Good Kitty: The Link Between Cat Behavior, Breed, and Physical Appearance


Just as certain dog breeds are known for having distinctive personality types, purebred cats also have similar associations. We’ve all heard the descriptions…Siamese are vocal and demanding, Persians are lazy and mellow, Bengals are active and outgoing. Are these assumptions about the personalities of cat breeds real or just stereotypes? A recent article in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior examines the link between feline behavior, breed, and physical characteristics. The results show there’s some truth behind the stereotypes.


The owners of 574 purebred cats were surveyed about their cats’ behaviors. The researchers studied traits like fear, aggression, separation anxiety, and sociability. The findings confirm that breed can be a good indicator of a cat’s personality.


Certain “Oriental” breeds did score higher than other cats in things like sociability, vocalization, playfulness, trainability, and attention-seeking…traits we commonly associate with Orientals like the Siamese, Tonkinese, etc.


Do long-haired breeds live up to their reputations for being laid back? Some do. The fluffy Birman proved to be a good example of a long-haired cat that tends to be less active, vocal, and predatory than other breeds. The popular Maine Coon also has some classic long-haired traits—less likely to seek attention and have separation anxiety than other breeds—but they also were more prey-driven than other long-hairs.


The researchers found that some physical traits like coat color and markings were associated with certain behaviors, but since physical characteristics like coat type are closely linked to breed, most of the associations could be traced to breed rather than to things like color.


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