Every cat lover knows that each kitty is special and full of personality. Feline behaviors vary depending on the owner and the presence of other animals in the household. Although we may have loved cats since they ruled in Egypt with the Pharaohs, we as a society have not taken a serious look into the factors and behaviors that create the varying personalities we see in cats, both small domestics and their larger wild counterparts.
Recent research into the underlying individual personality traits of domestic cats has shed light onto interesting behaviors. This information can aide cat owners and handlers in understanding how to create happy and healthy living environments for feline companions based upon their personality. A study by Carla Litchfield and her colleagues investigated the “Feline Five” personality traits, similar to the “Big Five” personality traits in humans. The personality categories for non-human mammals have been categorized as neuroticism, extraversion, dominance, impulsiveness and agreeableness. All of these are linked to specific behaviors that can explain personality and communicate information about the cat to the owner.
Litchfield and her team did an intensive study using questionnaires for 2,802 cats  in Australia. The goal of the study was to determine the amount of reliable factors that could demonstrate personality in domestic cats and to classify them into traits. The study found that neurotic cats tended to display insecure, anxious, fearful, and shy behaviors whereas agreeable cats were more affectionate, gentle, and friendly towards people. The impulsive kitties showed erratic and reckless behaviors and dominant cats were found to be aggressive bullies. An interesting observation in the study was that high scores in extroversion were linked to self-control similar to the Scottish wildcats, and these cats also tended to be active, curious, and inventive in their typical behaviors.
This information is helpful for anyone with cats because this understanding of feline personality traits, one is better able to care for and maintain a nurturing and happy life for their fur babies. If a cat scores significantly high or low in any category, there may be an underlying stressor which diminishes quality of life. Extremely neurotic cats may suffer from additional anxieties that lead to skittishness, if recognizes the problem can be addressed and the cat’s anxieties alleviated. Low scores in agreeableness which are seen in aggressive behaviors can indicate a lack of socialization, neglect/abuse, frustration/irritation, or it is acting out from a prolonged pain or sickness . These signs are important to listen to as a cat owner because it helps to maintain a satisfying life for pet.
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 Litchfield, Carla A., et al. “The ‘Feline Five’: An Exploration of Personality in Pet Cats (Felis catus).” Plos One, vol. 12, no. 8, 2017, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0183455.
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