Behavioral associations with breed, coat type, and eye color in single-breed cats

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Abstract

In this study, behavioral characteristics in purebred cats were hypothesized to associate with breed, eye color, coat color, and coat pattern. Owners of 574 single-breed, registered cats completed the Feline Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire, which generates a standardized behavioral profile incorporating 20 factors. Subjects were also screened for evidence of fear-related aggression, territorial aggression and inappropriate social skills, fear of noises, redirected aggression, separation anxiety, and inappropriate elimination. Subject breeds included Abyssinians, Bengals, Birmans, Burmese, Devon rexes, Maine coons, Norwegian Forest cats, Orientals, Persians, Ragdolls, Siamese, and Tonkinese. Coat colors included agouti, black, brown, cinnamon, blue, lilac, fawn, caramel, taupe, red, cream, blue cream, apricot, and white. Phenotypic variants associated with albinism, tabby and tortoiseshell patterning, inhibition of melanin, production of pheomelanin, and white spotting were represented. Statistical analysis revealed significant differences in the Feline Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire scores and frequency of behavior problems in cats of multiple coat colors, coat patterns, and breeds (P < 0.05). Interestingly, nearly all associations between behavior and coat type could be attributed to breed-based behavior differences. Associations independent of breed included increased cat aggression in agouti cats and prey interest in red cats, decreased stranger-directed aggression in piebald cats, and increased likelihood of separation anxiety in Siamese and Tonkinese patterned cats.

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