What breed of cat is best with children? What would be the most appropriate breed for a single person who wants minimal interaction with a cat? How can one avoid or minimize the occurrence of urine spraying in pet cats? These are the kind of questions that could be posed to anyone recommending a cat. The information here is from an informal survey of cat show judges who have a wealth of experience with various breeds. With the information about breed-specific behavior, one might think of prescribing a particular breed for certain people or situations. The Ex might, in fact, be prescribed for someone who is allergic to cats, because such people are often not affected by this breed. One might prescribe a Siamese or Burmese for a family with children because there cats interact more readily with family members than cats from other breeds.
The following are behavioral characteristics obtained from judges registered with the Cat Fanciers’ Association or the American Cat Fanciers Association, the largest and second largest registry associations, respectively. Judges emphasized something that cannot be mentioned enough – that there are major individual differences among cats of the same breed. The generalizations are not going to hold for all cats of a breed. An Abyssinian may act like a Burmese and vice versa. The value of selecting a purebred rather than a mixed breed is that one has more success in predicting what a cat will be like as an adult. Because the environment has a more pronounced affect on behavior than morphology, prediction of behavior is less successful than predication of body shape or coat color.
This most popular of all breeds originated in Thailand and is reported to be the most outgoing with strangers and the most demanding of affection and attention. Some informants felt that this reflects a desire for warmth because of the light hair coat. Although Siamese do not display the one person-cat phenomenon that we associate with more fearful cats, they become strongly attached to their owners and recognize their owner’s voice at a distance. Siamese vocalize extensively in a style that many people refer to as “talking.” They easily vary the pitch of their meows, especially if this gets a reaction from the owners. The vocalizations are objectionable to some people, especially in small apartments or when the females come into estrus. Loving to be held, snuggled, and carried about, the Siamese is a good pet for gentle children.
The Persian’s beautiful long coat attracts many people, but it require combing and brushing several times a week. These cats are reported to be somewhat lethargic, reserved, and inactive, and do not seek affection as do the Siamese. Seemingly not desiring close contact, they are more comfortable with being petted as they lie on the floor. The aversion that Persians have to being held is partially attributed to their tendency to get too hot on a person’s lap, due to their heavy coats. the judges interviewed rated the Persian as the safest cat if one wanted to avoid a song bird predator. This could be related to the breed’s low activity level.
Like their close Siamese relatives, the Burmese are reported to be demanding of affection. They are considered good family pets if the family members want a cat that is affectionate, easygoing, and playful. Compared with the Siamese, they vocalize less and are less outgoing to strangers but are not as withdrawn as some other breeds. A former reputation of the Burmese breed for being temperamental is apparently no longer appropriate. This breed is considered suitable for a family with active (but gentle) children.
This breed is the most feral looking of the popular breed and is reportedly usually more shy and fearful of strangers. The Aby may be too nervous to make a good cat for children. Apparently it does not like snuggling as a lap cat, but enjoys being petted at a distance.
People are attracted to this breed by its overall roundness, that is, its rounded head, arched back, round rump, and lack of a tail. The behavior of the Manx seems to be more variable than that of other breeds, since the judges did not agree in assessing this breed. Although some classified the cat as withdrawn and very wary of strangers, others felt the cat was quite playful and would be good with a family.
Rapidly growing in popularity, this attractive cat has the heavy, short, well-rounded body and long fur of a Persian and the coloring of a Siamese; its behavior is apparently intermediate between the two breeds. The Himalayan is not as outgoing with strangers as is the Siamese but it is not as reserved as the Persian. With its heavy coat, the Himalayan will tend to become too warm and thus not appreciate extensive cuddling.
While this breed’s reportedly shy and withdrawn behavior is not appealing, the dense, plush coat feels like a short-coated beaver. Trace a design in the coat with your finger and it remains. Being one of the most shy and withdrawn of all breeds, it will avoid your guest and your other cats.
People who are allergic to cats are often able to tolerate the Rex, which has no fur undercoat. However, the jittery behavior of the breed has little to recommend it. It is easily upset, withdrawn, apprehensive, unpredictable, actively high-strung, and hard to handle.