The Cat Doctor The Cat Doctor’s Feline Temperament Pairs Back to Introduction

Compliant or Defiant --- Response to adversity / obstacles

This temperament pair reflects the degree to which an individual cat has the need or the ability to control the world around him.   The compliant cat is all about conflict avoidance, while the defiant cat is all about control.   When emotionally aroused, the preference for a fight, flight, freeze, or negotiation strategy is an aspect of this temperament trait.   The extent to which a cat will accept our handling and bend to our will may change over the life of the cat and is influenced by prior experience, however, a fundamentally passive or active style of response does tend to remain consistent for an individual cat.   For some, resistance is the first option considered, for others it is the last.

The compliant cat is generally easy to work with.   He has a broad tolerance for physical manipulation, or at least he chooses passive resistance over active defiance.   Compliant cats generally adopt a 'go along to get along' attitude.   Nail trimming, grooming, pilling and placement in a carrier are accomplished with little fan fare.   You can usually pick up and hold a compliant cat.   A cat that will allow a child to pick him up and then just hang there is most definitely a very compliant cat.   Compliance has its limits in any cat.   Previous negative experience or perception of hostile intent may provoke vigorous resistance in an otherwise easy going cat.   The compliant cat just allows a greater latitude before becoming unruly or aggressively defensive.

The defiant cat on the other hand is more easily provoked to active resistance.   Whether fearful or angry the defiant cat resists manipulation and wants to be in control.   The defiant cat often resents and actively resists confinement.   Although some cats will become hysterical in the face of adversity and loss of control, indications that your cat has a defiant nature may actually be subtle.   Most cats will bow to the superior size and ability of human beings to control situations and individuals.   (at least for the moment)   Whether a cat concedes the battle with a willing grace or a grudging acceptance is often the key when assessing this trait.

  It has been my experience that cats are better at training human beings than human beings are at training cats, therefore a cat who prefers to be in charge can be dificult for most people to handle.   Most of the time it is easy to just allow your cat to have his way.   Cats are fairly reasonable in their expectations.   It is only in those instances when a difference of opinion results in conflict, like a trip to the veterinarian, that a definant nature makes things more dificult.