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In more detail, the question is whether and how much cats notice cat breeds in other cats. Including, perhaps, not strictly breed but factors such as ferality, or a handicap. This is something I wondered about recently, however, may also become a practical concern for someone who keeps a cat and thinks of adopting another.

Differences between cat breeds may be more or less pronounced; of course some are quite hard to overlook (size; fur; folded ears; bobtail; etc.) even for relatively inexperienced humans. Do cats register these or perhaps additional differences?

While it may be difficult to tell what cats notice, I expect some reactions may be observable. For example, cats may act friendlier to other cats of roughly the same size or general appearance; cats may exhibit mating preferences; some olfactory preferences might be manifest; etc. It may even be that particular breeds get on well while others do not.

I am interested both in research done in this area (if any) and in individual experience.

This may or may not be analogous to dogs' perceptions of breed; I do not know.

  • Apologies; no accusation was intended, just an observation that cats are more rational than humans in this regard. (And I actually decided against posting the comment and didn't realize it had gone out; apologies again.) – keshlam Jan 10 '16 at 10:10
  • @keshlam Thanks then, I do not feel "accused" but I'm glad that comment is gone, because it leads people on wrong track, I think. You may have a point (and I would be interested in its substantiation), however, I think we know pitifully little about how cats (dogs, rabbits) perceive the variety of species, breeds, lifestyles, and conditions of their peers. Hence the question. I think we should differentiate between what we know and what we think we know. Feel free to edit the question where you think I failed to make this point. – anemone Jan 10 '16 at 10:17
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    Given that "breeds" simply do not exist in the wild without physical separation or speciation to divide the breeding populations, and given that breed distinctions rapidly vanish among feral populations and indeed among housecats unless they are unable to select their own mate, I would say there's pretty darned strong empirical evidence that appearance is not considered especially significant by most species unless it implies something directly about breeding potential. – keshlam Jan 10 '16 at 10:25
  • @keshlam That's a good point. Still, this question is not solely about mating or even about appearance. It is about "noticing". Other factors that we (humans) notice less (voice, smell) may still be perceived as differentiating. – anemone Jan 10 '16 at 10:39
  • As far as dogs go, I have seen a Chihuahua attempting to mate with an apparently willing Old English Sheepdog. Whatever criteria the female was judging him by were obviously not at all related to those i would have expected. – keshlam Jan 10 '16 at 10:49
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I have a three-legged cat named Meko, so I can answer from the handicap perspective. With my own cats and other cats that she's run into, I've noticed that her handicap makes other cats a lot nicer to her, almost like they are mothering her? I have three other cats in addition to Meko, and I have noticed that the other cats seem to like to take care of her. She is constantly getting bathed by the other three cats, for example.

Another thing I thought was interesting; I used to take my cats to a friend's house to visit. My friend has a cat too, and her cat does not react well at all to strange cats in her house, lots of angry cat noises and hissing. Interesting enough, when she met Meko, she did not hiss or growl at all; she actually rolled over on her back, showed her stomach, and made chirping meows. It was very bizarre since we've never seen her react like that to any other cat before or since then! Meko wasn't being very friendly back, but the other cat still refused to growl at her even though Meko was intruding on her territory.

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