Part 3: Overview‎ > ‎

Temperament and Behaviour

This page is under construction. Topics are completed on an as-needs basis, driven by questions from our readers.  Last update:  April 20, 2014. 

Myths and beliefs

"Chinchillas are bad tempered animals"

  • Some people belief that longhair cats are bad tempered cats that byte and  scratch people. 
  • Those people probably had an encounter during a grooming or bathing session, or heard about experiences where a person was bitten by a longhair.
  • The truth is that a longhair cat in general is a loving animal, but the cat may retaliate by biting in self defense if pain is inflicted during a grooming session.
  • Cats acting aggressive on shows occurs in all breeds, not only in longhairs. In most of the cases the cat feels unsafe being handled by strangers who are not handling the cat in a way comfortable to the cat.
  • However, if a longhair cat acts aggressive during handling on a show bench, a potential cause may be that the pre-show preparation caused the skin to be painful and that being handled by strangers is just too much for the cat to cope with.


  • Often one hears the phrase: “one should breed for temperament”.
  • Breeders are advised not to breed with “bad-tempered” cats or cats that have “wild personalities”.
  • There is no scientific evidence that supports the above belief.
  • How the kitten was raised, combined with the environmental factors in which the cat is housed,  play a significant role in the cat's temperament.

Factors that influence cat temperament


  • Before making unjustified statements on the genetics involved in establishing cat personalities, it is wise to look at animal personalities in general. 
  • There are so-called “wild cats” who seems to be untameable.
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First few days of life

  • Kittens are born with their ears and eyes closed. 
  • In practice, it means that they as effectively deaf and blind: they cannot hear or see.
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First awareness

 First weeks

 Other animals

 Human appearance

 Noise of environment

 Litter size


 Size of cattery

 Hurting when groomed

Cat personalities


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Case studies and lessons learned

Dear Nikki

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Dinky Dragon's story

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Tips from catteries


    "To be owned by a Chinchilla is a comforting experience when you are feeling low,  captivating when they are in a playful mood and a general tonic to a weary heart.  They are extremely sensitive to moods, very aristocratic and insistent on having their own way at their own time.
   When training them have a lot of patience, and be sure to praise them when they do something right. 
   They will accept you as their own parent and you will have many rewards.  Remember what you put in is what you get out!  The more attention and  affection you give your pet,  the more healthy psychologically and physically it will be.  Talk to your cat,  they love it and answer you in return.  Never chase them to get hold of them,  rather pick them up with slow movements.  Give them lots of toys and rotate it weekly to prevent boredom.  They love small balls and foam rubber toys & balls of scrap paper.”


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How to handle wriggling cats

Why do cats wriggle

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  • Where a cat's head connects to the neck is a loose patch of skin called the scruff. 
  • Mother cats carry their kittens in their mouths by grabbing them at the scruff.
  • As the kitten is lifted off the ground, it automatically becomes limp and seems immobilized as it is being carried. 
  • This is a natural reflex of neonatal animals and helps facilitate the transporting process [33].
  • A wriggly cat may instinctively relax if you grab him/her firmly by the scruff and lift him/her slightly in the air for a few seconds or alternatively, press his/her chest downwards whilst holding the scruff.
  • Warning: care should be taken on not hurting the cat during scruffing as well as to avoid the cultivating of negative behavior [32] [33].
  • Some cat owners propose safe scruffing by clipping two or more laundry pins to the scruff. 

Tellington TTouch (R)

  • Tellington TTouch is a registered trademark.
  • Website:
  • The Tellington TTouch  is a method based on circular movements of the fingers and hands all over the body. 
  • The intent of the TTouch is to activate the function of the cells and awaken cellular intelligence - a little like "turning on the electric lights of the body."
  • TTouch uses a combination of specific touches, lifts, and movement exercises that help to release tension and increase body awareness. 
  • This allows the animal to be handled without provoking typical fear responses. 
  • The animal can then more easily learn new and more appropriate behaviors. 
  • A video on YouTube shows how Dr Linda Tellington-Jones uses TTouch to calm down a nervous cat [v-1].
    View the video at