This, of course, is not a simple question and any answer we attemptis bound to be multifaceted. The relationship will depend on the person’s desire to interact with the cat; likewise on the part of the cat, as well as on its ability to interact.
Before we can look at the relationship as a whole, we need to look at the factors that af fecthow cats interact with people. These include genetics, early exposure, experience and the way in which people interact with the cats themselves.
Like people, the way cats react to the world around them depends on a combination of genetics and experience. Also like people,there are cats that seem to be born bold and confident and others that are always nervous about tackling anything.
Researchers who have attempted to characterise cat personalities have found that they can place them in broad categories: cats that are friendly and interact with people; cats that are friendly but rather reserved; andcats that do not want any contact at all (these were termed‘unfriendly’).
In a separate study, research revealed that kittens from fathers that were in the friendly category were also friendly.Other researchers found that kittens from friendly fathers were also more likely to go up to novel objects and investigate them – they were more confident and bolder in general, so perhaps this also gave them a confidence with their interactions with people and their will ingness to interact was interpreted as friendliness.Researchers who study people have found they can establish whether a baby is bold in nature or not by about the age of nine months, through studying the ways they react in certain circumstances.
A nine-month-old baby would be the equivalent of a kitten of about three to four weeks in age – already trying solids and trying to explore around the nest – so the comparison actually fits very well.
We often tend to split our pet cats into pedigree cats and moggies. Pedigrees could be defined as cats that come from a pre-defined group; the genes available for them to use come from animals that look similar in many of their physical characteristics –be it coat colour or length or shape of body, size of ears or colour of eyes.
Individuals are selected to comply with a set of characteristics that are defined for that breed. However, if we are selecting cats on looks, are we also selecting for certain behavioural characteristics
that are with in that group already? When we look at some of the breeds, it is obvious that they do have trends of behaviour withinthem. For example, Siamese cats are often very interactive withtheir owners and demanding of attention and tend to be quite vocal in their interactions.
Persians, on the other hand, are less likely to be as active and are much quieter. However, within allcats, be they pedigree or moggie, there is a wide range of characteristics and it is said that individual personalities of cats ingeneral, breed or no breed (moggies), span the complete range –you might have a quiet Siamese or a very active Persian. These maybe the exceptions within the breed, but individual behaviours stillarise that do not comply with the norm. We can guess what is likelyto happen in some breeds, but certainly not all – many behave inas wide a range of ways as is possible with in the cat kingdom.