People in business sometimes undergo assertiveness training because it makes them better employees. We value assertiveness in life generally provided it is coupled with a responsible and moral attitude.
Do we value assertiveness in cat companions? Given a choice, do you prefer an assertive cat or a cat who is shyer and less demanding?
What are the Signs of Cat Assertiveness?
I have lived with both shy and assertive cats. I would call my current cat, Charlie, assertive. Interestingly he is also a little shy but in general he is not slow is coming forward. He makes sure you know he is there. When he wants something he asks with a forceful voice. He will go on asking and the volume goes up if there is a delay in responding to his request.
He also stands up on his back legs and holds it for a long time. This gives him height. He becomes more noticeable and more on a par with humans.
For me, a loud voice backed up by a confident approach are signs of assertiveness. A domestic cat will always have to ask his human caretaker for the basic necessities of life. In that way a cat will always be submissive to a person. The human/cat relationship blunts assertiveness in cats.
Shy or Meek Cats
Shy or timid cats are less visible to a person who is busy and less connected to his or her cats. Sometimes cats can become somewhat invisible. They can blend into the background and almost become part of the furniture if they are shy and retiring and live with a person who is preoccupied with other things. This is not good for the cat. Illnesses and behavior problems can be missed by the owner.
Assertive cats are more “in your face”. They are more part of the family or demand to be part of the family. You can’t ignore them. This gives them a higher profile which in turn I believe is better for the cat. The owner is more likely to respond to food and health issues more promptly.
Assertive Cat Types and Breeds
The Siamese type cats (moggies with some Siamese) and purebred Siamese are classic assertive cats or at least are more likely to be assertive. They are loyal, like people and above all like to voice their opinion loudly. There are lots of cat breeds that are associated wit the Siamese including the Oriental Shorthair and Balinese to name two.
I am told that the Sphynx can be louder than a Siamese! The Sphynx is also said, anecdotally, to be the smartest purebred pedigree cat so I conclude that this hairless cat is very assertive.
Of course we cannot generalize. Individual cats of a breed will be shy even if overall the cats of a certain breed are said to be assertive.
There will be many moggie cats that are absolutely randomly bred who will be assertive. It is an individual cat character thing. Ginger toms are liable to be assertive. Male cats are liable to be more assertive than females. We know that in the wild, male wildcats have much larger home ranges than females who tend to stick close to the natal area (mother’s home range).
Which is Better: Assertive or Shy?
Well, for me both have their attractions. The answer might be neither. The best domestic cat is the well rounded cat with a balanced personality. Assertive cats can be a little bit over demanding for some cat caretakers. It would seem that for a lot of people the shyer and more gentle female cat is preferable. They roam less if allowed outside so are less likely to get into trouble. They are probably easier to care for.
In some ways the retiring female cat fits in better to modern human life when people are out a lot. If a cat is less assertive they are more accepting which might translate to being less likely to suffer stresses.
There may be a gender factor in cat choice. Women may prefer male cats and vice versa. In which case a woman may prefer a more assertive cat. However, I don’t feel that this is a big issue. It may be a slight bias.