Sunday 30 March 2008

Cat Breed Characteristics

cat flying through the air in a wood
Cat Breed Characteristics - all cats including Spooky above can jump extremely well (almost all, I mean, my girl cat is too fat). That is a characteristic that transcends cat breeds. Almost all characteristics do. Photograph is copyright Gail S and is reproduced under creative commons license.

Cat Breed Characteristics is a something that interests me. This is a post about the topic at a general level. If you'd like to see all the breeds and read about their origins, history, character and appearance I'd advise clicking here and going to the top of the navigation bar. Or use the navigation bar on this website. There are links to all the breeds.

People outside the cat fancy (cat lovers and cat breeders etc.) might think that the different cat breeds are separated by appearance and character.

The truth is that cat breeders are mainly concerned with the appearance of the cat breed that they are breeding and that the cat is socialized (able to behave well in human company). Cat breeders cannot control or create cats with specific personalities that fit a profile as there is no personality profile. Breed standards almost exclusively deal with appearance.

Their objective is to get the look just right, absolutely inline with the breed standard. As the breed standard can be interpreted fairly widely by a judge the breeders even go beyond the standard and breed cats that have the appearance required but to an extreme degree. In fact there is a desire to ensure that the cat breeds are well defined, one from the other. This can be difficult in a crowded market. The market place in cat breeds is quite full. There isn't much room left for new breeds if any new breeds at all.

cat silhouetted against the sky
Cat Silhouetted against the sky. This picture has nothing to do with this post. I just liked it. The photographer HiggySTFC (photo copyright HiggySTFC) says you can just see the cat's eyes. He/she is facing the camera.

The point is this. The cat breeds are generally well defined in terms of appearance but in personality they are essentially all the same, with some slight general differences. After all there is little difference between wild cats and domestic cats. Domestic cats become wild cats to a large extent when they venture outside (if you let them out).

Take some general differences to one aspect of personality - inquisitiveness. At one end of the spectrum you might have a cat like the Persian, who has almost been bred it seems for indoor living. A cat will find little about which to be inquisitive indoors after a while. It seems to me the cat is forced to be docile and sleepy. At the other end of the spectrum there is the Savannah, a popular cat, a wildcat/domestic hybrid. A big, active, and inquisitive cat; an intelligent cat (it is said that the Persian is the least intelligent domestic cat but I don't really believe that).

It is probably viable to talk in terms of Cat Breed Characteristics with respect to activity levels. The characteristic of activity and inquisitiveness would seem to be one in which there are some differences between some breeds but the wide middle band are all the same. Perhaps though we help to create inactive cats or active cats. The greater differences is between individuals.

If all cats are socialized properly then all the cat breeds will be pleasant friendly cats. You often see a description of a cat breed where the author has stated that the breed is loyal and friendly, for example. Can one cat breed be more loyal and friendly than another and is friendliness a characteristic of a cat breed or the domestic cat generally? Loyalty and friendliness is describing a well socialized cat not a cat breed.

There are other slight differences. Some cats are quieter than others. The Siamese is vocal and the Maine Coon and Siberian have quiet voices, for example. Both are big cats. Both may (with the Norwegian Forest Cat) all come ultimately from the same origins. They are similar longhaired cats.

It is these sorts of differences that come to mind. The overriding view though is that all domestic cats have very similar personalities. Cat Breed Characteristics (in terms of personality) is a bit of a misnomer. This, in fact, must be the case.

Cat Breed Characteristics to Savannah Cat

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