The Null Device

Quantifying cat friendliness

A recent study, ranking different breeds of cats in friendliness (to humans), has found that pedigree cats are friendlier than moggies. The study, from the National Veterinary School of Alfort in Paris, found that the friendliest breed being the sphynx, a rare hairless variety.
The researchers believed the sphynx’s affectionate nature could be due to its reliance on humans to keep warm. The study also suggested that the greater affability of pedigrees came about because breeders tended to leave the kittens with their mothers for longer, during a crucial period in their development, when they are becoming used to humans. It could also be the result of selecting more friendly cats for breeding.
The selection hypothesis sounds plausible; by comparison, Russian researchers managed to domesticate foxes in a mere 35 generations, and also managed to breed a vicious, highly aggressive variety by selecting for the exactly opposite traits. Presumably pedigree cats have been bred for long enough to significantly alter their psychological make-up compared to free-range varieties.
The sphynx scored an average of 22.83, compared with 18.93 for the domestic short-haired. Because the numbers of other breeds in the survey were generally small, they were grouped together to score an average for pedigrees of 20.40.
I wonder whether a study of friendliness in sphynx cats in warm and cold climates would yield any significant differences.

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