Ragdoll Behavior

By Meilan Solly

June 18, 2019


Some cat breeds are closely associated with specific behaviors: Ragdolls, for example, are often viewed as relaxed, friendly and affectionate, while Russian Blues are considered more intelligent and reserved. But a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports is the first academic paper to investigate whether felines actually show breed differences in behavior and how, or even if, these traits are passed down from one generation to the next.

As Nick Carne writes for Cosmos, researchers from the University of Helsinki drew on data detailing around 5,726 cats’ behavior to identify patterns among breeds and gauge heritability. Overall, the team found that different breeds do in fact behave in different ways; of these behaviors—including activity level, shyness, aggression and sociability with humans—around half are inherited.

The starkest differences among breeds emerged in the category of activity. The smallest differences, meanwhile, centered on stereotypical behavior. Prolonged or repetitive behaviors, like pacing or paw chewing, with no discernible purpose are called stereotypies. In some cases, these abnormal behaviors are actually self-destructive.

“Since the age of about two weeks, activity is a reasonably permanent trait, whereas stereotypical behaviour is affected by many environmental factors early on in the cat’s life as well as later,” Hannes Lohi, study co-author and lead researcher of the University of Helsinki’s feline genetic research group, says in a statement. “This may explain the differences observed.”

Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/survey-suggests-cat-breed-behaviors-are-largely-inherited-180972438/#vdokHQ0LMLBbZZ9h.99
Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! http://bit.ly/1cGUiGv
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter