Thanks to the Tails From the Foster Kittens blog, I found yet another glaring example of how humans, especially scientific humans, just do not understand cats. This study, published in Volume 7, Issue 6 of the Journal of Veterinary Behaviour (November 2012), finds that breed cats are friendlier than your average non-breed cat (you know, your everyday domestic shorthair found at most rescues, shelters, or possibly cadging for a bit of dinner on your back doorstep). Even more hilarious, they hypothesize that the reason breed cats are “friendlier” is because they generally stay with their mothers longer than non-breed cats. I would be rolling on the floor, MOLing if this study hadn’t been picked up by several news services and spread all over the internet!
These scientists have it all wrong, and the fact that it has been publicized risks discouraging humans from adopting perfectly happy, friendly non-breed cats from shelters. Those humans should have their scientific licenses revoked, or whatever needs to be done to make them seek other means of making a living… hopefully far, far away from cats.
Even a kitty knows that scientific study involves not only researching data, but also asking the right questions. And the wrong questions were asked here. The scientists were wondering if the perception of cats being aloof was true (which, duh, it isn’t), and whether it mattered if the cat was a breed cat or not. What they needed to ask, once they gathered their information, was “Why did the study’s participants cite their breed cats as friendlier, while humans with non-breed cats said they were not as friendly?” Because the truth is that underneath our fur or lack of it, kitty genetics are pretty similar, no matter the breed or not-breed!
As a cat expert — and a cat — here is the pure, honest, real scientific truth about how affection and friendliness develops in a cat. It is two-part — one you humans can’t always control and one you can: a kitten’s affinity for humans is developed in the first few weeks of its life, and after that by the expectations of the humans around them. It is that simple, and it is true regardless of whether a cat is purebred or not.
For kitten to be human-friendly, it helps if her mother likes humans first off, because kittens learn their initial lessons from their mother. And in addition, it helps if the kittens have human contact right from the start. The more pleasant interactions a kitten has with humans, the friendlier she will be. Logical, no? This is partly why the humans in the study said their breed cats were friendly — they were taught to be. And these humans expected the cats they paid money for to be friendly, and they gave them more attention and love.
And what about the humans with the less-friendly non-breed cats? Could it possibly be that they expected a lot less out of their cats? Were they thinking they could have a low maintenance pet that would spend its day sleeping on the couch and that they did not need to spend much time interacting with it? So could it be possible that their cats were less friendly because these humans didn’t spend all that much time with their cats to begin with? Why, yes it could!
Many humans who get breed cats are more educated about how to interact with cats than humans who just “happen” onto a non-breed cat. So in reality, the study should have been more about the humans, and how to make them friendlier to their cats!
I think most humans who come to my blog already understand the fallacy of this so-called study. So if you are a human reading this, could you please do me a favor and help spread the word that most of us kitties, breed or non-breed, are perfectly nice, friendly companions — as long as humans are friendly and give us some quality time? Thank you!