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Are Mixed-Breed Cats Less Friendly?

  • December 17, 2012
  • 1:30 pm
Are Mixed-Breed Cats Less Friendly?

Recently, a friend sent me a link to a UK newspaper article ranking cat breeds from least affectionate to most cuddly, and, oddly, the Sphynx cat won the grand prize for friendliest breed. According to researchers, mixed-breed cats — which comprise the majority of the feline population — are the most unfriendly.

I suppose that if I were an ordinary domestic cat cat, I’d be feeling pretty darn grumpy if I found out a bunch of scientists thought my proletarian breeding made me naturally less friendly and outgoing than my purebred kin.

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The study was published in the November 2012 issue of the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, but the author and the researchers, who hail from the French École nationale vétérinaire d’Alfort, seem to be more focused on dissing moggies than on doing real behavior research.

How did the study work? The scientists selected 129 cats from 14 breeds (including mixed-breeds) of a variety of ages and lifestyles. They then asked the cats’ caretakers to rate them on their reactions to family, friends, strangers, and vets, and each cat got a “friendliness score” based on the caretakers’ feedback. Purebreds came out on top, with owners who described their feline companions as “clingy” or “friendly,” with the Sphynx being the crème de la crème. Alas, our standard-issue moggies, despite also being described as friendly, took last place in the friendliness test, because their caretakers also called them “independent.”

Oh, dear! An independent cat? Well, I never! Excuse me while I stagger to the fainting couch.

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Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see independence as the antithesis of friendliness. Just because I like somebody doesn’t mean I need to be joined at the hip with them, and I think independence produces a more fulfilling life. I imagine cats feel the same way.

The researchers suggested that the purebred cats’ friendliness could originate from the fact that that they have been bred for generations to create a mellow and easygoing disposition. Also, purebred kittens are generally kept with their mothers for at least 12 weeks, while most mixed-breed kittens are lucky if they get to stay with their mothers and littermates for the minimum weaning time of eight weeks.

So, am I going to go off on a tear and start dissing purebred cats? No! I have no problem with purebred cats raised by responsible breeders and adopted by responsible caretakers.

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I’ve met several Sphynxes, and they certainly are among the most endearing and affectionate kitties I’ve ever met — but I’ve known plenty of grumpy purebreds, too. Tardar Sauce, the world’s grumpiest cat, clearly has at least some Ragdoll blood. Not only that, but almost every non-pedigree cat I’ve met has been friendly and affectionate.

Ultimately, it all comes down to environment. Any cat raised in a situation where she feels safe, has enough to eat, and has the opportunity to experience a lot of different stimuli will naturally be calmer and friendlier — that applies as much to plain-old domestic cats as it does to pampered purebreds. And if a Russian Blue or a Siamese found himself on the streets, he’d become just as bad-ass a feral cat as any mixed-breed would — and probably become just as fearful of humans, too.

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What do you think? Are purebred cats really friendlier than their mixed-breed cousins? Who was the friendliest cat you’ve ever met? How about the least friendly? What do you think contributed to their attitudes? Join the conversation in the comments!

Photo: Woman hugging a Sphynx cat by Shutterstock

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This post was written by JaneA Kelley, regular contributor to Catster Magazine.

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2:48AM PDT on Apr 28, 2013

Mixed breed cats are friendlier to the owner's wallets, but less friendly to the vet's I would say.

My current cat is the friendliest I've met. She was an orphan (ditched probably) I found on the street, like almost all of the cats I've had.

11:09AM PDT on Apr 24, 2013

Cats are little angels.

7:17AM PDT on Apr 23, 2013

Thank you Catster, for Sharing this!

11:18AM PDT on Apr 13, 2013

all cats are awesome

3:06PM PST on Mar 4, 2013

My furbabies love me . I don't like everyone, why should they?

7:17AM PST on Mar 3, 2013

my cat is a "mutt" and she is perfect

4:40PM PST on Feb 25, 2013

I got a second hand Siamese and a mixed shelter cat and although beeing different caracters, they are equal in showing and demanding love. So are my two dogs and I´m in trouble sometimes, owning only one lap and two hands but four cuddly pets.

1:48PM PST on Feb 25, 2013


7:27AM PST on Feb 2, 2013

A cat is what a cat is regardless of it's breed and mixed breed cats are generally much healthier. Give a cat love and affection and that's what you'll get in return. Why buy an expensive breed when thousands of cats die every day, homeless or in shelters? And if you really feel you need a pedigree cat check the shelters first, believe me there are hundreds of purebreds left at shelters too!

3:31PM PST on Jan 29, 2013

Whilst I have courteously never enquired into their genealogy, I am assured of unconditional
love and friendship from my (rescued) mother cat and her progeny...........

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Interesting and fun idea. Thank you.


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