Feline "Five" Personalities

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In August 2017, scientists conducted a study to investigate personality in 2802 cats. 

Researchers asked the cats' owners to fill out a survey measuring 52 personality traits of their feline family member. The surveys were analyzed using a model describing human personality traits.

The study was published in the online journal PLOS One.

It is hoped that a better understanding of feline personalities can be used to fine-tune management approaches to suit individual temperaments, enhancing the health and welfare of pet cats.

The Results

The researchers narrowed down the results to five feline personality types dubbed “The Feline Five”.

They include:

  1. Neuroticism: Defined as insecure, anxious, fearful of people, suspicious and shy.
  2. Etraversion: Defined as (active, vigilant, curious, inquisitive, inventive and smart.
  3. Dominance: Defined as bullying and dominant and aggressive toward other cats.
  4. Impulsiveness: Defined as erratic and reckless.
  5. Agreeableness: Defined as affectionate, friendly to people and gentle.

This is the first time such a large study has been conducted on pet kitties. Most behavioral studies in cats have been conducted in laboratories, animal shelters or feral cat colonies.

According to the researchers, “This gap in knowledge is problematic since the typical environment for domestic cats is arguably the home, with tens of millions of pet cats, some kept exclusively indoors.

Cat owners, veterinarians, animal behaviorists and scientists often focus on the behavioral problems of stressed cats rather than on the behavior of psychologically healthy cats and their inter- and intra-species interactions.

The research team believes the Feline Five has the potential to improve the quality of life of individual pet cats through personalized management strategies.

“Highly Impulsive cats for example, may be reacting to something stressful in their environment, whereas low agreeableness scores, showing irritability, may indicate underlying pain or illness.

Final Thoughts

The idea of animals having distinct personalities with specific characteristics was once dismissed by the scientific community, but that has changed over time. Research has tended to overlook the value of personality assessment and how it may relate to management and care of pet cats.


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