What factors can determine the feline personality?

Are you thinking of sharing your life with a cat? Cats tend to be unpredictable. This quality makes choosing the best cat personality for your home and lifestyle a challenge. Find best cat scratching post ever.

It is known that the feline personality – even in purebred cats – is more difficult to predict than in the case of dog breeds. Therefore, it is wise to get informed before making this decision. In this article we will discuss which guidelines may be useful when taking the step of bringing a kitty home.

The influence of the breed on the feline personality

It is believed that cat breeds have specific behaviors. Thus, it is common to hear that ragdolls are relaxed and affectionate, while Russian Blues tend to be more reserved.

These impressions of cat owners and breeders had no scientific basis until now. But are there really behavioral differences associated with the breed?

A study published in 2019 in the journal Scientific Reports is the first academic article on this topic. Moreover, this study also addresses the question of whether these traits are passed on from one generation to the next.

Study description

The work analyzes the behavior of 5726 cats of 50 different breeds. Indeed, they found that different breeds behave differently. They also conclude that half of the characteristics observed were inheritable.

Among the aspects included were activity level, shyness, aggression and sociability with humans. The scientists report that the most marked differences between the races emerged in the activity category.

Aggressiveness in the feline personality

According to the study, ragdolls are more likely than other breeds to be shy of strangers and unfamiliar objects. At the same time, they are less likely to be aggressive toward humans.

Among the group of less aggressive breeds were also Persian cats, British shorthair and Cornish rex.

On the other hand, the van Turkish and angora breeds will commonly show more aggressive behavior than the other breeds studied, both towards humans and other cats.

At the extremes of the friendliness scale

According to the aforementioned study, the British Shorthair cat breed has the lowest tendency to seek human contact, while the Korat and Devon Rex breeds are the most likely to seek human contact.

Abyssinian and Persian cats were equally shy, an interesting observation, as it coincides with the perception that these breeds have a reserved personality.

As for the healthy fear

The British shorthair, Norwegian forest, ragdoll, Persian and Birman breeds proved to be the least fearful, while the Bengal and Russian blue breeds were the most fearful.

Breeding also matters in the cat personality

Of course, not all cat behavior can be attributed to breed. For example, researchers are careful to note that the cat’s early environment may have an effect on how they develop.

It is reasonable to think that in pedigree cats breeders invest more time in socializing kittens, which could have a rather dramatic effect on their social behaviors as they grow.

It is also possible that behavioral traits are influenced by the selection of physical traits that are characteristic of selective breeding in pedigree breeds. This means that some cat personality traits may be secreted in association with characteristics such as coat and eye color.

A second group of scientists, through statistical analysis, identified five main personality factors in domestic cats. In this study, they grouped 52 traits into five typical personalities. Some examples of this grouping are outlined below:

  • Impulsive: erratic and reckless behavior.
  • Dominant: intimidation, jealousy, aggression towards other cats.
  • Friendly: affection, kindness, friendship towards people.
  • Extraverted: vigilance, curiosity, inventiveness, cheerfulness.
  • Neurotic: insecurity, anxiety, fear of people, suspicion, shyness.

What is this classification useful for?

Identifying a cat’s typical trait, according to researchers, has important implications for improving the well-being of domestic cats, especially for cats with extreme scores on a given factor. In the case of a score that is considered extreme, an owner may want to seek advice and consider changes to their cat’s environment or management. Examples:

  • A high score on neurotic traits could indicate extreme shyness, which could be alleviated by additional hiding places.
  • A low score on extraversion – such as lack of purpose – could indicate cognitive dysfunction in an elderly cat, which would trigger an additional veterinary examination.
  • A high impulsivity score could mean stress, suggesting the need for evaluation and treatment by an animal behaviorist.

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