by Elisa Black-Taylor
Alto is a bully
I've been asked by Michael to do an in-depth article describing cat personalities based on my rescue experience. There are many out there who shun the idea of a cat having a personality. That's simply untrue. The easiest (and least confusing) way for me to record my experiences is to group my cats not only by color, but by length of their fur. Please feel free to share your cats personality traits at the end of this article.
I'll group my cats into proactive and reactive the way Michael did in his previous article.
THE GOLD TABBIES
My gold tabbies, all male, are the fierce proactive leaders. Even as a kitten, little Garfield showed a fierce desire to protect his food. I recently read that gold tabbies are protective to the point of fighting over their meals. This is definitely true at home. Garfield has to take his raw treats in a cage so as not to steal every bite from the other cats. And Alto, our FIV+ boy, is too aggressive to live with most of the other cats. He has a room to himself. The spayed females and the smaller neutered males get along fine with him. We can't put him with any cat as large as he is. He's our second largest cat next to Brinkley. The gold tabbies I've known are proactive and I really hate to say this, but they seem to enjoy fighting. They are super friendly towards their people, but very territorial.
THE GRAY SHORTHAIR TABBIES
Our gray short-haired tabbies are sweet intelligent lap cats. Even Renny the feral knows his name and come when called. They are the acrobats who climb to the top of things and are constantly on the go. Their health appears better than the other cats. Not as many snottsnboogers from these guys. Lucky is a light gray male who chooses to sleep with me. Brinkley, our largest cat who is FIV+ is a love bug who has also taken to my bed at night. None of my gray short-haired tabbies are aggressive at all. They are proactive and reactive.
THE SHORTHAIR CALICOS
These cats have a mind of their own. Lola was our first cat and a born mouser. She picks and chooses her time for being petted and held. The same holds true for Gizzy, the wildest cat we ever rescued. We've found these calicos are curious, but at the same time independent and could probably go for a longer period alone without getting upset. They greet a new cat with suspicion and sometimes a hiss or slap. Then they forget about the new cat. They are proactive and quite SNEAKY! Gizzy and Lola each know their name. That's not saying they come when called...
THE LONGHAIR CATS
Regardless of color, our long-haired cats (many are a Maine Coon mix) are lazy and laid back. They prefer to find a quiet spot to nap and adapt well to any changes in the household. When a new cat arrives, the longhairs will go over and say hello then go on about their business. They make for clumsy mousers. IF they even bother to get up to take part in a mouse hunt. Their favorite past time is lounging on the cat tree. I find myself petting the long-haired cats more, simply because they jump into my lap asking for a massage. They enjoy curling up in groups to sleep. More than curling up together, they love to rub all over Laura or me. Whoever has an available lap. Most don't respond to their name, even after months with us. Furby and Midnight are the exception to this. They may not come when called, but the do look up and acknowledge they heard their name. They are reactive.
Our deaf girl Annabelle has been the most surprising of our rescues. She is a born acrobat and climbs on anything she can find. The higher the better. She is highly intelligent and we've taught us hand signals. She's happiest curled up right in the middle of the action and loves to chase a laser light. She can jump a good five feet in the air. She likes to make her own fun, but knows how to curl up into a ball and ignore the world around her. I never would have thought she'd be as friendly as she is. She's both proactive and reactive.
Cocoa is toothless and declawed on all four paws. I'm not sure you'd call that a "handicap." Cocoa is one of the few cats who knows his name and comes when called. He's a Snowshoe mix, perhaps part Siamese. He had little personality when he was rescued. Now he likes to "talk" and thinks he should be head cat. He likes to lay beside me on the couch and has a great viper imitation to display to anyone trying to come between us. He's more reactive as he's adjusted well. He'll never really like other cats as much as the long-haired cats like each other.
And of course we can't forget Furby. He's got a lot of Maine Coon in him. He's both proactive and reactive. He's nosy to the point of being a danger to himself. If there's a way for him to get stuck in, knock over or fall off of something, he's an expert. He appears to know the rescue "Furbys Halfway House" is named after him and he has to make his rounds several times a day. He doesn't react unless a new cat decides to take a paw swipe at him. At this time, he'll look at said cat like "don't you know who I am? I'M in charge so cut it out!" Most of the cats don't mess with Furby. He sleeps where he wants to and enjoys washing up the younger cats. His friends are Lola and Lucky. Lola was his adopted mama when we first found him and Lucky came from our second rescue. If things get to be too much for him in the high traffic areas, Furby can be found napping on the washer or dryer.
Sealy is a solid black short hair and the first seriously injured cat we've rescued. I expected him to be in pain and not do much. He's been with us three weeks now. Almost four. And his car fan blade accident happened over a month ago. Sealy is terrified. He doesn't hiss or spit or growl at us. He has yet to even meow at us. He was poked and stuck seven times on his first vet visit and never made a sound. He just lay there. This is how he earned the nickname "Prince Charming."
He jumps or cowers anytime Laura or I reach into his cage to take him out for a bedding change. I don't know if this is because he's feral or he remembers we had to give him subQ fluids. He was stuck with a needle twice a day for the first week he was with us. He jumped out of Laura's arms a few days ago and showed her he can still run. He's living in a cage until his injury scabs over and then he'll have free run of the house.
Most of the black short-haired cats I've known have been very proactive. This may be true of our Prince Charming, as he was almost killed by being under the hood of a car. He's one cat we'll have to be very watchful about sneaking out. Short-haired black cats tend to be super intelligent and we don't want to lose him. Especially since he doesn't like us very much yet.
It's very hard to deal with a cat we feel fears us. Not personally, you understand. He probably fears all humans. I don't even want to know the life he led before his accident. It must have been bad for him to have weighed only 5.5 pounds.
A lot of people ask me who my favorite is. The answer to that question is simple. My favorite cat is the one in my lap who's getting a "human servant" massage.
Readers, are your cats laid back or into everything? Do you think this has anything to do with breed or just an individual cat trait?