“Active Cat” – Inherited, Learned or Stimulated?

Active cat breeds
Active cat breeds.Photos: main by Jamie In Bytown. Sphynx by The Pug Father.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Is there such a thing as an active cat breed? Can you group cats into active and inactive? I am not sure that you can.

Although cat breed personality descriptions are notoriously variable, vague and imprecise, the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) describes some of its registered breeds as “active” or “energetic”. Some people prefer an active cat. They can maximize interactions between themselves and their cat.

Before I present the CFA list, I’d like to discuss the word “active” with respect to cats. The CFA state that some cat breeds are more active than others; implying that a cat’s energy and the desire to use it is inherited. In other words, whether a cat is active or inactive is hard wired in the cat’s DNA. But is it? I believe all cats, pedigree or otherwise have similar amounts of energy and desires to be active.

As for people, some are said to have more energy than others. However, I say that these people are simply more driven, disciplined and ambitious than others. They use their energy more often but we all have similar amounts of energy (all other factors being equal).

With respect to cats, a common sense point worth making is that activity levels are dependent on the proper stimuli in the household. This is about creating a stimulating enriched environment – making sure a cat has another cat, a human or countless other reasons to interact to demonstrate his energy. Good health is another obvious consideration. An ill cat will be lethargic and possibly depressed. Depression saps motivation and energy. Is the Persian cat’s famous docility partly because of inherited health issues? Also, an old formerly active cat, will normally become considerable less active.

Another factor that dictates whether a cat is active or not is socialization. What kind of early life did a cat have? If a cat is well socialized he should be confident. Confidence results in an outgoing personality. This leads to a cat being more interactive which in turn makes him more active. In contrast, a poorly socialized cat might be anxious and defensive. Defensiveness results in relative inactivity; hiding, getting out of the way in a land of giants (people). My argument is that socialization has an impact on whether a cat is active or not.

There is one inherited characteristic that affects activity levels provided there is a stimulus: cat intelligence. The first generation wild cat hybrids are considered to be more intelligent because their father is a wild cat and wild cat species are considered to more intelligent than domestic cats because life is more challenging.

Most moggies  – random bred or freeborn cats – are active if healthy and stimulated.  You can tell, therefore, that to describe a cat breed or a group of cats as “active” is slightly foolhardy as a cat’s personality various from individual cat to individual cat irrespective of the breed.

Nonetheless here are the CFA’s active cat breeds…

  1. Abyssinian
  2. American Curl
  3. Balinese
  4. Javanese
  5. Colorpoint Shorthair
  6. Cornish Rex
  7. Egyptian Mau
  8. Japanese Bobtail
  9. Korat
  10. LaPerm
  11. Norwegian Forest Cat
  12. Ocicat
  13. Oriental
  14. Siamese
  15. Somali
  16. Sphynx

Overall, there were 41 cat breeds listed on CFA’s cat personality page. Therefore 39% are described by them as active or energetic. Remember that the CFA does not register wild cat hybrid breeds which are active.

At least five of these are breeds based on the Siamese. I’d choose the Siamese or the Sphynx if you fancied adopting an energetic, active cat from a recognized cat breed based on this list.

There are lots of pages on PoC that show top quality photographs of these cat breeds. The best way to find them is to use the custom search box above this post or start here.

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

6 thoughts on ““Active Cat” – Inherited, Learned or Stimulated?”

  1. I was wondering if you could send info. and pictures of the Sphinx breed. Thank you for your time. btw loved your write up

  2. I’m not learned enough on breeds to say that some are more active than others. I have always had random cats but know that some are, definitely, more active than others. It’s a mystery why that is. I believe, though, that feral beginnings play a part. I, also, agree with Marc about black cats being more active.
    I have a black boy that was a feral kitten and now domesticated (we won’t say his name because he is finally napping) that would make a normal person want to set themselves on fire. Thank goodness I’m not normal.
    The running, leaping, launching, sliding, playing tightrope on top of curtain rods would make anyone wonder why one of us isn’t on drugs.
    He’s brilliant and amazing. He, truly, loves life!

    1. Thanks Dee. The point I am making is that individual cats can be more active than other individual cats. But I don’t believe that we can say that a group of cats (breed of cat type) are more active than others. There are two many other variables and there is no scientific basis for stating that one breed more active than the next.

  3. I have always thought black cats are the most active – not that they are a breed as per this article. I have always heard that Abyssinians are very active but I don’t honestly know about this sort of thing.

    1. Abyssinians are said to be active but to be honest it is more “marketing” than reality in my opinion. There are many other factors that control activity levels as discussed in the article.

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