Showing posts with label cat personality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cat personality. Show all posts

Sunday 19 May 2024

Assessing cat personalities through owner questionnaires

In my view, it's not possible to gather accurate information about the personalities of different cat breeds by surveying their caregivers. This is due to the subjective nature of owners, who, in my honest opinion, may not possess the objectivity necessary to make a personality assessment meaningful. Moreover, personality assessment itself is inherently imprecise, especially when applied to domestic cats.

Assessing cat personalities through owner questionnaires
Scottish Fold owner filling out questionnaire on the personality of their cat. Image: MikeB

There are two imprecise processes at play: an evaluation by an owner who is biased due to their strong attachment to their cat, and the ambiguous task of assessing personalities, which tends to yield unreliable information. This is the case with the Burns Pet Nutrition survey, as reported by the Daily Mail online.

They say that the Burns Pet Nutrition survey has revealed that the Scottish Fold has been named as the top cat by the British. The survey participants said that they were most intelligent cat breed (75%) and the most affectionate (67%). 

Taylor Swift and other celebs have promoted this cat. That too has had an influence on responses to the questionnaire.

Of course, at this stage I've got to mention the fact that the Scottish shouldn't be a cat breed at all because it is inherently unhealthy due to the genetic mutation which it carries causing the cartilage of the cat to be malformed which results in the flat ears and potentially defective cartilage throughout the body. 

Breeders of the Scottish have to be incredibly careful and they can't breed Scottish Fold with Scottish Fold because if they do the result in offspring are unviable.

This is why there are many "Scottish Straights". These are Scottish Fold cats without the folded ears because half the cats that the breeders produce don't have folded ears because of the above-mentioned breeding requirements. I don't think enough people realise this.

And I don't think enough Scottish Fold owners realise that this is a very contentious cat breed which in Germany would be banned because of their torture breeding laws.

Anyway, to return to this survey. "A whopping 92% of cat owners found them [the Scottish Fold] the easiest to train compared to other breeds."

I find this last point extraordinary. How many people train their cats in the first place? Very few. I think what this means is that Scottish Fold owners found that their cat companion picked up routines and habits through informal training which happens in every cat owning home. I think this is a very subjective finding.

The survey also found that over half of British cat owners rated Ragdolls as the most affectionate ahead of Maine Coons at 46%. And in terms of personality more than 50% of Brits said that Ragdolls had the biggest personalities 46% choosing Maine Coons and 41% preferring Bengals.

There were over 2000 participants who also said that the calico cat is easiest to train with 80% of owners reporting that they responded best to instructions. The calico cat is a tortoiseshell-and-white cat and nearly always female. Once again I think this is a subjective assessment which should not be taken seriously.

Apologies for the negativity, but I am aiming for realism. If you consult scientists conducting thorough surveys on feline behaviour using questionnaires, they will agree that the results are often dubious. It seems to depend on how the questionnaire is drafted and if it allows for crosschecking and weeding out inaccurate responses. There might be some merit to that, but generally, questionnaire surveys of cat owners, such as this one, ought to be regarded with skepticism.
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P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Thursday 9 May 2024

Ginger toms are friendlier and more confident that other domestic cats

It is dangerous to generalise but I think that it is fair to say that the general consensus among cat aficionados and perhaps some experts is that ginger tom cats are or tend to be more confident and more friendly than your typical domestic cat of other coat types and colours. But the "evidence" is largely anecdotal. That means there's no hard scientific evidence behind this claim. Although if enough people say it then you could argue that that is good evidence derived from personal experience.

Ginger toms are friendlier and more confident that other domestic cats
Confident and friendly ginger tom cat at a supermarket.

RELATED: ginger cats are almost 18 times more predisposed to skin cancer than other domestic cats excluding white cats. Why? Find out my reason by clicking on the link below:


A BBC article quotes Roger Tabor a broadcaster and naturalist and an expert on cats. He said the following on this topic:
"To be a ginger cat, a female kitten has to inherit two copies of the ginger gene, but males only have to inherit one. Measurements have also shown that generally male ginger toms are heavier than most cats of other colours. Male ginger cats tend to be both taller and broader than most other moggies - apart from the North American Maine Coon."
It could be that if ginger tabby cats are a little larger than average this makes them more confident and therefore more fearless which improves the possibility that they might become "leaders" in a cat colony. It also might make them more outgoing. So there may be a scientific connection here.

From my perspective, I remember meeting a ginger tabby cat in Malta who was indeed a leader of a cat colony. A colony of cats rescued by the lady who owned the house where he lived. Her name was Martha Kane. She has passed over the rainbow bridge to meet her beloved rescue cats there but her website is still on the Internet and I refer to it out of respect for her.

On the Internet there are a lot of stories about ginger cats looking very confident and liking the attention they draw when in public places such as a ginger and white tabby called Nala who likes to sit on ticket scanning devices at a station in Stevenage in Hertfordshire. No doubt he likes the heat from the devices but he probably also likes to meet the people passing through the devices.

And there is a ginger and white tabby cat in a branch of Tesco in Norwich, beloved of the public, but the management are not quite so sure about his presence. He likes to sit on self-service checkout machines looking for a bit of attention. 

And in Ely, Cambridgeshire, another ginger tabby called Garfield became very popular in Sainsbury's. After his death a eulogy was held in the city's cathedral and a brass monument was erected in his memory.

Here are some other points provided by my assistant:

Ginger cats, also known as orange or marmalade cats, are indeed quite special! Their striking appearance and unique coloration make them stand out, but it’s their temperament that truly captivates cat lovers. Let’s explore why ginger cats are often described as friendly, sociable, and outgoing:

  • Friendly and Affectionate Nature: Ginger cats are known for their friendly and affectionate behaviour. They thrive on companionship and love engaging in playtime and interactions with their human counterparts. If you’re looking for a feline companion who enjoys cuddles and attention, a ginger cat might be a great choice!

  • Sociability: These cats tend to be more social than some other coat types. They often seek out human attention and enjoy being part of family activities. Their outgoing nature makes them wonderful companions for households with children or other pets.

  • Independence with a Dash of Charm: Beneath their sociable exterior, ginger cats also have a streak of independence. They strike a balance between seeking affection and having their own space. Their playful and curious personalities add to their charm, making them delightful pets.

Remember that individual personality and temperament can vary among cats, regardless of coat colour. While ginger cats generally exhibit these positive traits, there are always exceptions. If you’re considering adopting a ginger cat, spend time getting to know the specific cat’s personality to ensure a good match for your home and lifestyle! ๐Ÿ˜บ๐Ÿงก.


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P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Friday 15 March 2024

Which cat is more affectionate, a Maine Coon or a Ragdoll?

I've got to be a little bit irritated by the question in the title. Perhaps I shouldn't be doing this post which by the way is a cross post from another website. It's the kind of information people might like to have before adopting either a Maine Coon or a Ragdoll or perhaps another cat breed.

But the question is a little bit misguided in my view. Although I have strong views on this sort of thing. The point is this: each individual cat of whatever breed they come from has their own individual personality. It is therefore sometimes unhelpful to say all the cats of one breed have the same personality.



That said, the Ragdoll would probably be described as the more affectionate of these two breeds because they are selectively bred to be very laid-back and indoor cats almost. They are calm and gentle and affable. This translates to affection. No other breed is specifically bred to have a particular character i.e. laid back and floppy (like a ragdoll toy).

But, that said, Maine Coon cats can also be very affectionate although a person who I rely upon to describe cat breed personalities, Gloria Stephens, a cat show judge and breeder herself, and by the way a Maine Coon cat owner, says that the Maine Coon cat can be somewhat independent and not necessarily a lap cat.

This hints at the fact that the Maine Coon is a little bit more independent-minded than the Ragdoll which lends itself to believing that the Ragdoll is the more affectionate of the two.

Personally, I would go to the breeder and check out the kittens and let the kitten choose you. You will decide yourself once you interact with Maine Coon kittens and Ragdoll kittens as to which individual kitten is more affectionate for you. 

Sometimes kittens and cats are attracted to a particular person so the affection can be directed at you, the person asking this question! There is such as thing a chemistry.

There is no better way than meeting the cats. It is a 'must' really.

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P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Tuesday 5 September 2023

Choosing a second cat to get along with your resident cat?

How do you go about choosing a second cat to get along with your resident cat? Perhaps the first question is why you want to do it? I think you need to explore that and make sure that you are doing the right thing. You may want to introduce a new cat because you feel guilty that your resident cat is left alone too often. Maybe there is a different solution to that problem such as working from home more often! That's the current trend and employers are having difficulty getting employees back to work in the office! Introducing a new cat is problematic as they say.

Choosing a second cat to get along with your resident cat?
Utopia. If you achieve this you've hit the jackpot. Image in the public domain.

But if you are fixed on having two cats, how do you choose a cat which gets along with the other? And I am drawn to that question because in the newspaper today there is an interesting article which kind of answers the question. The title to the article in The Times today is, "For animal magnetism, opposites don't attract".

Similarities work best

Tanya Horowitz of the University of Colorado Boulder researched 80,000 British couples and they found that they got along better when they were similar in their characteristics, personalities and backgrounds. In short, similar individuals couple up.

"The characteristics most likely to be shared included political and religious attitudes, education levels and certain measures of IQ".

Cats - energy levels

That's talking about people and this article is about cats so there will be different ways of matching up but the underlying conclusion is that a similar character is best.

And this takes me nicely to Jackson Galaxy, the well-known American cat behaviourist. He has a section in his book Total Cat Mojo entitled "Choosing That New Cat".

He opens the section by saying, "In my opinion, the main criteria to factor in to matchmaking is to match cats by energy level. Even the cat's history should have less of an impact on your decision. I'd say that the first thing to do before even going to the shelter is to think about what personality type best complements your cat's".

He has decided that cats should be matched on their energy levels. In other words, it should be at a similar level which reinforces what I stated above regarding the Colorado study.

And he goes on to state that, "If you have a shy cat, you don't want that Dennis the Menace because he'll fray her nerves by trying to engage constantly.".

And finally, he concludes with this, "In general, you should try to complement rather than bring home a carbon copy."

I think that his words support what the scientists say about people being complimentary in a stable relationship. A similarity is going to be more successful than opposites. The old adage of opposites attract is incorrect.

Jackson doesn't think that the gender of the cat is particularly relevant in terms of matchmaking. One reason for this is that domestic cats are spayed and neutered. They are neutered individuals. This takes away some of their gender differences.

On the energy level topic, Jackson Galaxy says that it is not a good idea to introduce a kitten to a 12-year-old female cat in the expectation that the female adult cat will mother the kitten. He believes that the energy differences are too big.

Finally, it might be useful to quickly touch on what is often referred to as "expectation management". This is a reference to what the human caregiver expects of the relationship between her two cats when they first encounter each other. It would be a very rare situation where they both get along really well instantly and snuggle up to each other. However, it does happen and it's wonderful to see. And sometimes it happens between dogs and cats. There is this instant connection; it's chemistry on a feline and canine level.

But normally you will do well if a new cat and the resident cats tolerate each other initially and then learn to get along and even become friendly with each other. To enhance that prospect, it might be useful to follow Jackson's advice and think about similarities but not carbon copies.

Sunday 18 June 2023

16 most affectionate cat breeds who love a good cuddle

I'll say it strongly: the title is pure mumbo-jumbo and it comes direct from Pets Radar, a cynical website in my opinion where they regularly employ clickbait with a complete disregard for factual truth. They are cynically misleading the general public and those who want to adopt a cat for the first time. In fact, they are taking the piss out of people. That's what they are doing. They are playing with the internet. Don't listen to their advice. I'll tell you the truth.

The truth is far less prosaic. It is far less interesting. I know that people who want to adopt a cat from a cat breeder like clarity in terms of the cat's character. They want to know what they are buying. They want certainties. That's why Pets Radar provides it. But it is false.

16 most affectionate cat breeds who love a good cuddle
16 most affectionate cat breeds who love a good cuddle. A random bred cat being affectionate. The nose-to-nose cat greeting occurs frequently. It is a friendly greeting and pleasant for both parties. I think the human likes it more and feels blessed to be treated as a genuine friend by their cat. Image in the public domain.

All the individual cats of each cat breed are going to be bred to be friendly and affectionate. Above all else, domestic cats who are part of a cat breed are just like any other domestic cat.

In fact, you might find some individual cats described as moggies i.e. non-purebred cats who are friendlier than any individual cat from any cat breed. It often boils down to the nature of the individual cat.

It is disingenuous to presume that all the individual cat of one particular cat breed all have the same character in terms of their level of affection. It isn't logical. It isn't common sense.

Breeders focus on the appearance of the cat primarily. The character comes from the foundation cats and obviously they want their cats to have good, friendly and affectionate characters. They want their cats to be confident and outgoing. They do work on this but it is not a science. And of course, there is nature/nurture. The cat's experiences later on in life and in the early years of development affect their personality.

So, you can't provide a clear answer as Pets Radar think you can do. Well, they don't actually think that. As mentioned, they are cynical. They just feed information that they think people want to hear. Their objective is to get as many readers as they can and they don't care whether the information that they provide is correct or not.

I'm being harsh but rightly so in my view. It isn't just Pets Radar who do this. The newspaper The Scotsman has done it frequently as well. It's all click bait. It's all very wrong and I don't want to see people adopting cats to be so misled.

If you want to adopt - as everybody does - an affectionate purebred cat which you will have to buy at over £1000 normally, you really should visit the breeder that you have selected, talk to him or her and meet the cats. Ask some pertinent questions. Challenge the breeder. Discuss the matter in depth and then adopt the kitten that comes to you if that happens.

But you're not going to know for sure whether the cat you adopt is going to be super-affectionate or more affectionate than any other domestic cat. Just presume that your selected cat will be affectionate provided that you are affectionate towards him or her.

And that's the last point I want to make. The level of affection that a cat delivers to their caregiver is largely dependent upon the level of affection that their caregiver delivers to them. It is reciprocated. Affection is an emotion. And the emotions of a cat and how anxious or calm they feel is dependent upon the environment in which they are placed and that environment is dependent upon the work and efforts of the caregiver.

16 most affectionate cat breeds who love a good cuddle
16 most affectionate cat breeds who love a good cuddle. All domestic cats enjoy a cuddle at some time or other. It just needs to be done on their terms. Image: public domain.

In the interactions between caregiver and cat are so important. They should be gentle, calm and friendly. Owners should never yell at their cat. They should never be aggressive towards their cat. They should not be irritated by their cat if their cat behaves in a way that displeases them. And this comes down to expectation management as well.

People need to remember that the domestic cat is a domesticated wildcat. They have inherited the wild cat behaviours but of course they've adapted to the human environment. They are domesticated. But expect a domestic cat to have wildcat traits which occasionally emerge.

Be realistic, please. Don't believe everything you read on the Internet because a lot of it is tailored to please the readers rather than, like this article, tailored to be entirely factual true. The raw truth counts in my view. And in that way, we can expect better animal welfare as well because people's expectations are accurate.

Wednesday 14 June 2023

What would you do if your mostly indoor cat goes outside and doesn't want to come home?

Sometimes you might do all you can to keep your cat safe and secure. You make them a full-time indoor cat and you look after them well. Or they might be a mainly indoor cat and sometimes they go outside and return willingly.

If your cat was raised as a stray or feral cat, they might want to revert to the outdoors lifestyle because it is a lifestyle that they know. It's those early weeks - the first seven weeks of life - which are so important for a cat. What they learn during that sensitive time they carry with them all their lives.

It is actually a bigger issue than that as all domestic cats are barely domesticated it is said. Arguably their natural instinct is to live outside the artificial environment of the human home.

Cat prefers to live outside the human home
Cat prefers to live outside the human home. Image: in public domain.

If you have domesticated a feral cat or adopted a rescue cat that was a stray or feral cat, they might want to revert to the wild so to speak.

They simply might prefer to live outside the human environment which means the human home. And in my opinion, there is not much you can do about it. You may see them, talk to them and try and entice them back but they decide to stay in the 'wild'. 

You can try and keep them inside full-time and more importantly transform the inside of your home to where it becomes very cat friendly with a catio or two and some window boxes to sit in to watch the outside (cat TV). There would be a couple of climbing trees up to the ceiling and so on and so forth.

But this would be something that a typical homeowner does not want because they want their home to accommodate humans and being entirely suitable for humans. A compromise is the way forward.

However, if a cat with an urge to live outside wants to vacate a home which has been reasonably modified to accommodate cat behaviour, they'll do it no matter. 

The rather negative point that I'm making is that on some occasions domestic cats simply want to live outside and are prepared to put up with the hardship. If that is the case, there is not much you can do about it.

You may have to kiss your cat goodbye because ultimately people don't own cats. They possess them if you want to put it that way. They probably don't even possess them. They live with domestic cats and care for them but they have their own mind and you have to let them express their own behaviours in the hope and expectation that your efforts will be sufficient to keep them with you as a companion.

There is the faint possibility that another cat - provided that cat really gets along with the resident cat - might help to keep the cat at home; to 'anchor' them. That's a chancy way to proceed because often resident cats don't get along well with incoming cats. 

And a former stray cat is likely to be more territorial than is typically encountered. That might make them more difficult when asking them to get along with a new cat.

Tuesday 25 April 2023

Domestic cat personality varies as much as human personality. Discuss.

Those of us who know cats also know that they have individual personalities. We know this from personal experience more than any other way. However, we - the cat and animal lovers of the world - can now rely on hard science to back us up.

Domestic cat personality varies as much as human personality.
Domestic cats have as much personality variations as humans! Image: MikeB

Alexander Weiss of the University of Edinburgh, one of the lead authors on a study which concluded that "wild male chimpanzees scale the social ladder more successfully if they have more bullying, greedy and irritable personalities" has said that the personalities of animals vary as much as human personalities.

That is a big statement as it goes further than most other scientists in stating that animal personality is as wide ranging as human personality.

In the 1950s and 1960s the famous Jane Goodhall was accused of "the worst kind of anthropomorphism" when she said that the chimpanzees that she was studying in Gombe National Park, Tanzania had a range of personalities. Some were bolder or more fearful than others.

At the time, 70 years ago, people were far more ignorant about animal sentience than today. A lot has happened in the intervening 70 years. We are now far more aware of the intelligence and sentience of animals. The emotions that they experience. And the pain that they suffer by, for example, veterinarians. Pain management has come on leaps and bounds.

We are still learning but this is a very useful and encouraging development as it must improve animal welfare generally.

Humans can no longer regard animals as 'objects' to use and abuse. It still happens with many species such as fish which remarkably are still seen as inanimate objects by fishermen and women. They feel pain and are left to die on the deck of ships by suffocation.

The study I have referred to showed that some chimps are more sociable than others while others are introverted. Some are prone to pick fights while others are more relaxed.

The finding of the study was that male chimps with low conscientiousness and dominant personalities got on better in life. They were more successful in chimp society,

Can you see the parallel in human society? I can. It is the nasty types. The dominant alpha males who essentially at root run human society which is why there are so many flaws in it. 

Within the domestic cat world, there are the bullies and the bullied in multi-cat homes. The latter hide and are inclined to be stressed and timid. The bullies are content.

With the tiger world, scientists found that 'majestic' tigers did the best. They got the best tigresses and ate the best. They were healthier. Same thing.

Personality counts and the dominant more objectionable characters do the best as this is a world of the survival of the fittest as stated by Charles Darwin. It is a rough, tough world. For many it is an unpleasant world for this reason.

Wednesday 12 April 2023

Do domestic cats prefer women? Yes, in general, and I'll tell you why.

If you search on Google, "Do cats prefer women?" The answer comes back yes and some of the websites refer to a study. The DVM 360 website summarises the study. And when I read the summary my assessment of the reason why domestic cats tend (but not always) prefer women is because women prefer domestic cats!

Francisca Franken with Bean her adopted rescue cat who happens to be an Exotic Shorthair who nobody wanted because she was described as being feisty, a diva and ugly. I don't see ugliness in this face. Do you? Francisca certainly didn't.
Francisca Franken with Bean her adopted rescue cat who happens to be an Exotic Shorthair who nobody wanted because she was described as being feisty, a diva and ugly. I don't see ugliness in this face. Do you? Francisca certainly didn't. Image: Instagram.

Because women prefer domestic cats over dogs, they interact with cats more often and being female, they do so in a more gentle and respectful way generally (not always) than men. This doesn't apply across the board quite obviously. And this is not a black-and-white picture of domestic cats loving women and dogs loving men. It isn't as straightforward as that.

There is a big gray area. But the fact of the matter is that in a home where there is a man and woman, a married couple, and a cat and a dog, the woman will more likely approach the cat to interact with them. They do so nicely. The cat enjoys it. The cat wants to do it again. The cat therefore approaches the woman.

Because a cat-loving woman is bonded to her cat and intuitively begins to understand their body language signals and vocalisations, she responds to approaches by her cat in a sensitive and prompt way. She has developed an understanding about what her cat wants which would be a friendly interaction and some love and tenderness.

Or it might be a request for food or any other request if the cat meowed; and we know that the meow is basically a demand for attention and a request.

Reason

My assessment is that the reason why cats prefer women in general is because they are more likely to get what they want from women and the signs are that women instigate the interactions. In a study the researchers will see more interactions between women and cats than men with cats which gives the impression that cats prefer women. But the beginning of this preference is women being more likely to approach their cat. 

Favours

The study apparently found that cats seem to remember favours done for them and return those favours. For example, if owners comply with their cat's wishes to interact their cat will repay the compliment by complying with their owner's desires to interact. That isn't, in my view, a rational decision. It is simply that domestic cats enjoy interacting with a human being who cares for them and provides for them in a gentle and loving way.

And cats will do things that they enjoy just like people. Let's remind ourselves that domestic cats live in the human world. How they react to that depends on the world that humans create and whether it is cat friendly or hostile even slightly so. Domestic cats are reactive often. They are instinctively reactive.

Men

Now let's refer to men! What got me thinking about this was a video of a couple who adopted a cat, I think primarily to benefit the woman but the cat ended up referring the man. There is a very strong bond between man and cat in this video below. The cat's name is Milo and he is crazy about his human male companion. It's a love. It's as simple as that.


And this tells me really that cats don't really prefer women per se. They prefer people who interact with them in a very respectful kind and gentle, loving way. The cat then associates that person through their behaviour and body odour with pleasant experiences and go to them for more. Perfectly normal.

In the video it will be a bundle of nuanced behaviours by the man which provide signals to Milo that Milo will have a good experience when interacting. For example, he allows Milo to knead his chest through his vest. He tells the camera that it hurts like hell but he allows it to happen because he wants to do it for Milo. He understands that Milo is doing it because he relates to him as his mother.

The man is very tender towards Milo. His respectful and does all he can to please him. This is appreciated. It draws Milo back. It isn't about the gender of the human being. It is about their behaviour and an understanding of feline behaviour.

Sunday 9 April 2023

Can you predict an adult cat's personality from their behaviour as a kitten?

This is a question that is sometimes asked. I think you have to apply a bit of common sense. There would seem to be two distinct personality types (a) confident and outgoing and (b) timid, shy and retiring.

2 main character types for cats
2 main character types for cats. Image: MikeB

Cat adopts person

Sometimes people tell us their stories when adopting a cat from a shelter. They say that the cat adopted them. The same applies to dogs.

When a rescue cat at a shelter comes to the potential adopter in any one of many ways, it indicates that they are a little bit more confident than another cat who stays at the back of their cage. The one that holds back is the more reticent retiring one.

You can tell the difference between two different types of cat in terms of confidence levels. This character trait will be with them all their lives. And that's quite important because the degree of confidence compared to the degree of timidity is quite an important factor in how the other aspects of the cat's character develop.

Developing character

For instance, a confident cat is more likely to come forward, interact and to explore and to have new experiences and therefore become more rounded and more able to deal with strange and novel things.

In contrast, the timid cat will enjoy less experiences and even might hide when anything new happens. Both cat types have their advantages in my opinion. 

But the point here is that you can tell how a kitten will develop on these broad-brush aspects of character namely confidence and timidity.

Confident cats are more popular

Most people like confident cats because they interact more. But the advantages of a timid cat are often not discussed. One benefit is that because they are more retiring and content to be less active, they are more likely to enjoy the benefits of being full-time inside the home.

They are less likely to want to go out and explore. They are, therefore, less likely to come to harm. And if they are indoor/outdoor cats they are less likely to wander away far and wide if they lack confidence. Getting lost is less of an issue.

Timid is better

I think a domestic cat which is slightly timid is perhaps a better domestic cat companion than a confident one.

The trend nowadays is to keep cats indoors full-time particularly if you live in an urban environment. You don't want to live with a very boisterous active cat under those circumstances.

Bengal cat

Example, the Bengal cat is known to be pretty active, confident and lively. Some people keep them in apartments full-time. I don't think that can work.

In fact, when I lived in an apartment block a friend of mine in a nearby block was the caregiver of an F3 Bengal cat, Daniel. This cat was climbing up the walls to get out.

And when the owner took Daniel out into the gardens for a walk it was impossible to contain him. If he was off the lead he was gone. The point is that apartment living for the confident boisterous outgoing cat might be too challenging.

But apartment living for a timid retiring cat who likes to hide is a good place to be. There is the advantage.

That argument goes against the general consensus that confident cats are better cats.

Young cats killed on roads

And let's remind ourselves that the cats most likely to be killed on the roads are young, immature and confident male cats. They are the ones who like exploring and taking risks.

What I'd choose

I'd argue that the better cat to live with is a slightly retiring, slightly timid, female. That's what I would choose if I was going to adopt a cat right now. Or even better than that you might adopt a disabled cat like a blind cat because you can then keep them indoors full-time without feeling guilty as you've got to keep them indoors.

Character nuances

As to the finer nuances in character, to go back to the original argument, I think you have to wait to when they become adult to find out what they are. Which, by the way, is one reason for adopting an adult cat over a kitten despite the fact that kittens are the most popular type of cat to adopt from a shelter.

If you adopt an adult cat, you know what you're getting, particularly older ones. When you adopt a kitten, you are adopting a cat companion which you don't know that well.

Hector

There is an interesting story on social media about a woman who adopted a male cat called Hector. When he was a kitten, he was sweet and funny but when he grew up "he became a cat that no one could touch, except me. He was easily overstimulated and would attack one's hand while he was being petted."

So, her male cat went from sweet and funny to too difficult to handle. You don't quite know what you're going to get when you adopt a kitten because you will not be able to really predict their adult character except for the broad-brush aspects as mentioned

Friday 15 April 2022

Behavior of a calico cat. Do they have a specific personality?

The behavior of a calico cat is no different to that of other cats. In other words, the genes that give this cat her calico coat do not affect her character. That, in any event, is my considered view. I guess we all know that a calico cat is not a breed of cat but a description of the coat color. My view may be incorrect ๐Ÿ˜‰ - see below.

Calico cat and her offspring
Calico cat and her offspring. Photo in public domain.

"Calico" is a North American term. In the UK the calico cat is called "Tortoiseshell-and-white". As the UK name suggests the coat is a mixture of tortoiseshell fur (black and orange) and white. The white is caused by the white spotting gene or piebald gene. This gene causes the mitted or gloved cats (Snowshoe and some Ragdolls) and the van cats (Turkish Van).

 We also know that due to genetics, calico cats are virtually always female. This is because the gene that determines red (orange) coloration is carried on the X chromosome and a cat has to be XX (female) for the orange gene to take effect (I think that's correct - tell me if I am wrong, please).

Japanese people like the calico color. This is shown in their love of bicolor and calico Japanese Bobtail cats. They call this color pattern mike-cats or 'tricolour' cats.

The genetics at work are all concerned with the coat color. As far as I can see there is no further effect (beyond coat color) that determines the character of the cat. I conclude that calico cats have no specific character associated with the coat color. 

However, I may be wrong because Dr Bradshaw says that there may be a link between coat type/colour and personality in pedigree cats due to selective breeding. Breeders may create this link by choosing foundation cats which have a nice character plus the desired coat. It is an artificial connection in purebred cats due to human intervention.

RELATED: Ginger Cat Personality.

The association between the color of the fur and character of the cat is similar to our perception that red-headed people (and particularly females) have a specific and associated character e.g., fiery and volatile. This is due to their "difference" (in the way they look). People tend to be frightened of different people and attack them. 

In the same vein the calico and tortoiseshell cats are considered to have 'catitude'. We tend to stereo cats according to their coat type and colour. Sounds familiar?

They do this by making slightly derogatory remarks (this is my theory, anyway). It is untrue that red-headed people are generally fiery. If they are sometimes like that, perhaps they are being irritated by being thought of as being fiery by other people! I can't find evidence on the internet which scientifically links red hair with a specific personality traits. Wrong? Please tell me in a comment.

One point though does come to mind about the behavior of a calico cat. We know that females of the species act differently to the male. As calico cats are nearly always female it could be argued that their behavior is different to the average. Just a thought. 

 There is a tendency then for humans to assign a character to an appearance. This is the same for people's perception of cats generally. Some people hate cats because they think they "sneer" at them when it is in fact the person's own prejudice coloring the perception. The same distorted perception is found with black cats. They were thought of as witch's cats and there are still numerous superstitions surrounding black cats (good luck, bad luck you name it).

Sources:

  • Me
  • Wikipedia
  • Cat Fanciers

Friday 14 January 2022

Cat owners think that tabby cats are wilder than non-tabby cats

Mackerel tabby stray cat
Mackerel tabby stray cat. Pic in public domain.

This is an extension of the discussion as to whether a domestic cat's personality is linked to their coat colour and pattern. There's been quite a a lot of discussion about that. In an earlier post I referred to Dr. John Bradshaw who, in his book Cat Sense, did state that sometimes genes which have a say in a cat's personality are physically quite close to genes which control the cat's coat type and colour. So it appears on occasions that there may be a link between coat and personality but it seems to be rather tenuous to me and uncommon. You might like to read that article in which I discuss this. Please click on the link below:

Cat personality linked to coat colour?

In this article I am looking at the assessment of a domestic cat's personality through a particular study.

I'm going to rely on the conclusions of a study by a PhD student at the University of California, Davis. Rebecca Morgan looked at various aspects of domestic cat personality but also whether there was a link between coat colour and type and behavioural characteristics. 

She stated:

"The results of this study indicate that cats do exhibit individual differences in behavior that are quantifiable and predictable based on their owners’ subjective assessments."

There is nothing in that statement which tells us that a cat's coat type and colour, in general, is linked to their personality. It just states that domestic cats have their own personalities which we do fully understand. It does state that these differences are large enough to be measurable. 

This is also something that we understand as cat owners. And assessments of domestic cat personality are going to be subjective. When people assess domestic cat personality it seems to me that it is impossible to do it entirely objectively. You are relying upon people to look at cat behaviour and then assess the individual as to their personality. Subjectivity is going to make the process less accurate. People tend to project their ideas about personality onto their cat.

A good example is another observation by Rebecca Morgan. She said that her study produced evidence that there are higher levels of shyness in cats that have a wilder appearance. From that she means that tabby cats (agouti gene cats) are being assessed as having a wilder appearance and also being shyer (wildness and shyness go together). She also states that tabby cats with a wilder appearance do not have the sex-linked orange pigmentation. So, she's referring to brown/grey tabby cats as being wilder.

Clearly, subjectivity has entered this assessment. I'm not able to read the entire dissertation but I'm confident that people assess tabby cats as potentially wilder than non-tabby cats because the original domestic cats were domesticated wild cats. The North African wildcat has a tabby-type coat. The link is there. People are perceiving the North African wildcat in their tabby domestic cat. And from that starting point they are allowing their imaginations to decide that a tabby cat is wilder than a non-tabby cat.

Solid-coloured cats and bicolour cats look more domesticated. If they look more domesticated, they are more domesticated, is, I guess, the thought process.

Friday 8 October 2021

Author of 'Super Volcanoes' likens volcanic eruptions to cats

Robin George Andrews in his book Super Volcanoes (to be published on 19th November) says that volcanic eruptions are like cats because they possess their own distinctive personalities. The duration of their 'paroxysmal moods' can vary wildly, according to an article on The Guardian newspaper. 

Beautiful mountains of incandescent fury’. La Palma eruptions. Photo: Getty Images.

It's an interesting analogy because he could have said that volcanic eruptions are like people as people have their own distinctive personalities too. In fact, not everybody realises that domestic cats have their own personalities but everybody knows full well that people do. So why did he bring cats into the discussion when asked "How long is this eruption going to go on for?".

He appears to have been asked that question by a journalist although the article that I'm reading is unclear. They were talking about the volcanic eruptions on the Spanish island of La Palma in the Canary Islands. The average length of the eruptions are about a month, apparently, but they vary just like the personalities of cats!

I'm not sure that it is a great analogy because it starts creating a vision of spitting, angry cats! And there are enough people already who dislike cats who say that they are dangerous because they scratch and bite. But they only scratch and bite when there's a necessity for such behaviour i.e. they been provoked in some way.

ASSOCIATED PAGE: Father’s influence on his kitten’s personality

My cat has a great personality!
My cat has a great personality! Pic: Me.

But, yes, domestic cats, in their own subtle way, do have their own personalities because they are sentient beings and because they have emotions and feel pain just like people. And their personalities are formed like people as well: either through inheritance or experience. 

The latter might be more important than the former because domestic cats live in a human world which impinges very dramatically on their lives. They have to adapt to the human world. Their personalities can be moulded by the world that their human caregiver creates for them.

ASSOCIATED PAGE: A catio improves a cat’s personality

This is why in a post I wrote some years ago (link above) I stated that for a full-time indoor cat a catio makes the cat a better companion animal in terms of personality because they have more options to express their natural behaviour. The catio is a little bit of the outside brought inside. I think it's very hard for cat owners who keep their cats inside all the time to provide adequate substitutes for those cats who enjoy the indoor/outdoor life.

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.

Saturday 4 September 2021

Caring mama cat Aila cuddles her kitten Tigger

Here is a little bit about the video. The video was made on August 29, 2021 at Mission, Texas, USA. The video maker says that the mother is 18 months old and her name is Aila. She has had her first litter and is very affectionate with a sweet temperament. As a mother she is very attentive. She had five kittens in her litter of which four have been adopted and rehomed. In the video you see her laying down to get some rest. Her kitten, Tigger, began to cry for her because he wanted attention and cuddles. She responded with a soft and loving chirp and Tigger arrived. Tigger plops down to her side and she comforts and cuddles him and gives him a bath.

Caring mom cuddles her kitten
Caring mom cuddles her kitten

Here is the same video on Buzz Videos in case one of them stops working:

Note: This is a video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it.


Wednesday 18 August 2021

Is cat personality linked to coat colour and type?

People like to think that there is a connection between the appearance of someone or an animal and their personality. British people refer to tortoiseshell cats as being "naughty torties" or having "catitude". Sometimes blotched tabbies are referred to as "real homebodies". And mackerel tabbies are seen as being independent. While white patches on a cat's coat have a calming effect on the personality.

Incidentally, it is not until fairly recently that people started to understand that domestic cats have a personality. Even scientists believed that only humans had personalities. That seems hard to believe nowadays.

Is this tortie a naughty cat?
Is this tortie a naughty cat? Photo:Twitter.

I've always felt that red tabby cats have good relaxed characters. Red tabbies are also called ginger or marmalade cats. They always seem to be spoken of in glowing terms as companions with nice, affable characters. But this is all anecdotal. To turn to science, some scientists believe that the biochemistry that creates different coat colours and types also affects the cat's brain. This is called "pleiotropy". But apparently there is little evidence to support this scientific theory says Dr Bradshaw in Cat Sense.

Perhaps we are on a more solid scientific footing when we turn our attention to the purebred, pedigree cats. With pedigree cats there is a lineage so we know the parents and grandparents; in short, there is a family tree, which allows scientists to study the inheritance of the genes.

There is a relatively restricted gene pool in breeding lines which allows the temperament of a founding cat to be brought forward all the way down the breeding line. So, for example, there is a limited number of high-quality male cats within each breed who are available to produce the type of coat desired as per the breed standard. As a result, the personality of these tomcats becomes predominant within a section of all the cats in a single breed.

For example, there was a time about 20 years ago when British Shorthair cats bred in Scotland with tortoiseshell, cream and especially red coats were difficult to handle. They traced this personality trait back to a single male cat who had a difficult personality. This, incidentally, is an example of breeders breeding for appearance over personality. This founding, male cat was unsuitable, it seems.

And also pointed cats, which you will see both in the Siamese and other pedigree cats and indeed in non-pedigree cats, are likely to be vocal. This is a well-known trait for Siamese cats. The reason, it is said, is because the gene that causes the points i.e. the dark extremities to the cat's body are rare unless that cat has at least one Siamese in its recent ancestral past.

Another way in which coat type and colour can be linked to personality is when the gene that controls the coat is physically close, on the same chromosome, as the gene that affects the way the brain develops. Under these circumstances the chances that a kitten will inherit the combination of these two genes, one affecting the coat and one affecting the brain is much higher. They tend to be inherited together although it doesn't always happen.

An example would be the dominant white gene which causes a cat's coat to be devoid of pigment and therefore is white, sits next to a gene which causes both eyes to be blue and the cat to be deaf. That's why white cats are often deaf with blue eyes or they have odd-eye colour. Because the cat is deaf it affects their personality and therefore in this instance coat type and colour affects personality.

I am indebted to Dr John Bradshaw for the above. Some more...

One aspect of people attaching personality to coat type is that it may colour their opinion of their cat (excuse the pun). The point that I am getting at is that if a person believes that tortoiseshell cats are naughty and if with that belief, they mishandle their tortoiseshell cat and are scratched, the two aspects to their relationship come together which may result in the cat being relinquished to a shelter.

A study found that participants were likely to attribute friendliness to orange cats and intolerance to tricolour cats and aloofness to white and tricolour cats. White cats were seen as being more shy and calmer than cats of other colours.

The participants to the study said that they thought personality was more important than colour when selecting a cat companion. This is interesting because cat breeders of purebred cats attach more importance to appearance that personality. There appears to be a disconnect between cat breeders and their clients.

Sunday 15 August 2021

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'.

CLICK FOR PAGES ON CAT PERSONALITY TYPES

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'รชtre. 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.

Tuesday 6 April 2021

Spot the cat - Selkirk Rex sleeps belly up on shaggy rug

Cool photo of a Selkirk Rex. Shaggy on shaggy = camouflage. Clearly a nice place to live as this cat is so relaxed. It is a good sign. Cats like to sleep like because it is comfortable - obvious. But it does mean that they are confident in their surroundings as they are highly vulnerable. That is obvious too.


Here is the photo embedded from the Instagram page of gina_and_gepetto. The reason why the above photo is here is because embedded images from Instgram and Twitter such as the one below tend to disappear leaving a link to their website.

Sunday 4 April 2021

Do cat siblings get along?

Do cat siblings get along? It is an important question. On the face of it, if a person adopts two siblings from the same litter when they first adopt a cat they give each cat an instant companion for life. This can take a load of responsibilities away from the cats' owner because they can entertain themselves. 

Domestic cats are social creatures despite what you read on the Internet about them being independent and solitary. Over 10,000 years of evolution in domestication they had developed into far more social creatures which means they need companionship which in turn means that their human guardian should be around. Sometimes they can't be around because of work commitments which is when a cat companion steps up to the plate.

Lykoi cat siblings
Lykoi cat siblings. Photo: Brittney Gobble.


So the question as to whether cat siblings get along can be vitally important. And the answer is yes and no. When they are kittens and sub-adults they do get along. They entertain each other and play-fight with each other. The world is perfect if they are in the right home. But when they grow up and become individuals with better developed characters they can start to dislike each other. They may be incompatible. The relationship cools and they drift apart. Sounds familiar?

I do not have statistics on the percentage of siblings who are compatible or incompatible. But there is quite a good chance that they will be incompatible so you can't bank on adopting siblings in the expectation that they will get along for the rest of their lives. This means the policy of a double adoption of kittens from a shelter might not work.

That does not mean you can't adopt two rescue cats from a shelter who are adults. In fact there is an advantage to adopting two adult cats that need to get along because you know that they get along. The shelter staff will be able to assess this and tell you. The cats have been tried and tested. Their characters have matured so if they do get along it will likely be permanent.

I remember when I adopted my cat from an animal rescue centre, the organiser told me that cat siblings do not get along. She must have had a bad experience in adopting siblings herself. Or she had noticed that within the shelter siblings were fighting. She was partly right. Sometimes they don't, as mentioned, but they might and they often do. It's down to personalities.

But once they become adults they like to establish their home range. In the wild when kittens become adults and leave the natal nest they go out into the big wide world and establish their home range i.e. their territory. They want their piece of landscape and if they are in a home together they might be fighting over that territory. Or they might fight over some of the assets such as food and the litter tray.

And if they are incompatible they may urinate inappropriately, they may defecate inappropriately or they may spray urine and finally they may scratch furniture and walls to mark territory. So it will be a bad scene despite best intentions.

I think that the only surefire way of knowing if two cats will get along is by trying it out. That's why I think cat shelters should allow adopters to take a cat back to their home where there is a resident cat for a week to see what happens. They should be open to the possibility of the cat being returned. That should be part of the contract. It may be possible in some cat shelters. I don't know of any other way to deal with this very difficult question of multi-cat homes. Perhaps I'm being too negative because I know their are some very successful homes in which there are several cats.

And when you think about it in this instance domestic gas are being no different to human beings. How many dysfunctional families do you know? How many human siblings do you know who fight with each other because who dislike each other? It is very common for human siblings not to get on.

I myself don't get on very well with my brother and I never got along with my late sister. We were quite different characters. Hell, I didn't even get on with my parents that well either.

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