Breed differences in behavioural development in kittens

P. Marchei, S. Diverio, N. Falocci, J. Fatjó, J. L. Ruiz-de-la-Torre, X. Manteca

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Differences in behaviour of pure breed cats have been suggested but not wholly investigated. Oriental/Siamese/Abyssinian (OSA) kittens (n = 43) were weekly compared with Norwegian Forest (NFO) kittens (n = 39) from the 4th to the 10th week of age in a repeated Open Field Test (OFT) paradigm. Heart rate (HR) and rectal temperature (RT) before and after the test, and behavioural responses during the OFT were recorded. Behaviours registered were analysed by focal animal sampling. Significant breed differences were found; cats of the northern zones (NFO) seem to develop earlier thermoregulatory abilities. Precocious opening of eyes, higher locomotion scores and longer time spent standing, observed in OSA kittens may indicate an earlier neurological development. Inter breed differences recorded for exploration and locomotion seem to indicate coping style divergences: in the OFT challenging situation OSA kittens presented higher emotional tachycardia and performed more passively, with a faster decline in exploration and locomotion scores. NFO kittens exerted a more active behaviour as they spent more time exploring the arena and in escape attempts. Notwithstanding OSA and NFO cat selection was mainly aimed to improve divergent morphological traits, some different behavioural and physiological traits seem to have been maintained or co-selected within each breed. © 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)522-531
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number4-5
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2009


  • Behavioural responses
  • Breed differences
  • Cat
  • Coping style
  • Emotional tachycardia
  • Neurological development
  • Pen field test
  • Thermoregulation


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