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Fri Mar 27 03:56:14 SAST 2015

Cat behaviour said to be all in the breeding

©The Sunday Telegraph | 03 December, 2012 00:02
A sand kitten
Image by: NIR ELIAS / REUTERS

By reputation, they are aloof and solitary and display affection grudgingly and judiciously.

But this perception of cats is unfair: though many are surly, this is attributable to their breed, some varieties being far more genial than others.

A study has ranked breeds of cats on their friendliness.

Most unfriendly are non-pedigree, crossbred "moggies" - domestic short-haired cats. They scored poorly for interactions with humans, being most likely to ignore their owners and run away from strangers.

Pedigreed cats were found to be more amiable. Friendliest of all is the hairless sphynx cat, which was happy to visit the vet and be bathed. Researchers believed the sphynx's affectionate nature might be due to its reliance on humans to keep warm.

The study suggested that the greater affability of pedigree cats is because breeders tend to leave kittens with their mothers for longer, during a crucial period in their development, when they are getting used to humans. It could also result from selecting friendlier cats for breeding.

The study, published in the Journal of Veterinary Behaviour, involved 129 cats of 14 breeds, and crossbreeds. The cats ranged from kittens to seniors more than 20 years old; some lived in homes with children and other animals, others with just their owner. The cats were a mix of males and females, some neutered and some not.

The sphynx scored an average of 22.83 on the friendliness index, compared with 18.93 for the domestic short-hair.

Owners were given four words to describe their pet.

Pedigrees were "clingy" or "friendly", and non-pedigrees "friendly" or "independent".

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