Every Cat Logo

Personality in pet cats

Litchfield CA, Quinton G, et al. The ‘Feline Five’: An exploration of personality in pet cats (Felis Catus).  PLoS ONE 12(8): e0183455.

Cats have unique personalities, but little is known in the scientific world about typical cat behavior. Few studies have been done on cats living in the home. A standardized accurate species specific behavioral understanding would facilitate optimal housing and welfare. Basic understanding of behavior and signals would allow owners and veterinarians alike to assess social stress in their cats and provide optimal well-being in their home.

These investigators assessed personality traits of over 2800 pet cats in New Zealand and Australia. Five reliable personality factors were found using principal axis factor analysis: Neuroticism, Extraversion, Dominance, Impulsiveness and Agreeableness. Each cat scored along a continuum of low to high for each of these traits. Cats with unusually low or high scores would allow the owner to pursue advice and consider changes to their environment or management. For example, cats that score high on neuroticism or are shy may benefit from additional hiding places or access to quiet places. Conversly, cats with low scores may be tempted to roam further if allowed outside compounding the risk for disease transmission or injury.

Accurate assessment of pet cat personality may help owners manage their cats in a way that optimises cat welfare. Additionally, a greater understanding of cat personality may help owners notice changes in their cat and seek professional assessment by a veterinarian and/or animal behaviour specialist.  (MK)

See also:
Vitaly Shreve KR, Udell MA. What’s inside your cat’s head? A review of cat (Felis silvestris catus) cognition research past, present and future. Anim Cogn. 2015 Nov;18(6):1195-206.