The 5 personality traits of cats

The idea that animals have personalities is something which, although common sense seems to point out the obvious, turns out to be something that has received very little study.

Fortunately, in recent years, some have wanted to know what are the personality dimensions of certain animal species, especially those that provide benefits or companionship to humans.

One of the most in-depth investigations in this regard has established, still provisionally, what are the personality traits of cats. Below we’ll see a bit more about animal research and the feline personality model.

    Personality traits of cats

    In popular culture as well as in academia, personality or temperament is understood as a series of patterns of behavior that differ from individual to individual, which may be quite normal and adaptive or, otherwise, assume this. we called personality disorders.

    This same concept has been extrapolated to the animal world, repeatedly trying to study what are the personality traits of various species, but always focusing on proximity, both in space and in phylogenetics. beings are concerned. That is why most research has focused on non-human primatesMainly chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans, in addition to dogs, given their usefulness in multiple professions such as law enforcement.

    However, cats, while not one of the most recurring animals in the professional arena, are some of the most popular among pets, which is said to be a double-edged sword by species. On the one hand, millions of cats are adopted every year around the world, and when the households that have adopted them see that it is not possible to establish a good coexistence, there are also millions of cats that are re-adopted, abandoned or, worst of all, sacrificed.

    That is why try to elucidate what their behavioral patterns are, what personality traits each of them has and how these can be beneficial or harmful to people has become a vital task for the welfare of cats and those who adopt them. Knowing the animal’s personality makes it easier to find a suitable home, to use it as a therapeutic animal (feline therapy), to know if it has veterinary problems and to look for strategies to change its temperament.

      How to measure the personality of a cat?

      As you can understand, it is much easier to determine what is the behavior of a human being to understand what is the behavior of an animal, be it a cat, a dog, a frog or a horse. With adult humans, it is sufficient to administer a personality questionnaire, such as the NEO-PIR, answer it, and analyze the responses afterwards. In the case of an animal, it is necessary to observe its behavior patterns, to record them and to draw conclusions depending on your relationships with others, your level of activity, your search or not for the company …

      In the first researches on the feline personality, the classical observation method was used, a method very recurrent in ethology and which is ideal for studying species of primates. This tool is characterized by being very objective, since what is seen is recorded, the interpretations of the researcher will come after obtaining the complete recording of the animal.

      However, over time it turned out to be better, especially for domestic cats, ask them directly from their owners, using standardized questionnaires, What personality traits have they attributed to their pets. Although this route is more subjective, much more convenient, consumes less time, and since the owner has spent a lot of time living with the animal, his opinion is relatively reliable.

      The five feline factors model

      To date, the largest research that has addressed the personality of cats is that of the Lichfield Group 2017, in which approximately 2000 cats residing in South Australia and New Zealand were sampled. During the survey, the owners of the cats were given a questionnaire in which they were asked to indicate the traits they attributed to their pets.

      This study is extremely innovative, as it was not limited to seeing where in a continuum or a dimension, subjectively chosen, the personality of a particular cat could be located, but sought to establish a model of personality similar to that of Five. Factors or Big Five in McCrae and Costa, the only felines. In the classic model, the following dimensions conform it.

      • Neuroticism
      • extroversion
      • Openness to experience
      • responsibility
      • cordiality

      The theoretical framework of the model suggests that the personality of the individual is determined by the position in which he finds himself in each of these dimensions, which each constitute a continuum with two opposing poles.

      Research by Lichfield et al. (2017) concluded that there are also 5 personality dimensions that can be found in domestic cats, Being those neuroticism, extraversion, domination, impulsiveness and cordiality.

      1. Neuroticism

      This dimension could be understood as that of the classic neuroticism of the McCrae and Costa model.

      Cats who score high in this dimension are often insecure, anxious, scared of people, and generally shy.. That is why a house with a very neurotic cat should check if there are places where it can be easily hidden and feel safe, especially when visiting.

      On the other hand, cats are less neurotic and must therefore be supervised more often, because they will be animals that will not be afraid to get too close to which stimuli, and therefore risk having an accident.

      2. Extraversion

      The dimension of feline extroversion is a combination of its human counterpart and the dimension of openness to experience.

      In this dimension they can be found traits like being active, curious, vigilant, curious, determined and inventive.

      Outgoing cats are more intelligent, inquisitive, and self-initiated. This is why they are advised to grow up in environments where stimuli are numerous and with cognitive complexity. If not it will be easier for them to get bored and look for their own distractions, Such as scratching doors, breaking furniture.

      Small, outgoing cats are also less intelligent and seek less novelty. Because of this, they tend to be more sedentary and not attracted to cognitive stimuli, which can worsen health problems associated with aging.

      This, in turn, will involve physical problems and cognitive dysfunction, which will increase visits to the vet.

      3. Dominance

      Dominance is one of the dimensions in which it differs from the classic Big Five model.

      In that case, this dimension includes aspects such as harassment of other animals, aggressive behavior, territory marking, Prevent anyone from approaching your safe zone or declaring themselves as yours.

      High scores in this dimension might reflect the fact that the cat has a tendency to hurt other cats in the home, which is said to be a source of stress, conflict, aggression and harm, as well as lower overall health.

      4. Impulsivity

      While this is not exactly the responsibility dimension of the classical model, it could be seen as something similar, only at the opposite pole.

      In the dimension of impulsivity, we would have characteristics like the adopt erratic behaviors, take risks without thinking too much about it, Not knowing how to wait …

      High impulsivity scores may indicate living in a stressful environment, with negative effects on health and well-being of the cat.

      When faced with these cases, owners may need to seek advice from a feline trainer or feline expert to find out the source of the stress.

      Low impulsivity scores usually indicate that the cat is well adapted to the house in which he has had to live, in which he feels satisfied and enjoys his routine.

      5. Cordiality

      Cordiality is another dimension that is said to be the same as in the McCrae and Costa model. in characteristics such as being affectionate, friendly with people and other animals are included.

      High scores on cordiality tend to indicate that cats are happy at home, that they are well adjusted, and in turn, these happy cats can be a source of behavioral enrichment for other cats.

      These types of cats can be very useful for therapeutic purposes, such as in feline therapy for humans and other animals,

      Low scores in this dimension can result in cats being irritable and aggressive towards people, may reflect poor socialization, become frustrated, or suffer from some form of illness or pain.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Costa PT, McCrae RR (1992). Four ways are five basic factors. Pers Individual Dif. 13: 653-665.
      • Source: Litchfield CA, Quinton G, Tindle H, Chiera B, Kikillus KH, Roetman P (2017) The “Feline Five”: An Exploration of Personality in Pet Cats (Felis catus). PLoS ONE 12 (8): e0183455.

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