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Kitties and Purrsonality: Study Shows Cats Inherit Behavioral Traits from Parents

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We already know that every cat has a unique pawsonality. Some felines are sweet, cuddly and people-oriented, others are more in touch with their hunter instincts and live for adventure, others can be moody and even prone to aggression. This is especially true for different breeds of cats. Not only that a Siamese and a Scottish Fold look nothing alike, but there are also significant differences in their behavior and temperament. So what is the reason behind such variations and contrasts? Science says: your kitty got it from her momma.

A study published in Nature Research journal was first of its kind to track heritability of traits in felines. The team of scientists from Helsinki was focused on 3 specific cat breeds-  Maine Coon, Ragdoll, and Turkish Van- and they monitored behaviors such as activity level, sociability with humans, shyness, aggressiveness, and stereotypical behavior. Some of the differences that could be noticed among the feline subjects, namely activity, and stereotypical behavior, were largely influenced by other factors such as age and environment. However, the researchers managed to see a pattern of highly heritable behaviors- according to their findings, a little less of half of a cat’s behavioral traits seem to be inherited from the parents.

As to why some behavioral traits seem to be highly heritable, researchers are yet to give their hypothesis. It could be that generations of selective breeding have left their mark in more ways than one, or that certain appearance traits come with certain behaviors encoded in the genes. The most important thing, though, is that not only that this study furthermore highlighted the uniqueness of cat’s personalities even within a breed, but it also created the world’s second largest body of material on feline behavior. It involves data on 6,000 cats of 40 different breeds, leaving room for more future studies about our mysterious furry companions.


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