Wednesday 22 September 2021

Friendliest and most aggressive cat breeds

The friendliest cat breed is said to be the Oriental and Siamese both long and short haired. This is according to a University of Helsinki study in which they questioned the owners of about 4000 purebred cats living in Finland. They admit that when you assess cat personality through a questionnaire you don't necessarily obtain accurate information because subjectivity can distort the results.  Although they did their best to make the results as accurate as possible:

For validation, we studied the internal consistency, test–retest reliability, inter-rater reliability, convergent validity and discriminant validity of this questionnaire and extracted factors.

The Burmese ranks highly in friendliness too. They friendliest originate in the Far East - coincidentally?

Friendly Oriental Shorthair
Friendly Oriental Shorthair. Photo: Helmi Flick.

I will also add that it is difficult to label an entire cat breed with a clear personality because by and large breeders don't breed for personality but for appearance. That said, it is known that Siamese cats or those cats within the Siamese family, as I call them, are vocal and interactive. If a domestic cat wants to interact, they have to be called friendly. Cats of the Siamese cat family are like this. They can be quite demanding and have loud voices. 

ASSOCIATED PAGE: Information on cat behavior – 13 snippets

But sadly, the Turkish Van has been branded the most aggressive cat breed by quite a margin by this group of scientists (but how big is the difference?). Once again there has to be a caveat against their conclusions. I suggested in an earlier post that it is possible that the human participants in this study all bought their Turkish Van cats from the same breeder. And what if that breeder had a foundation male cat who was a little bit aggressive but a beautiful specimen in terms of appearance. That would distort the results. Or perhaps the same male foundation cat's offspring were all used by various breeders in Finland. That, too, would have the same effect. I'm just suggesting that distortions in these sorts of surveys can occur and I'm sure the scientists would go along with that.

Aggressive Turkish Van?
Aggressive Turkish Van? No, but perhaps in comparison to the more friendly Siamese and Oriental. Photo: Helmi Flick.

However, I have read in the past, in a different study as I recall, that the Turkish Van has this reputation. It's interesting in one way to because I believe that the Turkish Van and Turkish Angora are the same cat. I believe that the cat fancy split one Turkish cat into two breeds. On that basis you would have thought that the Turkish Angora will also be aggressive but it is not listed in that way in the study.

There is difficulty in assessing a cat's personality in any case. The circumstances under which they live affects their behaviour and therefore the assessment of personality. A breeder can alter personality through selective breeding. This is a cat's personality being affected by inherited genes. But personality is also affected by environmental conditions and experiences. For example, a Turkish Van living in a slightly difficult human environment where the owner perhaps is not there a lot of the time and there are other cats, one of which might be a bully, would result in that individual Turkish Van presenting a less appealing personality to their owner.

ASSOCIATED PAGE: Siamese Cat Behavior Problems

I believe that when assessing cat personality, you have to do it on a cat-by-cat basis and in a good environment from the cat's perspective to ensure that you bring out the best in them. I don't know whether these conditions were wholly met by this study. I doubt it. The strength of the study is that they looked at 4000 cats or more. That's a large number and therefore some of these wrinkles that I have mentioned might have been ironed out to a certain extent. Therefore, the study has some value.

The friendliness of the cats of the Siamese cat family squares up with the views of Gloria Stephens who wrote the book Legacy of the Cat. She knows cats very well particularly cat breeds because she was a show judge. Her views validate the conclusions of the scientist. But I would make your own mind up on whether the Turkish Van is aggressive. I think that you will find many very friendly examples of this breed. But as for the Siamese, Oriental Shorthair, Oriental longhair, Balinese and Burmese, you'll find that they are friendly. But are they any more friendly than many other individual cats of other breeds or non-purebred cats?

That's an issue which needs to be mentioned briefly. If you're talking about friendliness and aggressiveness in individual cats, you will find millions of fantastically friendly shelter cats waiting to be adopted. You don't need to go to a breeder and rely on her and fork out $1000. You can pay the far cheaper shelter adoption fee and probably find an individual cat which is more friendly than even the friendliest of Siamese cats.

There is one last point that comes to my mind. If you say that the Turkish Van is more aggressive than the Siamese you have to ask by how much. If it is by a small amount, you might not even notice it in day-to-day living. It is a question of degree. Once again, I am watering down these results because I am sceptical about them although by all means read the study if you wish which you can do so by clicking on this link. It is called: Reliability and Validity of Seven Feline Behavior and Personality Traits.

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