Scientists have studied thousands of cats and identified 7 distinct personality traits

Ask any cat to describe their feline friend, and they’ll likely say “jerkface” affectionately to you. Cats also know, however, that each fuzzy little jerkface is its own idiosyncratic self.

Where are they? According to new research, each cat’s personality and behavior can be defined using a combination of just seven traits. But before you get on the defensive at the complexity of your cat’s personality, it’s for a good cause: it can help our friends live happier lives.

“Compared to dogs, less is known about the behavior and personality of cats, and there is a demand to identify the problems and associated risk factors” says veterinary scientist Salla Mikkola from the University of Helsinki in Finland.

“We need more understanding and tools to eliminate problematic behavior and improve cat welfare. The most common behavioral problems associated with cats are related to aggression and inappropriate elimination. [urinating or defecating in the house]. “

The research was undertaken through a 138-question survey, posted on the Animal Welfare website. Petsofi, and filled in by the owners of the cats. This is because cats can behave very differently in a lab environment than the way they behave at home, so observing them in an experiment could give inaccurate results.

The questionnaire asked people to enter, among other things, the sex, age, breed, coat color and main activity of their cat. Humans were also asked to complete the questionnaire a second time after an interval had passed. This allowed the researchers to assess the accuracy of the reports by comparing the two surveys.

After excluding cats whose age could not be verified, as well as duplicate entries and those with too much missing information, the final sample consisted of 4,316 cats. From these, the researchers were able to narrow the cat’s traits down to five personality traits and two behavior traits. They were:

  • Activity / playfulness
  • The fear
  • Aggression towards humans
  • Sociability towards humans
  • Sociability towards cats
  • Litter box issues (such as refusing to use the litter box, or using it improperly)
  • Excessive grooming

Unsurprisingly, the results also revealed that different races lean towards different personality traits.

“The most formidable race was the Russian Blue, while the Abyssinian was the least formidable”, says veterinary scientist Hannes Lohi from the University of Helsinki.

“The Bengal was the most active breed, while the Persian and Exotic were the most passive. The breeds with the most excessive grooming were the Siamese and the Balinese, while the Turkish Van breed scored considerably higher. aggressiveness towards humans and weaker sociability towards cats. “

The aim of this research was not to perform a behavioral analysis of the felines involved, but to demonstrate the validity of the team’s investigation to collect information on feline behavior.

While there are a number of limitations to the research – such as the inability to verify human reports on the breeds and ages of their cats – the team believe that, overall, the model d survey could be a useful tool to understand what motivates cats. .

Additionally, the data collected helped sketch some insight into how cats’ personalities can vary, as well as providing a basis from which future research can be conducted.

“We wanted to get a rough idea of ​​the existence of differences in personality traits between races,” Mikkola said.

“In other studies, we will use more complex models to examine factors that affect traits and problematic behavior. In these models, we will take into consideration, in addition to race, age, gender, health. cats and a wide range of environmental factors. “

The research was published in Animals.

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