View Full Version : Inherited behaviour?

Ally Cat's Mommy
04-17-2003, 08:12 AM
Hi Everyone

I'd be interested to know what your opinion is about the following:

Is a cat's personality determined by genetics, or is it a by-product of it's early formative months and being socialised as a kitten?

Some cats just dont like to be held or cuddled, whilst others do.

It just confuses me when people say they dont want a stray or a shelter cat because they want to know it's background. :(

I dont see how knowing where a cat "comes from" is any guarantee that it will have the personality or behaviour you expect.:confused:

04-17-2003, 04:05 PM
Bastet was never socialised properly as a kitten but she adores humans and other cats. That is not to say she doesn't have her problems though. Like all cats do. Shelter cats are great cats too! Who care's what their background is. With most animals if you love them unconditionally will always be a blessing in your life.

04-17-2003, 06:26 PM
Who knows how much of a cat's behavior is inherited and how much is environmental? I sure don't. Take for example my brother (Fred) and sister-in-law (Jennifer)'s three cats.

1. Pippin: probably a Maine Coon cat mis, 18-pound polydactyl longish-haired yellow tabby. Been with Janny since he was a kitten, been loved and spoiled rotten all that time.

2. Lukas: Fred found him behind the bathroom trashcan in a friend's 2-room, 14-cat apartment. Fred was told "Oh, that's just where he lives, he's always there! He's afraid of everything!" He looked at the trembling bundle of terrified kitten, picked him up, tucked him in his leather jacket (Lukas is black, too), said "Okay, little buddy, it's okay, you're coming with me" and took him home. Lukas is now a fairly big guy, plush long black fur.

3. Trillian: Rescued sick and starving with her abandoned siblings by friends of Fred and Jenn from the basement of an abandoned building. A delicate Tuxie, she permanently looks only about 3/4 grown. Said friends were cat-allergic, and found homes for all but one kitten, and were worried she wouldn't do well at the shelter with her infected eyes and health problems. Fred and Jenn said "We'll take her," and home she came.

Now which of these cats have I never met in person, because they are terrified of strangers?

Which have I only seen in a windowsill waiting for Mom to come home (and then disappeared when I exited the car WITH Jenn.)

Which is the one who loves everyone, and will rub itself against your hand if it is dangling by your side, and follow you from room to room?


Not the ones you'd guess.

If there weren't pictures and a liberal application of yellow cat fur on the green couch, I wouldn't know Pippin existed.

Lukas, the terrified, shell-shocked thing, is now Mister Love. The touch of a hand starts the motor purring.

Trillian, the youngest when rescued, I have only seen in the windowsill, and once I saw the points of her ears (she'll push the blankets on the bed til there's a big enough "lump" for her to hide behind.)

05-03-2003, 09:00 PM
Originally posted by Ally Cat's Mommy
. . . I dont see how knowing where a cat "comes from" is any guarantee that it will have the personality or behaviour you expect.:confused:

You are absolutely correct. The exception might be that a Bengal will predictably be more active than a Persian. I'd bet on it. But for the most part each cat is an individual, just like us humans. I had a soft spot for Ragdolls due to their reputation for having such a docile nature. Not always the case . . . as Pam can attest. Gabe (may he rest in peace) was a far cry from the limp-in-your-arms Ragdoll.

05-04-2003, 06:02 AM
While it is true that a cat's background MAY help form there personalities, there are always exceptions to the rules.

05-04-2003, 07:05 AM
Cookie was a stray that we caught. She would never come up to anyone while she was living outside. But now she is a real people kitty, she loves to sit on your lap and her favorite person is Brian's best man! Everytime he comes over, she jumps on his lap and goes to sleep.

05-05-2003, 08:41 AM
I have no idea how much of the behavior is just genetically determined and what comes from the environment.
Tigris and Filou have many different traits in their character but as I do not know Tigris' brothers and sisters I cannot tell you what is hereditary.

With all the Abys here you can see that there are similarities which show that things like sitting high, balancing on top of railings or being vocal or not will have a genetic part. On the other hand I have the impression that wanting to be held or not resp. the favorite cuddles (chin or tail:D ) are acquired behavior.

05-05-2003, 09:23 AM
My guess is that it is combinations of things. I do believe that they inherit many of their extreme behavior patterns, i.e. having to be at the highest place in the house, using their paw as a utensil etc. etc. I also believe that getting a cat early and molding it's personality has some impact on how they turn out. There are always those kitties that defy logic, Miley for example. I really think she feels very insecure without Graemer around..... but there is an example of two cats, brother and sister, having two different personalities....but identical up bringing.

So there is no one answer to this, I do believe. Just like a family of ten children, they are all a bit different....and sometimes totally different.

Sometimes ferals turn out to be the most loving, sweet cats.

Gabe, by the way, would do the Ragdoll limp thing but NOT while he was stressed. He would let me pick him up and cuddle him lots of times. Then, when he was wanting to go outside or was p.o.ed about something (not wanting to come inside), he would go after me like he wanted to kill me.

I am hoping that this new kitty coming in June, has a wonderful personality like Graemer did. By the way, neither of Juni Rose's parents are those of Graemer and Miley's.


05-05-2003, 04:06 PM
I suspect that there's a significant amount of behavior that is genetically driven (like an Aby is an Aby) but there is also a significant part socially driven.

We can predict how some breeds will behave when raised from kittenhood with love, safety and affection, however, this same cat forced to survive on the street will adopt a much less social behavior. And that cat will take longer to trust you (if ever) and probably never really trust that there will be food in the dish tomorrow.

05-05-2003, 04:20 PM
Tibby was born to a feral cat and she is as sweet and loving as can be. Corkscrew isn't very affectionate but I think that's because for almost a year he was neglected by his previous owner.