All domestic cats should be selectively breed. Discuss.

You can categorise domestic cats two ways: purebred and random bred. The default category is random bred. There are far more random bred cats than there are purebred cats. Random bred cats procreate when not sterilised under the process of natural selection. This means that the cats decide with whom to mate. In the UK around 90% are sterilized. But in the past the percentage was lower.

During the past 10,000 years of wildcat domestication the domestic cat has evolved through natural selection to be what it is today. Some say the domestic cat is barely domesticated. There is a large wild element to the family cat. They can revert to being a wildcat quite quickly. They go through the cat flap and flick a switch in their brains. The wild component comes to the fore.

Our desired cat
Our desired cat. Image: MikeB
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Over the past 50 years or so humans have changed their expectations regarding cat behavior. Because of environmental concerns brought about by climate change and because of the extra pressures placed upon wildlife by relentlessly increasing human populations there is also a greater awareness of wildlife conservation.

A much higher percentage of people feel a need to protect wildlife. The innate character of the naturally selected domestic cat does not fit well into that modern conservation, thought process. This is very apparent in Australia for instance where there is a lot of pressure from the authorities to keep cats inside the home all the time.

The domestic cat cannot meet the modern expectations of humankind. They are too wild at heart. We could just wait and let natural selection take its course as over hundreds or thousands of years the cat will become more domesticated, more docile and less inclined to hunt as it fits in with modern human life particularly if the current trend for full-time indoor living expands and speeds up which it will.

It’ll take too long for the domestic cat on the current path to be able to meet the expectations of humans to have a disinterest in hunting.

This leads to the logical conclusion that all domestic cats should be selectively bred. In this way only foundation cats that were particularly docile and bad hunters could be selected for breeding. Over the forthcoming generations this would lead to non-hunting domestic cats who could be let outside without any fear that they’d attack wildlife. A utopian future for Australians.

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In other words, we need to take selective breeding (artificial selection) of purebred cats and use those methods for domestic cats. As it happens most purebred cat breeders selectively breed for appearance and not primarily for character because they know that buyers are more interested in appearance than any other attribute. Plus, the breed standard only focuses on appearance.

But you can selectively breed for character and mould it over generations. But natural selection would not work fast enough to arrive at the kind of domestic cat that modern humankind demands; a true fur baby with a disinterest in hunting and highly passive but interactive.

Separately but on an associated topic, the well-established M.O. of sterilising domestic and feral cats works against the goal referred to in the paragraph above. This is because the wildest feral cats escape sterilisation. They can procreate and create more wild feral cats. The docile cats best suited to living with humans are sterilised. They cannot create more of the same: the kind of cat we demand and which meets our expectations.

We are therefore moving in the wrong direction.

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