat for a busy professional. It’s playful and friendly, chirping cheerfully or sometimes yowling to make its presence felt, and it’s smarter than your average feline too. Given that males can weigh up to 20lbs, this a cat that needs its space. Access to a safe outdoor area where it can flex its muscles will ensure that it stays a happy cat – and if you want to put it to work, it’s also an expert rat catcher.

Ragdoll cat 

Low-maintenance rating: 4/5

One of the most laid-back cat breeds, the Ragdoll is so called because of a tendency to go limp when it’s picked up. It’s a beautiful animal with big blue eyes and a dense, silky coat that needs regular grooming to stop it getting matted. 

Gentle and sociable, Ragdolls are trusting by nature and make the perfect companion animal. They’re playful without the high energy of other varieties and are said to be particularly in tune with their owners on an emotional level. There’s a dangerous old wives’ tale that says the Ragdoll is immune to pain. Of course, that’s not the case – they need as much care as any cat, and they’ll repay you with puppy-like affection.

Siamese cat 

Low-maintenance rating: 3/5

Forget the sly Siamese felines of Disney’s The Aristocats, this extremely chatty cat is a loyal, outgoing extrovert who often verges on the noisy in its enthusiasm for joining in. It just loves to be included in family life and is very intelligent. The flip side of this is it needs to be kept amused or, like it’s cartoon counterpart, it can start being disruptive. It enjoys regular grooming more than needing it – anything you can do to make it feel like the centre of attention will be much appreciated! This means it’s very happy as a lap cat too.

Persian cat 

Low-maintenance rating: 3/5

Known as ‘furniture with fur’, the docile and intelligent pug-faced Persian is happy to sit and watch the world go by. A favourite of Marilyn Monroe, Persians love your attention but won’t badger you for it: an independent streak that makes it an appealing choice if your downtime is limited. That luxurious fur coat does need some TLC though – daily grooming, the occasional trim and even the odd bath to keep it pristine. Their large eyes should be wiped daily too.

Persians are quiet, contemplative cats – most of their communication seems to be through those expressive eyes – and they have a sweet nature that makes them a soothing presence. They prefer calm environments too, so although they like to play, a boisterous household probably wouldn’t be the best match.

Russian Blue 

Low-maintenance rating: 4/5

Smart and sensitive with bright green eyes, Russian Blues are also known as Archangel cats, named after the Russian port of Arkhangelsk, which is believed to be where they came from. It’s a fitting name given their silvery sheen. 

This cat is better than many at staying inside, provided you’re prepared to spend time keeping it amused, although some access to outdoor space works best for this friendly but independent animal. It may seem standoffish, but it’s actually just shy. It can take some time to warm to its human companions, but once it has, you can expect to have a loyal friend.

Frequently asked questions

Should I choose an adult cat or a kitten?

While a cute kitten can be irresistible, its personality is still unformed. And although the way you look after it will affect its temperament, it’s still an unknown quantity until it’s about a year old. Kittens also require a lot more time and attention than mature cats. A mature cat’s personality is already established and they tend to be less likely to wander away from home. Often, they simply want a comfy lap to call their own.

Should I get a cat if I work full time?

Known for being independent, a cat can be the ideal low-maintenance companion for a busy professional – but many cats need the stimulation of regular interaction and won’t be happy home alone for long periods of time. 

Even if your cat will tolerate you being at work all day, you do need to be prepared to spend time with it in the evening when you get home and at weekends. Having a full-time job and a hectic social life may leave your cat feeling lonely.

I want a low-maintenance indoor cat. Which is best?

Many cat owners keep their cat indoors, but if it stops the animal expressing its natural instincts and behaviour, this can end up with a very stressed or aggressive cat.

However, some cats are better suited to an indoor life than others, the chatty Siamese cat being one of them. You might also want to think about getting a Persian, Ragdoll, Russian Blue, British Shorthair or the hairless Sphynx, which doesn’t like being outside in the cold and may require sun protection in the heat.

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