Cool cats rule, but being aloof comes down to a lack of breeding
Amiable … the hairless sphynx. Photo: Justin McManus
LONDON: By reputation, they are aloof and solitary creatures, only displaying affection grudgingly and judiciously.
But this popular perception of cats turns out to be unfair. While many are surly, this comes down to their breed. Others are far more genial.
A study has ranked breeds according to friendliness, from the most affectionate to the least.
Those identified as the most unfriendly are non-pedigree, crossbred moggies, also known as domestic short-haired cats. They score poor marks for their interactions with humans, being the most likely to ignore their owners and to run away from strangers.
Pedigrees are notably more amiable, and the friendliest of all is the hairless sphynx, which is even happy to visit the vet and be bathed. The researchers believe the sphynx's affectionate nature may be due to its reliance on humans to keep warm.
The study also suggests that the greater affability of pedigrees comes about because breeders tend to leave the kittens with their mothers for longer. It may also be the result of selecting more friendly cats for breeding.
The study, published in the Journal of Veterinary Behaviour, involved 129 cats from 14 breeds, as well as crossbreeds. The cats ranged from kittens to animals more than 20 years old.
Some lived in homes with children and other animals, and others with just their owners. The cats were a mix of males and females, with some neutered and some not.
Owners were asked a series of questions, ranging from how their cat reacted when they entered a room, how often it rubbed up against them, whether it appeared to avoid them, and how it behaved around strangers and vets. Each cat was given a ''friendliness score'' according to the responses.
The sphynx scored an average of 22.83, compared with 18.93 for the domestic short-haired. Because the numbers of other breeds in the survey were generally small, they were grouped together to score an average for pedigrees of 20.40.
In cases where there were more than just a handful of a particular breed, they were always found to be friendlier than moggies. Maine coons and Persians, for instance, scored 20.76 and 20.38. Other pedigrees to score highly were Birmans, Somalis, Siamese, Russian blues and exotic shorthairs.