Lily here meowing at you on International Women’s Day! This holiday made me think that we female felines are often incorrectly labeled with old and inaccurate stereotypes…”females are more aloof, females are more aggressive…meow, meow, meow…”
I’m here to tell you that we felines (male and female) can’t be categorized so easily. I consulted with our Human on this subject as she is not only our Purrsonal Assistant but she has diplomas in Feline Animal Behavior & Psychology and Understanding Feline Anxiety (as well as Pet Bereavement counseling but that’s a skill for another blog post).
When I asked our Human whether she would consider bringing a male or female feline into our clowder, she said that there were many factors to consider and all were important things to consider as well as gender.
She said there’s this thing called “nature vs nurture” which she explained to me is that a cat’s behavior is a combination of physical things like the personalities of our parents, our breed and yes, even our coat color versus how we are influenced by our environment (how our mothers train us, the humans treat us, etc.)
Human scientists even studied this at Cambridge University and they learned that the “friendliness” of a kitten’s father had an effect on the kitten’s behavior, even if the kitten hadn’t been handled by humans at a young age. They found that kittens with “unfriendly” fathers, regardless of how much they were handled were not as friendly. In other words, genetics are an important part of the makeup of our personalities.
The issue isn’t whether males are friendlier than females because there are many things that contribute to our wonderful feline purrsonalities. Breed makes a difference and you don’t have to be a fancy cat from a breeder to figure this out. Even those of us that are from, errr, multi-breed families from the shelter can find out about our dominant breed and how it affects our behavior.
The Female Human did this for all of us by having our DNA tested by Basepaws. All you have to do is look at me and you can figure out I have quite a varied heritage. My DNA says that the majority of my heritage is from The Western Group (almost 60%), meaning a mix of Russian Blue and Ragdoll with a sprinkle of “broadly western” (little bits of American Shorthair, Turkish Van, Turkish Angora and the rest of the “western” breeds). I also have a little mix of Eastern Breeds (over 15%) such as Thai Siamese, Burman, Peterbald and the catch all “Broadly Eastern” category. Needless to say, figuring out my purrsonality from my heritage is a bit tricky but it still helps to know my dominant heritage. And there’s lots of other great things DNA testing tells us like if I’m genetically pre-disposed to certain medical conditions.
It’s not just our breed heritage that determines how we act and react. As I noted above, our feline mom’s and dad’s personalities make up who we are. The amount of socialization we had when we were little kittens also can influence how we act and interact. Our life experience also determines how we live with other cats, animals and humans.
And the very good news is that you humans can have an effect on us, by giving us time and love you can change a fearful feline into a snuggle buddy with time.
So there you have it. This International Women’s Day let’s have a nice meow shout out to all the female felines out there and let’s stop believing all those old stereotypes people still keep perpetuating!
The ‘Feline Five’: An exploration of personality in pet cats (Felis catus), Carla A. Litchfield ,Gillian Quinton,Hayley Tindle,Belinda Chiera,K. Heidy Kikillus,Philip Roetman -Published: August 23, 2017
“The Impact of Paternity and Early Social Development on The Development of Cat’s Behavior to People and Novel Objects” –Cambridge University, 1998- Sandra McCune