Cat behavior linked to breed, coat type, and eye color?

This article is based on a very skimpy source (study summary) which I regret but I don’t have any other options. It’s interesting nonetheless to me because a study hypothesised (to put something forward as a possible theory or idea) that a cat’s behaviour can be associated with the breed of the cat, their coat type and/or their eye colour.

Stunning black mackerel tabby male cat
Stunning black mackerel tabby male cat. Photo in public domain.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

I think the scientists who hypothesised this were being very adventurous except for the very plausible link between breed and behaviour. That has to be accepted because some breeds are very much linked a certain type of behaviour e.g., the Ragdoll.

But eye colour cannot be linked to behaviour I would have thought. Anyway, they asked the 574 owners of purebred cats to complete a well-known questionnaire called the Feline Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire.

I went to a website managed by the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Department and tried to access the questionnaire on that website but failed. The reason why I wanted to have a look at this often-used questionnaire is because I don’t think it is working very well. Clearly it is based upon the subjective views of cat owners about their cats’ behaviour. No matter how hard cat owners try to be objective about their cat’s behaviour I think that they are going to be subjective and make mistakes.

The scientists came up with the following conclusions. They first said that most of the associations between a cat’s behaviour occurred in relation to different cat breeds. In other words, if there were differences in behaviour which could be assessed accurately those differences depended upon the cat’s breed. That makes sense.

However, they also stated that there were some behavioural differences that were independent of the cat’s breed and these were as follows:

An increased level of cat aggression in agouti cats. Agouti cats are those with a tabby coat. Comment: I think this assessment by the participants comes about because they perceive a tabby cat is being more a wildcat than a non-tabby cat. The reason for this is because the wildcat ancestor of the domestic cat has a tabby coat. The tabby cat looks wilder, at least potentially.

RELATED: Cat owners think that tabby cats are wilder than non-tabby cats.

They also decided that piebald cats had a decreased stranger-directed aggression. These are domestic cats with a coat containing white fur and another colour; often bicolour cats such as black-and-white cats. The piebald gene is also called the white spotting gene. Comment: I cannot think of any reason why this should be the case. I tend to believe that this is an owner perception which I feel might be inaccurate.

Tonkinese kittens
Tonkinese kittens. Photo copyright Helmi Flick

And thirdly, they concluded that Siamese and Tonkinese cats had an increased likelihood of separation anxiety. They actually refer to these two breeds as “Siamese and Tonkinese patterned cats”. In that statement they are emphasising that they are looking at the coat pattern rather than the breed which I think is incorrect because the coat is only found on these breeds and it is the breed which dictates the behaviour.

Nonetheless, they are saying, on my understanding, that these two cat breeds are more likely to suffer from separation anxiety and therefore they are either more connected to their owner than other cats or they are more inherently anxious than other breeds. I would argue that it is the former. We know that the Siamese is a very loyal cat that tends to stick to their owner.

The study referred to is: Behavioral associations with breed, coat type, and eye color in single-breed cats on Science Direct.

Below are some articles on Siamese cats.

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