Breed and gender behaviour differences: Relation to the ancient history and origin of the domestic cat

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


When going through the adoption process for a new puppy there is typically a focus on breed identification with an eye on what to expect when the dog grows up in terms of behaviour as well as body shape and size. Talk to someone who is thinking of adopting a kitten and typically little attention is given to breed or breed composition. Instead, thought is given to hair coat length, colour and pattern along with a concern about an appropriate place from which to adopt a kitten (Karsh & Turner, 1988). The overwhelming practice in selecting a kitten is to adopt a generic type, commonly referred to as a domestic shorthair (DSH) or longhair (DLH). It appears as though not much thought is given to the behavioural profile of the cat as an adult. The logic seems to be ‘a cat is just a cat’. In other words, you get what you get. Contrast that with someone who adopts a Jack Russell Terrier dog knowing that the behaviour - reactive and snappy - will be quite different from the Golden Retriever they had before. Puppy adopters commonly select a breed based on what they expect in the way of behaviour as the puppy grows up; knowing the breed, one can predict the future behaviour to some extent (Hart & Hart, 1985, 1988). While people adopting kittens do not seem to consider the future behaviour of the kitten, they are certainly affected by the behaviour of their cat as adulthood is reached. The behaviours that many cat caregivers find desirable include being affectionate towards the human family members and socially outgoing; and you can add in being good at litter box use. Behaviours that are universally undesirable are being aggressive towards human family members, overly fearful of visitors and urine marking in the house. What astute cat people realise is that some behavioural differences among cats are genetically based. And, when it comes to purebred cats, there are striking differences in behaviour - at least between some breeds - as there are in dogs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Domestic Cat: The Biology of its Behaviour
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9781139177177, 9781107025028
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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