Is Your Cat Assertive?

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?

Assertive Cat

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.

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Comments

Is Your Cat Assertive? — 4 Comments

  1. In short, Lilly is, Gigi is and Molly is not. Lilly always has been. First meows, then bites if you don’t comply. The bites start of light but get harder til she hurts you. Its a guaranteed system for results. She gets what she wants. Usually its because she wants to play. Rarely, but about 2 or 3 times a month she will start when I am in bed or at some quiet time. It works, I play :). Gigi has learnt to meow and loudly and she gets what she wants. Usually she wants her shredded old catnip mousey which I have reglued together so many times. She loves it. I store it in catnip. She wants it when I get home from work these days and will jump up on the chest of drawers next to where they are and let out a big meow like she never does otherwise – if I don’t get to the mousey giving quickly enough after getting home. Each day she wants it sooner and sooner. Pretty soon it will be the first thing I do. She also demand me to retrieve it when lost under the couch. She is very assertive.

    Molly is not. Well. She will run in the kitchen hoping I will follow. Its hard to say if she is not actually simply because I am sensitive to her language. Others might say she is unassertive. Maybe if I didn’t pay attention to her method of suggestion then she would become more vocally assertive or something. But she is the more quiet (when not in heat) and shy of the 3. At least thats how it would seem to a stranger or on the surface. Actually she is just less direct but I understand her. She suggests with her actions. Its very sweet. She jumps up on the bath ledge for her hairball paste every morning. And she is Red’s little sister so she has, as did he, a penchant for trying anything and everything to eat. She loves to nibble new things. Red and her are the same cat the way they do that. She comes and tells me she wants to try something. She is just not as assertive in the traditional sense of demanding and taking. She is more gentle and perhaps polite. Lilly will swipe food off my plate. Molly will stand by and show alot of interest and I always let her sniff or try. But to conclude – although all of them ask and recieve and get things they want, I would say Molly is the less or non assertive of the 3 by way of her method and lack of insistence. She doesn’t insist. She is wonderful. Michael is right, each has it’s charm. While the other 2 demand or ask vocally and in actions. Also very sweet. Especially when Gigi puts on a full blown meow instead of 20 chirps. Its almost shockingly adorable and it makes the point that she REALLY wants her mousey and right NOW, not in another 5 minutes. Interesting article. These kinds of articles make us think about cat behaviour in the kind of detail that will lead to good understanding and care taking.

    • You have cats that show a range of assertiveness behavior, which is great. You can make comparisons. Perhaps it is more about confidence. They say that the best kind of cat is a confident cat. This is because they are more interactive and suffer less stresses and therefore are likely to be healthier. In short they are better survivors. Not that they have to do much surviving in the domestic environment.

      Some people won’t get along with a confident, assertive and demanding cat because they like to be the boss and think of the cat as “down there”, a companion to do as she or he is told. Some cats don’t play that game and treat humans as equals. I love that but it can cause arguments. I argue with Charlie sometimes when he shouts at me for something and I am busy.

      When a cat has character and confidence there will be moments when there is a replica of the typical human-to-human argument.

      I wish you and your family a Happy Christmas day.

  2. Doesn’t all this take your mind off the rest of your day? I can’t help but smile reading your posts like this. A day in a life! I can so relate.

    Marvin is assertive, but not demanding at all. His loud voice usually rules! So he is almost apologetic about the attention he is getting.

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