Friendliest Domestic Cats

Although most people choose a cat on appearance, in the long term a cat’s character is more important. The element of a cat’s character that is the most important is friendliness. You want a cat companion, not a cat enemy. This though is a complicated issue and the newspapers tend to oversimplify things to the point where they are downright misleading.

That said, it is nice to see some focus on a cat’s character in the press. There should be a lot more of it. I would like the cat associations to put more effort into promoting cat character.

Most Friendly Domestic Cat

Friendliest Domestic Cat. Just having fun in this collage. The Sphynx is actually a really nice cat. My apologies for losing credits for these photos except the cat in the center with speech bubble. That pic is by dracorubio (Flickr). Please tell me if you are the photographer of one of the others.

The Friendliest

So, which cats are the friendliest? According to a study, that honor goes to the Sphynx purebred cat breed. The Sphynx is also considered to be the most intelligent in a previous study. On that basis, this is an outstanding cat. You wouldn’t have guessed that would you? But be careful with studies. Don’t depend on them.

The study, conducted in Paris France and managed by Dr Marie Abitbol, concluded that purebred, pedigree cats are in general more friendly than moggies. Moggies are random bred cats. In the West, purebred cats are also pedigree cats. ‘Pedigree” means the cat has a family tree which records the parents to great-great grand parents of the cat in question. All the cats in the family tree will comply with cat association requirements and usually will be purebred cats themselves.

The sample size of the study at 129 is small. The study was based on a questionnaire as I understand it. The top cats in the study are as follows:

Selective Breeding

The reason why purebred cats are more friendly is because in the breeding process the breeder selects the best cats from which to breed. The “best cats” are both the best looking cats and the cats with the best personality. I suspect, too, that breeders of Sphynx cats select cats that are athletic because the Sphynx cats that I have seen have long monkey-like toes and behave like cat-monkeys. That are reminescent of the margay wild cat, which is also acrobatic.

Socialization

Another reason why pedigree cats are friendly, it is suggested, is because they are better socialized than moggies. Breeders make an effort to ensure that their cats are well socialized. They are in business, after all.

This means placing the kittens in a human family environment with people and other pets making noise and being active. Kittens need to get used to that so when they are given their new home they settle in fast and interact well with their new human companion.

By contrast, some moggies will be poorly socialised. A lot of moggies are the result of irresponsible cat caretaking (unplanned births) so it would be no surprise to me if these cats have no planned socialization behind them. Whether they are socialized or not is a matter of pot luck.

Sphynx Cat Appearance

What is interesting is that the Sphynx cat can look unfriendly. The folds of bare skin and fierce, bony face give a false impression. They have large, solid, rotund stomachs which look a bit odd too. Although the Sphynx looks fragile they are anything but. There is one notable consideration; they have no protection for their skin so they could get sunburned when going outside. They probably feel the cold too. They are not hypoallergenic.

Biggest Pool of Friendly Cats

What the study appears not to have addressed sufficiently is that character is made up of genetics and environmental factors (nature, nuture) and there will be many moggies that have the perfect character and which are extremely friendly. It is down to individual cats and their character. There are obviously far more friendly moggies in the world than purebred cats because purebred cats are relatively rare.

As it is not difficult to assess a cat’s personality when selecting a cat for adoption the implication that the Sphynx should be selected as a cat companion over moggies does not really hold water.

Lovable Sphynx Cat

All that said, I like the Sphynx cat. They look strange and a bit scary sometimes. It is ironic that their characters are almost the opposite to the way they look. I have met one at a cat show and he genuinely was adorable and very, very smart.

You get a bonus with a Sphynx cat: they are great to touch, like a hot water bottle covered with chamois (shammy) leather.


Comments

Friendliest Domestic Cats — 11 Comments

  1. Odly enough I don’t necessarily find Sphynx cats to look unfriendly. Without all that fur they have very expressive faces and humans tend to anthropomorphisize (cant spell that, sorry) and think they are grouchy or grumpy looking. But humans always take what is infact neither here nor there to look more negative than positive. I love the way Sphynx cats look, I think if they are happy, or sad – or whatever, you can really see it once you get past anthropomor…..ing them. I’d just love to live with one of these cats and get to know him or her :)

    I think the study is poor at best because its a low number of subjects and the only way you could really come up with a vaguely real answer is to take cats who have all been brought up in the exact same manner, with alot of attention and care from when they are born. Maybe then you could start comparing them based on their having had the same life experience and relationship with humans. Personally I have always found tabby cats, especially boys, but all tabbys to be the most friendly. Ironically in view of this study. This study was reported in the Swiss newspaper actually and they said the ‘tigerli’ (that literally means ‘little tiger’, so the tabby) is the least friendly. Thats how they put it in their own report on the study – after which they talked about purebred and mixed ….etc. I thought it was interesting that they associate tigerli, or tabby, as meaning mixed breed when infact purebred cats are often tabbies. Just a thought.

    • I agree “studies” are often misleading especially questionnaires. Even hard science style studies can come to the wrong conclusions. That said the Sphynx has a bit of a reputation, albeit anecdotal. Most moggies are friendly, period, full stop. What I do like about the study is that at least people are talking about cat personality. We need more of this and less on appearance.

  2. Hi Michael,

    You know I had to participate in this one.

    Cool to read a post involving a Sphynx :)

    First – interesting study.

    But as mentioned, 129 is way too small of a number for a test group. In my mind it would have to be thousands studied from several countries to even qualify as a cat friendliness study.

    Cool that someone thinks the Sphynx is the friendliest and smartest cat, but I can tell you from personal experience that all breeds have friendly and intelligent individuals.

    You brought up a very interesting point that wouldn’t occur to everyone – many breeders are careful about doing a good job socializing their kittens so that they can have a good reputation for branding purposes.

    Marc – glad you dig their look. I think they’re beautiful.

    Michael – hairless cats aren’t hypoallergenic per se, but if you bathe them every week and wipe them down once or twice in between, they are relatively hypoallergenic. My husband’s brother is allergic to cats but he can handle our hairless cats without having a reaction. You’re right – they are nice to touch, they do get cold, and are vulnerable to sunburn (and skin cancer). Ours wear cat shirts and sweaters and love to crawl under the covers with us at night and frequently sit on our lap during the day. We never bring them out in direct sunlight.

    They require additional weekly grooming as well – eyes, ears, claws.

    I love giving them weekly baths but not everyone would enjoy that. They shower with me too and love it.

    =^-^= Hairless Cat Girl =^-^=

    • When I wrote this I forgot you are a hairless cat expert! Scary. I want you to write me an article on the Ukrainian Levkoy. You can link to your site and I’ll pay you if you like. Otherwise I’ll do it. That’s a threat ;)

    • More like funky Sphynx collage. I couldn’t resist making this cat look the opposite to friendly. Just because I am a bit of a rebel ;) Thanks though for calling it “cool”.

    • Couldn’t resist. When I read about the study my first thought was Dirty Harry ;) because I remembered this bunch of photos of Sphynx cats that I had published years ago. They do have that Dirty Harry make my day look. They even look a bit like Clint Eastwood….

  3. Pingback: Should I adapt a bold or timid shelter cat? | Pictures of Cats

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