Cat Behaviorist and Cat Whisperer Mieshelle Nagelschneider of The Cat Behavior Clinic

Cat Behaviorist and Cat Whisperer article with Mieshelle Nagelschneider, Cat Behaviorist and Cat Whisperer with The Cat Behavior Clinic.

Article that was recently written by Jade Lee Duffy September, 27, 2011.  She did a great job!

Do you think your cat has a unique personality, or is it just like others of the same breed?

“Some cats are more aloof and act like they don’t really need you, then you have others that are the complete opposite – as soon as you touch them they start purring,” says Michelle Temple, co-founder of  Hong Kong Alley Cat Watch.  As the owner of seven mixed-breed animals, aged between 10 weeks and eight years, and a few foster cats at any one time, Temple believes neutered males are “without a doubt” more affectionate than neutered females.  And neutered cats, in general, are more affectionate than non-neutered ones, which tend to be more territorial and want to escape from home.  She adds her bob-tailed tabby, named Weirdo, is her most unfriendly feline. “She was nurtured exactly the same way as other cats, but she has always been very timid and scared, and does not like to be around people.  She absolutely adores other cats though,” Temple says. “There’s no reason why she didn’t turn out like her siblings, that are very friendly.  And if she gets sick, it would be almost impossible to medicate her.”  In contrast to Weirdo, Temple’s Sexy Mamma is “so, so affectionate”.  Whenever a visitor enters Temple’s apartment, the cat jumps onto the stranger’s chest and snuggles into their chin.

Mieshelle Nagelschneider, an Oregon-based cat behaviourist at The Cat Behavior Clinic, says some breeds are more vocal or friendly than others.  “I’ve worked with Ragdoll cats that are very friendly, relaxed and mellow, not a high-energy cat,” says Nagelschneider, who has completed a study on animal cognition at Harvard University.  “I’ve also had other Ragdolls that are very aggressive.  So you can’t choose a breed and get a trait that you expect.”

The cat expert, whose expertise has been featured on the American television show USA Today and CatChannel.com, who also writes a regular column for Pets Magazine,  says it’s best for a kitten to stay with its mother and siblings for the first 10 to 12 weeks of life.  “Between two to seven weeks is a tremendously critical period where they learn social boundaries and how to inhibit bite pressure – so they know when enough is enough,” says Nagelschneider, who owns six Persians and a Tabby.  “Many bottle-fed cats miss out on learning how to be a cat.  They will bite the owner out of frustration, and have problems reading body language.  If you take them too early, there is a good chance they will get cycled back to the animal shelter.”  By being close to other baby cats at an early age, Nagelschneider says a kitten will learn how to play with other young ones, so adopting two kittens is better than one to help with interaction skills. For good socialisation skills with people, kittens need to be picked up about 10 times a day, and not by just one person, she recommends.

In terms of pure breeds and their common characteristics, the cat expert says Siamese cats are known to be vocal meowers.  Persians are laid back, fluffy balls of love that are friendly and easy-going. The hybrid Bengal is the wild cat of the bunch. “They need to hunt, and you need to give them an environment that is stimulating,” Nagelschneider says.  Calicos aren’t always the sweet and wonderful cat they are known to be.  The cat expert says that, “Calicos are like a moody female with a queen-bee personality – it could ignore you or swat at you”.

In being able to predict your kitten’s personality based on breed, Temple says: “Kittens from the same family can be raised in the same environment, but some will never turn out friendly.  I thought Weirdo would change, but there are some things you can’t.”  Jade Lee-Duffy For editorial inquiries: custompublishing@scmp.com Cat breeds can have wildly differing personality traits, even within the same litter Michelle Temple’s Sexy Mamma is ‘so, so affectionate’ she gets on with everybody, including Starfish the dog.

Editorial note by Mieshelle Nagelschneider: It was USA Today online, not the actual TV show.