This is wrong: '20 cat breeds that are very independent'

Newsweek presents an article entitled 20 cat breeds that are very independent. They quote Vicki Jo Harrison, the president of the International Cat Association (TICA). They wanted her assistance on the sort of breeds that are more independent than others which would suit people who are at work all day and away from their home.

Cat home alone crying
Cat home alone crying. Image: screenshot

I'm going to disagree strongly with both Newsweek and Ms Harrison even though she is the president of a very well-known cat association.

I'll tell you why I can disagree with her. The personalities of the various cat breeds are described on the Internet on websites and in books. Everyone has had a say at it. Often the same words are recirculated around the Internet. One author will copy another. These descriptions have little value in truth. That's the first difficulty in trying to pick out a breed which has a personality which allows them to be alone all day.

The second problem is this. Foundation cats are not selected by breeders for their breeding lines on the basis of their personality. Or if they do select for personality, it is a secondary issue. The primary criterion is the appearance of the cat. If all cat breeders selectively bred for character, you might be able to put some faith in the descriptions of the personalities of these breeds. But they don't. And even then, the base character; the feline character will dominate and domestic cats need company.

Therefore, we have to rely on the overall feline character. What I mean is that the character of the purebred cats is the same as the character of the non-purebred cats. It is the feline character; the raw cat within the domestic cat. This is a character which is aligned to the wild cat ancestor for obvious reasons because the domestic cat at heart is a domesticated North African wildcat.

On this argument all the cats of the various of cat breeds have very similar characters or personalities. Therefore, you can't differentiate one from the other. Therefore, you cannot select a cat breed which is more independent-minded than another. That's my argument, in perhaps simplistic terms.

There might be some small variations in character between the cat breeds. For example, Siamese cats are described as being loyal and they are more vocal. Persian cats are more laid back and decorative. The Ragdoll is meant to be super-laid-back and suited to home life. But you'll get aggressive Ragdoll cats sometimes depending upon the life experience. This is not a precise science and I think it is unreasonable and unrealistic to write an article about cat breeds which are 'very independent'.

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Also, they list 20 cat breeds. That's a very large number but what they're really saying is that the domestic cat per se is quite independent-minded in any case. That is what people think. But even that is wrong because domestic cats need the company of their human caregiver. They are domestic cats. They are socialised to be with humans. That is their raison d'ĂȘtre. Divorced from their humans, they can suffer from stress which can lead to conditions such as idiopathic cystitis. This might be caused by separation anxiety, a condition which is often talked about on the Internet.

There will be countless millions of cats suffering from stress because they have been labelled as being independent and therefore ignored. Some people might go to work confident in the belief that their cat is just fine being left alone for 10 hours. In my honest opinion they are not fine under those circumstances. Watch some videos of cats left alone all day and tell me they are fine. They are desperate for the return of their caregiver.

Newsweek and Ms Harrison are wrong to discuss the cat breeds like this.

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