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Your Ideal Cat: Insights into Breed and Gender Differences in Cat Behavior

Benjamin L. Hart
Lynette A. Hart
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  • Book Info
    Your Ideal Cat
    Book Description:

    For a happy relationship with your cat, go beyond the looks and make your pick based on demonstrated breed behavior. This is the advice of the Harts, two experts in animal communication and behavior, whose new book takes the process of selecting a cat to the next level by offering data-based behavioral profiles of a wide range of cat breeds. Developed over a lifetime of research and through extensive interviews with eighty veterinary experts, the profiles are presented in easy-to-use graphical form. A history of the development of different breeds is presented, and then breed-specific differences across a range of variables are discussed. These include twelve behavioral traits, in areas such as affection, sociality, activity level, and litter box use. After giving guidance about choosing a cat, the authors present some strategies for avoiding problem behaviors and resolving those that emerge. They also share fascinating theories about the origins of various common cat behaviors, including purring, yawning, eating grass, “flipping out” on catnip, and staking out territory. While the focus is on purebred cats, there is also lots of good information for owners of blends. The book ends with helpful guidance on further reading. Based on the latest science, this is a great book for anyone interested in the fundamental building blocks of feline behavior, and an invaluable handbook for cat owners.

    eISBN: 978-1-61249-255-1
    Subjects: Zoology

Table of Contents

  1. Chapter 1 How to use this book to select your ideal cat
    (pp. 1-4)

    Let’s say that you’ve decided you want a kitten, but you don’t know what breed to choose, or whether to choose a male or a female. You read about special features of some breeds, such as one that is exceptionally affectionate—a real lap cat—and another that is hairless, but warm and friendly. Some of your friends may say that you cannot predict how a kitten will turn out—a cat is a cat is a cat. Others may tell you to just stick with a female, or a male, and you’ll be fine. Consulting cat lovers can be...

  2. Chapter 2 Choosing and welcoming your new cat
    (pp. 5-14)

    By far, most people looking for a cat think of getting the generic domestic shorthair (DSH) or domestic longhair (DLH), and they are often attracted to the idea of adopting from a shelter. Others may find an abandoned cat and want to take it in. Still others may be familiar with a litter of kittens that a friend or neighbor has and wish to bring one home. If you choose a cat from a friend or a neighbor’s litter, and you know the mother, you can get some idea of how the kitten will behave as an adult. Unfortunately, with...

  3. Chapter 3 Behavioral differences between male and female cats
    (pp. 15-18)

    Many people who are considering adopting a cat may not realize the importance of considering whether to get a male or a female. Yet, as we discuss in this chapter, there are major differences in behavior, and the differences apply both to purebred cats and to cats you may obtain from a shelter.

    Most people adopting a kitten are aware that males are more likely than females to urine mark in the house, and that, if neutered, the likelihood of urine marking is greatly reduced. However, keep in mind that even neutered males are much more likely to urine mark...

  4. Chapter 4 Raising kittens to emphasize good behavior and discourage problem behaviors
    (pp. 19-30)

    When raising a kitten we are logically concerned with its well-being and making sure its physiological needs are met. But keep in mind that time spent shaping your kitten’s behavior is also a good investment in effort. Studies show that early learning experiences have more staying power than later learning experiences. In this chapter we discuss the important issues of litter box use; outdoor elimination training, for those cats with access to the outdoors; avoiding triggers for urine marking in the home; directing scratching behavior to an appropriate object; and encouraging friendly behavior toward children, and even dogs, by taking...

  5. Chapter 5 Historical background of cats
    (pp. 31-34)

    Before we delve into breed-specific behavioral characteristics in the next two chapters, it is useful to review the intriguing historical background of cat breeds and breed types. Particularly interesting is that some common breeds date way back in history to ancient Persia and Siam, while others stem from the efforts of breeders in the 1950s and 1960s.

    But first we look just at the domestication of the cat, which began roughly 10,000 to 11,000 years ago, when humans stopped hunting and gathering and adopted a more agricultural lifestyle. As settled humans learned to grow grains, and grains became a dietary...

  6. Chapter 6 Understanding behavioral characteristics of cats
    (pp. 35-64)

    When people select a dog, the questions asked about behavior invariably reflect what is known, or assumed, about breed differences, even if the intent is to get a dog from a shelter. We know that behavioral differences among dog breeds usually reflect some utilitarian role in the breed’s background such as herding sheep, retrieving game for hunters, and chasing rats out of burrows.

    When it comes to cats, most people are not as focused on behavior, perhaps because they are not aware of the real behavioral differences that exist among the various breeds of cats. We know that a Collie...

  7. Chapter 7 Behavioral profiles of cat breeds
    (pp. 65-120)

    The collection of behavioral profiles that follow is a central feature of this book. It is essential to keep in mind what these profiles mean and what they do and do not tell you. The graphs represent not the authors’ opinions but the results of interviewing eighty small-animal veterinarians specializing in feline medicine. These authorities were divided between men and women from the eastern, central, and western parts of the United States. Each was asked to rank a list of seven breeds on each of the twelve behavioral traits, discussed in Chapter 6. Of these seven breeds to rank, five...

  8. Chapter 8 Why cats do that: Purring, yawning, eating grass, and flipping out on catnip
    (pp. 121-132)

    This chapter applies to all breeds and both genders. It is about the intriguing things that cats do that endear them to us, make us wonder about cat behavior, and even entertain us. We are enthusiastic about ending this book by addressing the question we often ask about our cats: Why do they do that? We have one caveat, however, regarding the explanations we provide as to why cats purr, yawn, munch on grass, and flip out on catnip. The research is not yet definitive and is still ongoing; our interpretations fit best with the science available and seem to...

  9. Epilogue
    (pp. 133-134)

    The popularity of cats in American homes, and in those in other developed countries around the world, has grown to the point that cats now outnumber dogs as the most common human companion animal. The reasons are numerous, but certainly a big factor is that in the modern era we are away from our homes many more hours during the week and our living spaces are smaller. This makes cats the perfect companion animal. But we, as caregivers, differ in what we value in a cat.

    The close proximity with which cats share our lives, and the rather long duration...