ARE YOU A CAT PERSON?

  • February 27, 2019
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ARE YOU A CAT PERSON?

Whether you are an “agreeable” type or have neurotic leanings, researchers who surveyed more than 3,000 cat owners in the UK found that your personality is likely making an impact on how your cat behaves.

University of London and Nottingham Trent University researchers point out that the personality/behavior matchup may be a matter of selection—that is, a neurotic person may be more likely to pick out a cat that seems to be neurotic. Also, they found, neurotic people tend to go for pedigrees. (Neuroticism refers to traits such as proneness to moodiness, anger, anxiety and stress.)

Even so, you will have a “parental” influence. From the moment you adopt a kitten, your personality and behavior affect your pet’s habits—good and bad—as well as its health and well-being.

Freedom for Fluffy

Should you let Fluffy out? Giving a cat freedom to roam says a lot about the caretaker and the cat’s health.

  • Owners that give their cat unrestricted access to the outdoors tend to be extroverts. (Only about 30% of those surveyed gave their pets total freedom.) They also had lower scores on neuroticism and openness than those who had indoor-only cats. (Openness suggests a tendency toward creativity and intellectual curiosity.)
  • As it possibly can for your kids, allowing Fluffy to roam wherever or whenever was significantly associated with illness in the animal.
  • There was no difference in sickness among cats who were kept indoors exclusively or that were allowed outdoors but brought in at night or when someone was home.

What Your Cat Says About You

Furthermore, as with parents and their children, cats’ behaviors tend to mirror their caretakers. The researchers found:

  • Owners of “gregarious” cats—the highly sociable kind—scored high on extroversion, openness and conscientiousness.
  • Owners of aggressive cats scored high on measures of neuroticism.
  • Owners of aloof cats or those that tend to avoid contact scored significantly lower own agreeableness, openness and conscientiousness. (People who are agreeable tend to be compassionate and cooperative.)
  • Owners of scaredy cats—the anxious and fearful ones—scored significantly higher on neuroticism and lower on conscientiousness.
  • Owners of many cats had lower scores on extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism but higher on scores for conscientiousness and openness.

Whatever your personality style, it’s reassuring to know the scientists found no consistent association between the owners’ personalities and their cats’ bad behavior, like scratching up the furniture or not using the litter box.

Reference: Finka LR, Ward J, Farnworth MJ, Mills DS (2019) Owner personality and the wellbeing of their cats share parallels with the parent-child relationship. PLoS ONE 14(2): e0211862. https:// doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0211862