Defining our own personalities has become somewhat of an obsession, with countless tests popping up to decipher the fundamentals of just who we are. And now, perhaps, our cats can join in on the fun. Move over Myers-Briggs and the “Big Five”, a new feline-focussed survey is in town, finding that cats too have a succinct number of purr-sonality traits.
The study, published in the journal Animals, has found that seven traits are responsible for the personalities and behaviors of our feline friends. What’s more, these traits vary between breeds and could be used to help improve the welfare of our pets.
Often overshadowed by dogs when it comes to research, there’s not much out there about cats’ personalities. “Compared to dogs, less is known about the behaviour and personality of cats, and there is demand for identifying related problems and risk factors. We need more understanding and tools to weed out problematic behaviour and improve cat welfare,” said author and doctoral researcher Salla Mikkola in a statement.
The researchers made a138-question survey aimed at cat-owners, designed to provide information on their fluffy companion’s background, health, and behaviors. Among other things, owners were asked to provide the sex, breed, coat color, date of birth, and main activity of their cats. A total of 4,316 cats were included in the final sample.
From the meowntain of responses, the researchers were able to identify the following seven traits – five personality and two behavioral:
- Aggression towards humans
- Sociability towards humans
- Sociability towards cats
- Litterbox issues (failure to use it or use it well)
- Excessive grooming
The study also found that breeds, as well as individuals, have distinct personality and behavioral traits. Of the 26 breeds studied, “the most fearful breed was the Russian Blue, while the Abyssinian was the least fearful,” according to study author Professor Hannes Lohi.
“The Bengal was the most active breed, while the Persian and Exotic were the most passive,” Lohi continued. “The breeds exhibiting the most excessive grooming were the Siamese and Balinese, while the Turkish Van breed scored considerably higher in aggression towards humans and lower in sociability towards cats.”
Unlike in previous studies, the team assessed the reliability of their questionnaire by having owners complete it again several months later. Therefore, Lohi believes it to be “the most extensive and significant survey so far, and it provides excellent opportunities for further research.”
This future research, Mikkola said, “will utilize more complex models to examine factors that affect traits and problematic behavior. In these models, we will take into consideration, in addition to its breed, the cat's age, gender, health, and a wide range of environmental factors."
But for now, the research conducted in the study will enable experts and owners to identify genetic, environmental, and personality factors that might determine feline behavior. Paw-some!