Although most people choose a cat on appearance, in the long term a cat’s character is more important. The element of a cat’s character that is the most important is friendliness. You want a cat companion, not a cat enemy. This though is a complicated issue and the newspapers tend to oversimplify things to the point where they are downright misleading. That said, it is nice to see some focus on a cat’s character in the press. There should be a lot more of it. I would like the cat associations to put more effort into promoting cat character through selective breeding. Note: this page was first published in 2012. It has been upgraded a little and republished on Sept 3rd, 2022.
In this article I have to focus on the cat breeds because studies are based on cat breeds. However, there has to be a recognition that the friendliness factor of cats comes down to individual cats, random bred and purebred. There are many influencing factors other than selective breeding which ensures that ‘friendly genes’ are inherited. So, there are many non-purebred cats who are very friendly. You’ll just have to meet them and assess them for yourself.
Below is another page on this topic with a slightly different conclusion as there will be because this is not a science. That, too, looks at the cat breeds.
So, which cats are the friendliest? According to a study, that honor goes to the Sphynx purebred cat breed. The Sphynx is also considered to be the most intelligent in a previous study. On that basis, this is an outstanding cat. You wouldn’t have guessed that would you? But be careful with studies. Don’t depend on them.
The study, conducted in Paris France and managed by Dr Marie Abitbol, concluded that purebred, pedigree cats are in general more friendly than moggies. Moggies are random bred cats. In the West, purebred cats are also pedigree cats. ‘Pedigree” means the cat has a family tree which records the parents to great-great grandparents of the cat in question. All the cats in the family tree will comply with cat association requirements and usually will be purebred cats themselves.
The sample size of the study at 129 is small. The study was based on a questionnaire as I understand it. The top cats in the study are as follows:
The reason why purebred cats are more friendly is because in the breeding process the breeder selects the best cats from which to breed. The “best cats” are both the best looking cats and the cats with the best personality. I suspect, too, that breeders of Sphynx cats select cats that are athletic because the Sphynx cats that I have seen have long monkey-like toes and behave like cat-monkeys. That are reminescent of the margay wild cat, which is also acrobatic.
Another reason why pedigree cats are friendly, it is suggested, is because they are better socialized than moggies. Breeders make an effort to ensure that their cats are well socialized. They are in business, after all.
This means placing the kittens in a human family environment with people and other pets making noise and being active. Kittens need to get used to that so when they are given their new home they settle in fast and interact well with their new human companion.
By contrast, some moggies will be poorly socialised. A lot of moggies are the result of irresponsible cat caretaking (unplanned births) so it would be no surprise to me if these cats have no planned socialization behind them. Whether they are socialized or not is a matter of pot luck.
Sphynx Cat Appearance
What is interesting is that the Sphynx cat can look unfriendly. The folds of bare skin and fierce, bony face give a false impression. They have large, solid, rotund stomachs which look a bit odd too. Although the Sphynx looks fragile they are anything but. There is one notable consideration; they have no protection for their skin so they could get sunburned when going outside. They probably feel the cold too. They are not hypoallergenic.
Biggest Pool of Friendly Cats
What the study appears not to have addressed sufficiently is that character is made up of genetics and environmental factors (nature, nuture) and there will be many moggies that have the perfect character and which are extremely friendly. It is down to individual cats and their character. There are obviously far more friendly moggies in the world than purebred cats because purebred cats are relatively rare.
As it is not difficult to assess a cat’s personality when selecting a cat for adoption the implication that the Sphynx should be selected as a cat companion over moggies does not really hold water.
Lovable Sphynx Cat
All that said, I like the Sphynx cat. They look strange and a bit scary sometimes. It is ironic that their characters are almost the opposite to the way they look. I have met one at a cat show and he genuinely was adorable and very, very smart.
You get a bonus with a Sphynx cat: they are great to touch, like a hot water bottle covered with chamois (shammy) leather.
Below are some more pages on cat personality.