Dog people consider cats
October 7, 2011 8:13 AM   Subscribe

Are there cats out there for dog people?

My father's cat Lucy is very vocal and affectionate. She will rough-house until she gets bored and she does a silly thing where she snuggles with and nuzzles shoes. She loves rubbing her face on things and she really likes attention. If you just look at her, she rolls over on her back and starts purring. She's very sweet and seems pretty happy to just sit in your lap, especially if you're petting her.

My husband and I are not cat people but we love Lucy. Are there cats out there like Lucy who are affectionate, vocal, and attentive? She runs to see my father when he comes home from work. She doesn't mind being picked up and is generally very chill but she still does silly cat things like sit in the sink and stick her head in glasses of water.

If there were such cats out there, how would one go about finding them? It seems hard to test in a short time or a contrived environment like a pet store or animal shelter whether it's a nice cat. Lucy came from a pet store but it was the animal adoption section.
posted by kat518 to Pets & Animals (65 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Burmesee, done deal. $$$ but wonderful.
posted by Freedomboy at 8:16 AM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

My cat's super affectionate, loves to play, plays fetch, sits on command ( I was bored and he learns fast). My friends found him three years ago and were looking for a home for him. He was a six month old kitten. I went over to their house, played with him, and made sure I could pet him everywhere and pick him up and that he didn't mind, because I never wanted a cat where I'd have to say, "Careful, don't touch the white part of his tail/always keep both feet on the floor/don't wear plaid or hats near him" kind of stuff. Also, my friends had a dog, and while we were doing my meet and greet, my cat looked at the dog crossly, and punched him in the shoulder as he walked by. Just hauled off and punched a dog three times his size. The dog didn't even register it. That's when I fell in love with the little guy!
posted by sweetkid at 8:22 AM on October 7, 2011 [8 favorites]

Absolutely. I'm not sure how to guide you in finding them, since personalities differ wildly, but they're out there. We've got a cat who comes when you call, rushes to the door to greet you when you come in, and crawls into your lap to cuddle whenever he sees an opportunity. (Putting his paws on your chest and gazing soulfully into your eyes is another good trick.) We've always regarded him as a dog in a cat's skin.

Momo also does the shoe-hugging thing -- not uncommon to find him sitting on the floor with a recently-worn slipper firmly clutched between his paws.

He's an orange domestic shorthair, but I suspect the traits may occur in any breed.

It's interesting that you see that behavior in Lucy, since my understanding has always been that female cats tend more to standoffish personalities, and males are friendlier. Not my area of expertise, though, since I was raised with dogs and never expected to encounter a cat with those traits until he wound up in our laps. (He belonged to a family member who was moving out of the US, and planned to put him up for adoption if we didn't want him. That wouldn't do.)

This seems to have turned into a "isn't my cat great?" post rather than useful advice on how to find such a cat, but there's no shortage of them.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 8:25 AM on October 7, 2011

I think sometimes dog people have the misconception that cats are generally standoffish animals, and they aren't at all. I've had a lot of cats in my life and I would describe all of them as affectionate and attentive, while some were more vocal than others. All of my cats, though, have done the running-to-the-door thing to greet me when I get home, and all of them have slept with us in bed and demanded affection at one time or another. The only possible exception to this is the Siamese we had when I was a child; I don't have clear memories of her but my general feeling is that she wasn't a very friendly cat. All of my subsequent cats have been shelter mutts of no particular breed.

You can absolutely get a general idea of a cat's basic personality in not very much time. We adopted our two current babies from a shelter here in town that has open rooms full of cats and allows you to spend as much time with them as you want. Even though they were kittens (about 3 months old) when we adopted them, they had distinctive personality traits that were obvious in that first hour at the shelter and are still consistent a year and a half later. This surprised me, honestly; I didn't expect that there was much point in picking a cat based on an hour-long personality evaluation, but my husband insisted on the especially cuddly little guy that has continued to be especially cuddly, and I insisted on the self-absorbed weirdo who is still a self-absorbed weirdo as an adult.

If you have an animal shelter in your area that will let you spend some time, I'd just go and check out the cats for a while. Their personalities really are very distinct and pretty obvious.
posted by something something at 8:25 AM on October 7, 2011 [15 favorites]

I've heard that Maine Coons and Norwegian forest cats are very dog-like. If you're not committed to a specific breed, you could try finding a cat rescue that does fostering; foster-groups are usually pretty good at matching you up with a pet with the right personality, since the foster-parents can vouch for their "at-home" personalities.
posted by specialagentwebb at 8:26 AM on October 7, 2011 [6 favorites]

My friend went to a shelter and picked the cat that approached her and wanted attention. The cat is very dog like and demands attention pretty much every time she sees you. I think picking a kitten would be a crap shoot but by a year or two you can get a pretty good idea of their personality.
posted by doctor_negative at 8:27 AM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

I think you can tell a lot by just observing the cat. You might be better off at looking at older rescues because you can see more about their personalities (plus they really need homes).

Pick one who seems very excited to see you and displays the traits you're looking for. You can usually spend some time in a room alone with them. If you find one that's confident, playful, and affectionate right away, you've probably found the one you're looking for. That cat will consider you to be their savior till they die.
posted by Raichle at 8:28 AM on October 7, 2011 [3 favorites]

When I was planning on adopting a cat, I came across this survey at Washington Animal Rescue League. It seems like you know what kind of personality you want your cat to have, so you could take this quiz and get recommendations based on that type, even if you don't live in DC.
A good adoption agency will be able to match you up with a cat that fits your needs -- which works out best for cat and owner!
posted by Cwell at 8:28 AM on October 7, 2011

We have a Maine Coon and a black short-hair rescue cat. I prefer the rescue because she has an abundance of personality to the point of possibly amusing psychiatric problems. The Maine Coon is very sweet and loving, but kind of un-catty. She lacks the cleverness and hilarity of other cats that I've met and is sort of just a lapdog. If you're looking for that, great, but I like my cats to be catty.
posted by Raichle at 8:30 AM on October 7, 2011

I don't think you're describing a terribly unusual cat personality. It sounds like Lucy is on the more extroverted end of the spectrum, but I think you can tell that at a shelter - they're the extroverted ones who aren't terribly skittish of strangers (take into consideration the noise and bustle in the immediate area - they do get overwhelmed just like anyone would).

A cat that's being fostered in a home might be easier to assess, and I think this kind of cat is part nature and part nurture. You want a cat that likes people, one that's got a little sass, and hasn't had too hard a life so far.

Maine Coons and MC-mutts are very doglike in cat ways - large, don't shut up, inclined to be companion-like. But they really do tend to be large, and they are very thickly furry, which may be qualities you are not wanting in a cat. Also the talking. They don't chat, they hold forth. You can have long conversations with one and in the end feel like you have fallen short of expectations.

In short, I think cats are mostly like the cats you're talking about if they're not skittish or neurotic, and you can usually tell those qualities from the outset.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:30 AM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

This seems to have turned into a "isn't my cat great?" post rather than useful advice on how to find such a cat, but there's no shortage of them.

True, sorry, I should have added that the technique I used in the "will my cat be great" assessment was specifically trying to answer the questions, " Can I pet him anywhere," "Is he cool being picked up," " How is he with new people," "How is he with other animals."
posted by sweetkid at 8:31 AM on October 7, 2011

Go to a shelter, find a cat who is at least 9 months old and acts the way you want your cat to act. It's much easier to see the personality of a semi-adult cat. There are a bunch of breeds that are known for being affectionate -- Ragdolls like to be cuddled, Maine Coons like to play, Norwegian Forest Cats like water, etc -- but you can get find cats of all personalities in a shelter. (And if there are cats coming out of foster homes, you can get very good descriptions of their personalities if the foster families are evn a little diligent.)
posted by jeather at 8:32 AM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Maybe this is just more anecdata, but I too have found neutered males to be far more laid back, affectionate, and less fussy than females. And maybe I'm nuts, but there seems to be something about calico females that is particularly bonkers.

I have 2 Devon Rex and they are incredibly affectionate, playful, and personable - however my male is FAR more personable than my female. And to be honest, he's got some pretty significant health issues for a young cat, all breed related or linked.
posted by lilnublet at 8:32 AM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ragdolls are often described as 'puppy cats' because they are very attentive. I have one and they seem to bond strongly with their owner, meet you at the door, chat all day and follow you to the toilet etc etc (careful what you wish for when picking your cat.)

Something something and others are right that some cats are like this. Not all cats are aloof.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 8:34 AM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

My shelter kitty Jean-Luc is totally like this. Our other shelter cat is also affectionate, cuddly, but less "dog-like." Our humane society locale of choice has little rooms where there are usually 4-5 cats hanging out (as opposed to the cats that have their own separate cage). With both cats, we went into the room, sat down and they came up to us and were immediately affectionate and curious. I think Jean-Luc even gave me kisses.

It seems like if a cat is friendly and dog-like, it's pretty obvious right away (as opposed to shy kitties that take a bit to warm up to you). Go to the shelter, hang out with a few cats and see what happens. It might take some time, but you'll eventually find a cat that's right for you.
posted by radioaction at 8:36 AM on October 7, 2011

Just a quick report of how an old friend got a cat that did a lot of what you describe (affectionate, outgoing...very very outgoing), although I don't know about the silliness aspect. The friend wanted a sociable cat after buying a breed cat that had a horrible, horrible personality.

She went to a shelter and did the following test (how to pick a sociable cat) that she read in a book: You have the animals in a pen, get away from them for a distance, and call them. The kitten that gets there first is the one that you should pick. She wanted a kitten and did this test.

But there was randomness in this test, though. She wanted a kitten and was doing this test with kittens. An adult cat jumped out and escaped from the adult pen, ran over all the kittens to get there first and was very, very affectionate and outgoing. They put the adult cat back and tried it again with the kittens, and once again the adult cat got out, ran over and past the kittens, and got there first. The took this cat home. This is just a random story but I do believe there was something to that behavioral test of at least selecting for a cat with social outgoing personality.
posted by Wolfster at 8:39 AM on October 7, 2011 [5 favorites]

Zach could be very dog-like sometimes. He even nagged me to play fetch with him once.

That's the second time today I've had a chance to talk about him. Miss that little putz.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:40 AM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Nthing older cats. You can tell more about their personalities when they're older and the sweetest, most cuddly cats I know are old pound cats.
posted by Kurichina at 8:40 AM on October 7, 2011

Snowshoe males are like this. I always tell people mine is a dog trapped in a cat's body. He loves meeting people, and I think he'd be a great therapy cat.
posted by jgirl at 8:41 AM on October 7, 2011

I have two Turkish Angoras. They are almost always described as "doglike". They are endlessly entertaining, very demonstrative in their affection, and extremely curious. They do need a lot of attention.
posted by Cygnet at 8:44 AM on October 7, 2011

I bred tonkinese as a kid. They are the result of Burmese Siamese cross, and have been a recognized breed for decades. They have the Siamese intelligence and conversational tendency without being shouty. They play fetch, they shoulder surf, they snuggle, and mine all figured out how to open doors with ancient oval knobs.

They are not quite as velcro-ey as some cats, but are usually up for a good snuggle. If their people need to be away for long periods, it is highly recommended to get a pair, rather than a singleton.

Here is a cute picture that includes a picture of some tonk kittens jumping over a hurdle. Like agility dogs (or horses. whatever.)

I would recommend getting a retired show cat if you can, but also look into a retired sire or dame. Tonk breeders generally are in it because they love the animals, and are quite picky about where the cats go. Some litters are spoken for months before they're even conceived.
posted by bilabial at 8:47 AM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

You definitely want a cat that's described as "juvenile" (9 months, I think) or older. They have lost their kittenish-ness and you will be able to figure out their personality better. Generally (but not always), males are friendlier.

When I got my second cat, I was looking for a cat like what you're describing because we needed one that would get along with our older cat.

Personality-wise, I chose the cat who seemed to be aware, who was very friendly (climbed all over me when I met him and wasn't scared), and after they put him back in the cage, who mewed at me until I came over to pet him - several times.

Also I recommend getting a shelter cat rather than a pet store cat. You may have to make several trips until you find the right cat, but you will know when you do. They choose you.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:48 AM on October 7, 2011

I love Turkish Angoras, but they are...uh...troublemakers if left to their own devices, or if they feel in any way put upon. They pretty much require constant attention.

And they are worse in pairs.
posted by bilabial at 8:48 AM on October 7, 2011

My cats are like this too, one of them more then the other. (They're litter-mates, both spayed females.) We got them as tiny kittens and I think they turned out this way because of the way we treat them. We give them lots of cuddles, talk to them a lot, play with them, and generally give them lots of attention. It may just be their natural personalities, but I think we have sort of "trained" them to be super affectionate. They are the best cats ever!

I did have another cat who was kind of dog-like too. I got her from a shelter when she was about a year old. The shelter had little rooms where you could hang out with the cats people were considering adopting. She didn't seem that affectionate when I saw her in her little cage, but once I got her into the room she climbed up in my lap and nuzzled my face. Sold.

So I guess I'm nthing to get an older cat from a place where you can check out their personality beforehand! I think most shelters have a sort of visiting room like the one I went to did.
posted by apricot at 8:50 AM on October 7, 2011

Our cat is just some weirdo we found on the street. Extroverted, wacky cats are just as common as the snoozy aloof ones. The downside of having an active cat: he will yell at you until you play with him, and he always wants to play when you're ready for bed.

In recent years, I've seen shelters list the cat's "feline-ality," so you can more easily rule out the Garfields of the bunch.

I agree with the advice to get a young adult - they're mostly grown but still active - and to consider the cats who are the most HAY GUYS!! when they see you. Most shelters/rescues will allow you to hang out with the cat a little. You won't get the cat's complete personality, but a cat who immediately jumps into your lap or starts chasing after toys will just as eagerly do that at home, too.

Once you find your cat, be sure to play with him regularly: they don't just like interaction, they need it. And it's easier to keep a cat in the habit of exercising than to attempt to get it back in the habit after months or years of inactivity.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:50 AM on October 7, 2011 [4 favorites]

I agree about getting matched up at a shelter. They will generally be pretty straight with you-- I thought they'd be eager to get the cats out into homes, but they counseled me a lot and ended up matching me with a different cat than I had originally intended on fostering. Most shelter people are good people. :)

Also, this is true of animals in general-- last year my sister and I adopted rabbits. I chose mine based on her coloring and fur pattern and my sister chose hers because she bounded up to the side of the cage and started licking her hand right away (unusual for rabbits). My rabbit ended up being sweet but very shy and easily spooked, whereas hers remained friendly and easy to play with. You can tell a lot from a pet's immediate behavior, as long as nothing traumatizing happens in the meantime.

Anyway, we had a very, very standoffish cat when I was a kid (hated being picked up and never sat in our laps) but it was hard to notice at first because she was very young. Older cats are more predictable, of course. But the kitten I fostered last year was female and absolutely incorrigible, so there are definitely plenty of cats out there that LOVE to play. Handling them a lot if they're young will help.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:51 AM on October 7, 2011

Quasar meets me at the door when I come home from work. She also feels that any time I have a lap, up to and including when I'm on the toilet, it is her right to sit in it.

Zenith loves everyone that ever was.

They are Scottish folds, but that particular breed is not a vocal breed, and they will generally only meow if they need something. We got them as kittens, have lavished them with attention, and their personalities reflect this.
posted by Zophi at 8:51 AM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

My wife and I have 2 cats. They are brother and sister. While the girl is hit or miss, the guy is about as close to a dog as you can get. He's super playful, you can pet him anywhere and he'll never get mad, and he's very loving. They are orange tabby's. While I can't say this with my experience male cats are much more dog like then females. I'm not saying there aren't great girls out there...but I think you have a better shot at a male. Oh, and most orange tabby's I've come across are really nice. You just have to get out there and sit with the cat or kitten for a while and get a feel for it. There are no guarantees when it comes to selecting a pet. But take your time and when the right cat comes along, I think you'll know it. Enjoy the cute fluff balls!
posted by ljs30 at 8:52 AM on October 7, 2011

You might consider a Somali. We inherited two Somali cats when my father-in-law died. I've always had cats, but nothing quite like these. If you read the description at the link, they are known for their playful personalities, and our cats have personality plus. Sammy, the boy, is exactly the type of cat you describe. We call him a clown cat because he is so funny and playful. You can pick him up and snuggle him like a teddy bear, he's always doing crazy, silly things.

However, there is always going to be variation from cat to cat. Penny, our girl cat, is more reserved and "cat-like". Although she loves to be brushed, and is an absolute tyrant about it (standing on nightstand where I keep her brush, and meowing until we come attend to her). She's not quite a playful or affectionate as Sammy, but still quite funny and endearing.
posted by kimdog at 8:52 AM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

All my cats are like that. Just pay attention to their temperaments when picking.

I had a bunny who rough housed ... dog people elitism is ridiculous.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 8:52 AM on October 7, 2011

My Maine Coon was pretty dog-like, but Roswell, your basic American shorthair, really likes to play fetch (we're doing so right now; typing is difficult when a fetching cat insists on playing fetch), and he runs to greet me when I get home (unless he's busy doing something else, like sleeping), and he follows me from room to room if I'm gone "too long."

Some breeds are more dog-like than others, but a lot of it is just luck of the draw, personality-wise.
posted by rtha at 8:53 AM on October 7, 2011

I agree that this is not too unusual for cat behavior, and I think something something is right that you can pick these kinds of cats simply by spending a little time with them. My family had a cat who thought he was a dog. Not only was he very affectionate and attention-hungry, he also had none of the usual feline grace. When we went to pick him up as a kitten, he walked backwards off a counter. And right away we just knew he'd be different from our other more cat-like cat, who would never have been caught doing something so undignified. He was beautiful, and looked all slinky and cat-like, but then he'd trip or do something really awkward. Dog-like behavior in a cat, to me, is connected to a willingness to look like a total goof-ball.

We thought he was part Abyssinian and part who knows what, but I'm not even sure breed matters that much. (Though in my experience sex might, males do seem to tend more towards the dog-like behavior.) It may well be true that it's easier to pick these traits out in an older cat, but ours made it clear from the beginning that he was slightly...untraditional as far as personality goes.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 8:54 AM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've always heard that Ragdolls are super social (and the woman who started the breed, Ann Baker, says that they have human genes, are immune to pain, and are a link between humans and space aliens).

I have two cats that sound similar to Lucy, and they're both just black cats. FWIW, my vet thinks that they might be Siamese mixes, because of their bone structure.
posted by amarynth at 8:57 AM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: It's funny to hear people talk about how their cat chose them - my father picked Lucy because when all of the cats were in their cages, she reached out to him with her paw :)
posted by kat518 at 8:58 AM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've heard that Maine Coons and Norwegian forest cats are very dog-like.

I have one of each, and yes. The MC races to the door when he hears my husband's car pull into the driveway and then follows him around excitedly when he comes into the house. The Norwegian is a little less outwardly desperate; she bides her time until after the kids go to bed and we settle in to watch a little TV, when she wedges herself between us. Both cats groom us with their tongues while we pet them, follow us from room to room just to be near us, and get agitated around strangers until they can tell that we consider them to be safe.

Also they are both enormous.
posted by padraigin at 8:58 AM on October 7, 2011

After my kittygirl passed away, I wanted a cat that was less vocal. Mainly because I missed her "meeeeh" and didn't want someone to replace it. So I went to the pound and went into where all the kitties were and said "I will take home the quietest kitten." And all the kittens and cats went "MMMMEEEOOOWW!" except one.

I went over to his cage and he stuck his paw out and touched my face with it. I took him home because he was quiet. Buuuut, it turns out he had ear mites wicked bad and as soon as those were gone he was quite the talker.

Buckley (that's his late life partner, Fizgig in the background) is now known as the huggy kitty by everyone who meets him and has converted my husband, who was not a cat person, to at the very least a Buckley Person. All of my cats have been really affectionate, but I have to say Buckley wins the most loving award. Fiz would run and greet you at the door and fetched in is younger years, but Buckley loves all things. Even dogs.

Like everyone is saying, you play with the kitten and you look for one that is outgoing and affectionate. And then once you get them home, you encourage that. That's how you get a dog-cat.
posted by teleri025 at 9:03 AM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

I agree with those above that getting an older cat will allow you a better chance to choose for personality. I don't think that you necessarily need to get a certain breed or color of cat (particularly if it means shelling out the bucks for a purebred one when there are so many delightful cats in shelters).

I've had two very extroverted, human-oriented cats that I picked out at the shelter. One was 2 years, a hard luck little lady, and the other 10 months male (so, gender doesn't really matter either). Here is my strategy: pick the cat who is eager for your attention, who greets you when you walk up to the cage, who will look at you in the eye, purr and let himself be manhandled by you. Yes, that means tummy rubs. Pick him up, turn him around, put him on your shoulder, cradle him like a baby. If he's still in good spirits, you've probably got a good potential buddy. Also, make sure to talk to whoever is working at the shelter -- they get a pretty good feel for personalities, so ask if there are any staff favorites.
posted by sk932 at 9:10 AM on October 7, 2011

You're looking for smarts, really. Assessing smarts is HARD. It's sort of like conducting an IQ test for a four-year-old: you have to watch how they play, how they use tools, how they communicate with you, how they take your cues. Certainly everyone is right about young adults; almost all kittens are equally dumbass. (Also it'd be great if you could foster, though that's hard, to get to know a cat first.)

I recently cat-sit a cat that played hide-and-seek regularly. (Also he liked to be spanked?) It was weird; it was like a schnauzer in a cat's body. But "circus cats" are all around: lots of cats love learning tricks, love making up games, and the right combination of them are both game-oriented and people-oriented in that way you mean. Dog-like cats are all around, in all shapes and sizes; you just gotta, you know, let the right one in. Don't be afraid to wait!
posted by RJ Reynolds at 9:13 AM on October 7, 2011 [3 favorites]

As others here have mentioned the Norwegian Forest Cat is worth a look.

I had a female for years (RIP Kitty... yes she was just named Kitty) and she was the best cat I ever had in terms of socializing and interacting. She wasn't big on chasing toys around, but loved to be held and loved meeting new people. Any time a visitor came over, she would hide until everyone was settled, then find the new person and jump on their lap or onto the back of their chair to nuzzle them. She also came when called pretty consistently. She was definitely a house-cat, with little interest in going outside.

Another possibility is a Manx. We currently have a Manx kitten ("Static") and she is incredibly entertaining and curious. She loves to chase things around the house, and if a toy isn't available, she will find a scrap of paper or an ink pen and bat it around and chase it for hours. She also like to be held and petted once she winds down.

Ultimately, it will depend on the individual cat of course. You'll get a feel for the personality when you spend some time with them, but be assured there ARE cats for dog-people.
posted by The Deej at 9:20 AM on October 7, 2011

The great cats being described in the anectdotes here are NOT "dog-like" cats. They are cats behaving like cats. Not every dog is friendly and laid back; many are shy or neurotic or weird, or some combination of those three. Don't get a cat hoping it will be a dog. It will be a cat. You've gotten great advice on how to pick a cat that will be affectionate and have a fun personality. I hope you find a wonderful cat who needs a home.
posted by Dolley at 9:21 AM on October 7, 2011 [4 favorites]

I will agree with Metroid Baby. If you aren't careful, dog-cats turn into party cat pretty quickly. I'm pretty lucky that my current party cat can amuse himself for hours. But we still need to tire him out after dinner time if we want to get any sleep.

My method for picking out party cat was young, male, orange and watching the one who was too busy attacking the things to care we were there. I went young only because I've had better luck introducing kittens. At eight weeks, party cat wanted to be best friends with aloof cat, so I only had to convince one cat to agree to the new arrangement. Now party cat freaks out at cats, if the accidental run-in with the neighbors cat is any indication.

If you go with a kitten, make sure you really socialize the cat. Bring people and dogs over, and let things be really loud. After those first few months, there's not a lot of training that can be done.

obligatory picture of party cat, with the reaction of aloof cat.
posted by politikitty at 9:21 AM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

I picked out my outgoing, sociable girl Anastasia at Tony La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation. They have a program called "Meet Your Match" which personality-tests the cats and quizzes you on what you want in a cat. When I went to adopt a cat the adoption counselor met with me, talked about my expectations, then suggested Anastasia (who went by another name then) as a good match for me.

The ARF cats are kept in enclosures, not cages, so they have room to move around, stretch, climb, sleep in a hidey-hole and generally be cats. Anastasia came right up to me and rubbed her head against me and meowed. I was sold. Now that I have her she's loving, affectionate, sits in my lap, and runs to greet me when I get home.

I suggest the following if you want a cat that suits you: Pick a really good shelter, with trained adoption counselors, which doesn't keep the cats in small cages (many shelters now have "kitty rooms" instead). Find a shelter which does the "Meet Your Match" testing or something similar. Go for an adult cat, and absolutely pick your cat based on personality and not hair color or fluffiness or general "cuteness." IMO that's one of the biggest mistakes cat owners make - they pick a cat because it looks good instead of going for one with a great personality. Then they grumble that Kitty is aloof and doesn't like to be petted. You're far better off picking an "ordinary" black-and-white shorthair that is outgoing and loving rather than a "pretty" fluffy pure white or pointed kitty whose personality doesn't suit yours.

There are many, many, terrific loving outgoing cats out there - and you don't have to get a purebed to find one. It's a misconception that all cats are aloof, shy or quirky.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:22 AM on October 7, 2011

My cat thinks she's half dog, half human.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:29 AM on October 7, 2011

Both of my Silver Tabbies (one purebred, one mixed) were/are "cats who act like dogs that thhink they are human." I like smart fun cats, and the silver strippey type never disappoint!

I was very super impressed with the demeanor of the Bengal I rescued a while back. Absolutely similar in temperament to the Silver Tabby, the Bengal is a bit more athletic, where the Silver Tabby was more willing to take more direction. To a point. Because y'know, they're still cats!

My current Silver Tabby mix follows me around the neighborhood like a dog follow its master. Everyone comments on it, but my other Silver Tabby was exactly the same way, so I've been conditioned to expect constant feline companionship as "normal." In fact, my current Tabby used to walk with me to the corner store and back when we lived somewhere this was safe to do. She rocks!
posted by jbenben at 9:29 AM on October 7, 2011

Another vote for Maine coons, Norwegian forest cats, and Abyssinians. Read up on them to see which personality suits you best.
posted by futz at 9:30 AM on October 7, 2011

N'thing Maine Coon. Here's our little cat-dog, Geronimo. He's small for a Maine Coon, basically stopped growing after a year. But his personality is like those described above. He waits for me at the door when I get home, then runs around like a madman for about 20 minutes until he gets worn out. When he needs affection he'll follow you around the house until you sit down and rub his belly. Always sleeps with us at night, and if you're taking a nap during the day, forget it, he's all over you. We shave his hair and give him baths and for the most part, he's cool with it. If we're sitting on the couch at night and he wants to play, he'll get one of his toy mice, hop up, and drop it in front of us. I throw it, he brings it back, repeat until he gets bored. And, yes, if you're wondering, that's a harness in the picture. We're too neurotic to let him outside without one, so we like to put him on a leash and take walks around the neighborhood. Yep. We're those people. Maine Coons are the best.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:33 AM on October 7, 2011

My friends have a cornish rex that likes headbutting, shoulder sitting, and playing. No sheddy hairs either :) Looking at breed types can give you an idea of what to probably expect (Sphinx are pretty hyper, Maine Coon tend to be pretty large n furry, etc) People often say males (FIXED males!) are more snuggly and laidback. Anecdotally true from what I've seen.

However, no cat is going to be exactly like another.

Please, Please, Please get a shelter kitty!

Interesting fact: Cats are, in fact, trainable. If you have a halfway smart one, you can train them easily. Some people even train cats to use toilets!
posted by Jacen at 10:09 AM on October 7, 2011

My cat, Baz, is exactly like that. He's happy to lap up attention from anyone at any time and is pretty easy-going about being picked up, rubbed, wrasseled with, etc. What other cat can you repeatedly put in sweaters and survive with both your eyes intact? I can also put him on a leash and he'll hang out tethered outside. So he's probably part dog.

He's your basis shelter cat. When I got him, I was able to play with him in a room for about an hour. I put him through the paces - played, teased, ignored, picked him up, put him down. Ran him around, etc. to see how he'd react - can he rev up but also calm himself down and not get aggressive? I think that's the key - you have to really interact with them. I knew he'd be a good housemate, but they also told he he was unlikely to be a lap cat. That turned out not to be true - he will sit on any and all available laps and gets cranky if I'm not sitting down in the evenings where he can perch on me somewhere.
posted by marylynn at 10:56 AM on October 7, 2011

Hardcore dog person here; every one of the cats I've known (via friends, roommates, etc.) who has been sufficiently dog-like for my tastes has been an orange tabby.
posted by scody at 11:30 AM on October 7, 2011 [4 favorites]

I'm noticing a long-haired theme here, and I'm going to add to it. My shelter-adopted Persian is dog-like in some of the ways you describe - vocal (like a bark-inclined dog, this can be both positive and negative), bouncy, inquisitive, and likes to be walked on a harness (wish I had a picture of this on my work computer!). His behavior isn't exactly typical for his breed, renowned for eating Fancy Feast out of crystal goblets and looking like Ron Swanson.

As everyone else has mentioned, shelter cats rock. Shelter staff tend to rock as well, particularly when it comes to knowing the personalities of the cats they look after. I volunteered at a shelter once a week for a few years, and was often called upon to 'recommend' a cat with a certain personality trait.

My other shelter-related observation is that it seems that domesticated cats who spent a good chunk of time on the street are more likely to develop some dog-like characteristics. For example, my guy lived in a Target parking lot for 6 months before someone caught him and brought him to the shelter. I'm obviously *not* saying we should have cats running around homeless to 'toughen them up - this is just an observation.

Good luck finding your ideal cat-dog!
posted by brackish.line at 11:38 AM on October 7, 2011

I have a very dog-like cat that's very much as you describe. His mother and sister are owned by a friend of mine, and they're all very similar, which implies to me that these are genetic traits (unfortunately, I have no idea what breed they might be -- medium-length, all black fur with white chests and paws.)

So if you can locate someone giving away kittens, you might be able to judge their future behavior based on their mother's.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:09 PM on October 7, 2011

I have four cats all of whom are affectionate, but Oliver takes the cake.

Oliver was taught to walk on a harness and leash as a kitten and even months after his last walk he gets very excited when he hears the jingle the leash and harness. He's never met a stranger of any species. He walks up to strange dogs and sniffs their faces; the WTF look on the dogs faces is hilarious. If he meets a human and they pick him up or sit down with him, they immediately have a cat sniffing their face. He loves being carried around the house, but if you stop for too long, he'll jump down. He follows me everywhere including the bathroom (hey, you have free hands, pet me!). He'll sit half on my lap half on my keyboard tray and look up at me with what looks like adoration. He likes to sleep on my shoulder or waist while I'm sleeping. He meets me and the mister at the door every time we come home.

As others have said, you need to look for the outgoing cat or kitten. A rescue or shelter is a good place to start if you don't want to get a specific breed. Oliver is a mutt from a pet store, but I would, in general, avoid them. (Yes, I know, do as I say, not as I do, but the shelter didn't have any kittens; cats, kittens and small dogs are really hard to find in my area.)
posted by deborah at 2:31 PM on October 7, 2011

If you want a breed to look for: Bengals. They are very doglike, very people-focused, and athletic. Also love water and can be a little nutso. They're expensive; look for a good breeder (who breeds for temperament). There are Bengal rescues but you want to be up front with them about your cat experience because the cats in the rescue are often ones who have issues (eg peeing, behavioral/medical issues, etc).

But also, if you contact local rescue/fostering groups looking for a regular mutt cat, you'll likely find one with with all the features you're looking for. It's good to go through a rescue/foster group so they can give you a sense of the cat's personality.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:32 PM on October 7, 2011

Get yourself a bottlefed.

For the record, I've never had an aloof cat (Siamese and Maine Coons here), but the two kittens I bottlefed (black and tuxedo) stick to humans like glue. Of course they're huge 14-lb. beasts now, but I don't think you can go wrong with a rescue kitten. Double bonus points if you feed them yourself.
posted by cyndigo at 3:55 PM on October 7, 2011

Siamese are generally considered to be rather dog-like in their characters. But they often aren't very cuddly. My previous cat experiences have always been with grown-up cats, and I thought cats just had intrinsic personalities that you had to live with. This time around I got a kitten, and was amazed at how mouldable she was. We used clicker training a lot, and she comes when we call her, fetches, and does other dog-like tricks. She also talks to us (meep MEEP) and is cuddly, both of which I ascribe to spending a lot of time interacting with her in the early days.
posted by lollusc at 5:09 PM on October 7, 2011

We have two female shelter cats and one young male siamese. The latter has been described by a dog-owning visitor as "what you have there is a dog". It may be partly because of his breed - I grew up with siamese cats and loved their playful doggy natures. But I have also found that male cats seem less skittish and more sociable. Anyway, when the doorbell rings, the two girlies (one orange, one black) run to hide, and Mr. Siamese runs to greet whoever it is. He is playful, smart, and affectionate. And chatty. I'm all for rescuing shelter cats (had lots of them), but this chap is a completely different kettle of fish - fun, active, and bright. Will definitely want another one or two (even better) many years from now.
posted by fish tick at 7:26 PM on October 7, 2011

A couple months ago there was a very affectionate stray kitty hanging around my building. He was under a year but not a baby. My neighbor decided to take him in, and he is still incredibly affectionate. We hypothesize that it is probably an engrained survival tactic - humans give food, so he is friendly to humans. Works out nicely for everyone.
posted by radioamy at 8:35 PM on October 7, 2011

My two Siberian cats are very dog-like; they meet me at the door when I get home from work, love to snuggle and rough-house, and follow me around the house in the morning like little pups. They look up at me and purr as I get ready... :)

If my wife or I bump into something and let out a yelp, they come rushing over to make sure we're okay. It's adorable.

Not only that - the Siberian is the only "hypo-allergenic" breed of cat. So even if you're generally allergic to cats (like my wife), you can have a Siberian and be okay.
posted by Terheyden at 9:18 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Crazy cat lady here. Some notes:

Bengals are the most dog-like that I'm aware of. They need constant entertainment though- they are a bundle of tightly coiled springs and endless energy. All of my "I only like dogs" friends loved my Bengal. They meet you at the door, sleep with you and hog the bed, and like to roughhouse. They are VERY vocal.

Ragdolls are extremely affectionate, and know how to work a room, but don't seem to make much noise. They are very passive and cannot be outside cats, because they'll get killed by other cats. They just don't defend themselves. Also, they have a tendency to get themselves in dangerous situations and rather than meowing for help, they just sit there. Example: when Henri was young, he got tangled up in the cord from the mini blinds and it was even wrapped around his neck. I walked past him several times and even asked him why he was just sitting there, before I realized that he was trapped and couldn't move. He repeated that stunt a couple more times, in spite of my best efforts to keep cords away from him, until he finally learned to stay away from cords. At 2 1/2, he has finally learned to make peeping noises if he requires attention.

My mother has two Maine Coons. One is huge, the other is freakin' enormous. One greets you at the door, the other comes out after a few minutes to say hello. They are both very affectionate; neither is terribly vocal.

Every cat I've had that would start purring if you just looked at it, was a calico. Very sweet personalities.

As someone said above, orange tabbies seem to be pretty doglike, although I've only had experience with male orange tabbies.

But nthing the general concensus that any breed of cat can have these qualities, as cats aren't really as aloof as their reputation, and anyway cats are notorious for breeding indiscriminately, so the dog-like genes turn up everywhere.
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:27 PM on October 7, 2011

My cat picked me. Or at least that's what I believe. She was in a cage at a pet store (from a shelter though), was all black just like I wanted, and came right up to the cage immediately, meowing up a storm. It was perfect, except that I didn't have the cash on-hand to get her right there. I had to drive back to my place, pick up some cash, and drive back to get her. It was a very tense hour of my life, because I would have died if someone else got her.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 11:25 PM on October 7, 2011

Burmese! The first answer is in this thread is the best one. They meet you at the door and start telling you about their day. They are most often in the same room as you, often doing what they can to take part in your activities. Their favourite game is to fetch things you throw to them. They need company almost constantly though, so if you are away in the days, you need another cat. Preferably another Burmese or someone similar - they get impatient with flaccid long-haired breeds and start to nibble their tails to provoke some action.
posted by springload at 1:43 AM on October 8, 2011

I grew up with four farm cats, three kittens and their mother found in a roadside ditch by 10-year-old me. The kittens grew up to be doglike in their affection for people; the mother cat was already very loving, having clearly been a house cat at some point. My younger siblings and I all played with the kittens, so they grew up being handled by a variety of humans. When grown, they showed no wariness of strangers and would always be rubbing against the ankles of whoever was nearest, purring their heads off and glad to play. I miss those cats like anything.

They weren't any particular breed; Momcat was a dilute calico in color, with the kittens all various combinations of blue and white. So, while some breeds of cat are bred for "doglike" characteristics, you do find them across the full spectrum of cathood. I've just been visiting a small local shelter prior to adopting two cats; the lady who ran the place was familiar with all her charges, and experienced enough that she could tell with even the very young kittens which ones would be more playful and which would be more retiring.

(I've ended up with one shy, sweet cat and one outgoing pick-me-up cat. They're coming home tomorrow! Eeeeeeee!)
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:30 AM on October 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

One anecdotal-supported-by-further-hearsay note about bengals, and other similar hybridized-with-wild-cat breeds: they can be doglike, but they can also be pretty mean towards strange people.

My ex had a Savannah cat for a while who hated my guts. Rupert was definitely affectionate with my ex, but any time I came around, he'd hiss, hugging my ex's ankles, or he'd go hide in the closet --- or, sometimes he'd park himself in one place and not let me get past him, hissing and spitting if I came within five feet of him (which got damn inconvenient once when Rupert was guarding the bathroom). My ex would try picking Rupert up and bringing him over to have me pet him and make nice, but Rupert would still hiss and spit at me. I think ONCE I got a headbutt when I gave him a treat and my ex was holding him down, but that was it.

Other people told me that Rupert treated them the same too -- and finally my ex admitted something about Savannahs, and other half-wild half-domesticated breeds like Bengals, could be similarly antagonistic towards strangers. So I get the sense that bengals could be doglike, but that the dogs that they're "like" are the dogs that bark and growl at the mailman.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:01 AM on October 8, 2011

Just to put forth the other side of EmpressCallipygos' comment, my Bengal loved absolutely everyone, including the other cats and the Rottweiler that lived with me for a while. In fact, he used to sneak out of my apartment, and I'd find him either hanging out with neighbors, or relaxing under a tree with 4 or 5 neighborhood cats. (They always looked as if they were playing poker and smoking cigars.) Just make sure that any one you get is at least a 4F. (That indicates how many generations removed from wild.)
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:11 AM on October 8, 2011

Can't speak to Savannahs but the bengals I've known have been lovey to strangers, or at worst, cautious enough to hide away from strangers. Not always great with other cats, but good with humans.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:46 AM on October 8, 2011

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