They might not be the prettiest of animals but when it comes to friendliness, the hairless Sphynx is the cat’s whiskers.
A survey of different types of cat found the pedigree breed to be the most affectionate, whereas Britain’s most common variety – the non-pedigree shorthaired domestic moggy – is the most unfriendly.
The study, published in the Journal of Veterinary Behaviour, ranked 129 cats from 14 breeds according to geniality.
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Despite their reputation for being aloof and solitary, the research found that many cats are far friendlier than they are given credit for.
Pure-breds were found to be the most amiable, with the Sphynx – which can sell for £3,000 – coming top of the list.
And non-pedigrees were found to be the most likely to ignore their owners, shy away from affection and flee from strangers.
Dr Marie Abitbol, of the National Veterinary School of Alfort in Paris, where the study was carried out, said: ‘There is a clear difference in friendliness between the pure-bred cats and the domestic shorthaired. In general, the pedigree cats are friendlier than non-pedigree.’
It is thought the Sphynx’s affectionate nature, which even extends to a happiness to visit the vet or be bathed, is due to its reliance on humans to keep warm.
The survey said pedigrees may also be friendlier because breeders tend to leave kittens with their mothers for longer, during a crucial period in their development when they are becoming used to humans.
The animals studied ranged from kittens to more than 20 years old. They were a mix of males and females, with some neutered and some not.
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Some lived in homes with other animals and children, while others lived with only their owner.
The owners were asked a mix of questions, including how their cat would react when they entered a room, how often it would rub up against them, whether it would appear to avoid them, and how it would behave around strangers and vets.
Each cat was then ranked according to friendliness, based on the answers.
The Sphynx scored an average of 22.83, compared with 18.93 for the domestic shorthaired.
Because the numbers of other breeds in the survey were generally small, they were grouped together to score an average for pedigrees of 20.40.
In cases where there were more than a handful of a particular breed, they were found to be friendlier than moggies. Maine Coons and Persians, for instance, scored 20.76 and 20.38 respectively.
Other pedigrees to score highly were Birmans, Somalis, Siamese, Russian blues and exotic shorthairs.
Sphynx cats have become increasingly popular, especially with asthma sufferers because of their lack of fur.