Psychologists Analyze What a Cat’s Personality Says About Their Owner

Cats are mysterious. They are aloof and cold creatures. These notions are now considered to be old-fashioned views of cats and their personalities. More and more, people are acknowledging that there are more to cats than meets the eyes. Cats are expressive of their emotions and personalities; it’s just something that might take a trained eye or a close one to differentiate.

In fact, a recent study suggests that a cat’s personality might even be reflective of its owners. Upon closer consideration, it makes absolute sense, but the study makes a solid scientific argument.

The research focused on the Big Five personality traits as posited in psychological trait theory. Also referred to as the five-factor model (FFM) or the OCEAN model, the Big Five includes Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. The researchers focused particularly on the neuroticism trait, as common preconception always assumed that cat owners are more naturally bent to be neurotic beings.

When it comes to parenting, studies have shown that parents with a more neurotic predisposition are more likely to have children that have lower well-being. The prediction for the Big Five personality trait study with cats is that the result would be the same.

Sure enough, the results proved that notion to be true. However, there were also other surprising facts that came about with the study. A total of 3331 participants were recruited, and over 3000 of those that participated were female. The participants were required to have had their cats for at least 6 months. If the participants owned multiple cats, they were required to answer questions only about the cat they felt they knew best. Out of the entire study group, 80% reported satisfaction regarding their cats’ behaviors and only 20% reported general behavioral difficulties.

According to this article, cats have ways of expressing themselves. From purring to kneading to sniffing faces, cats communicate with their owners in so many ways. Although it would naturally take some time to learn of your cat’s communicative cues, it also takes much attention and care. When at times it might feel as if your cat is being cold, it might actually be telling you something else. Understanding these notions—and perhaps your own personality as well—will help you understand your cat’s personality even more.

The Big Five study showed results that were substantially expected. It turns out that cat owners that were predominantly open had cats that were friendlier and far less aggressive than usual. These cats also were more inclined to be more affectionate and less aloof. Surprisingly however, open cat owners were also the ones that were unlikely to bring their cats out to play freely in the open. This was an interesting find given the idea that cat owners that have a more open predisposition are more likely to let their cats roam free, but the study suggested otherwise. It also showed that open cat parents tended to have more cats in general.

In terms of Conscientiousness, the study showed that conscientious cat owners were likely to also have cats that were less aggressive and friendlier. These cats were also less aloof and less anxious. The cats were less fearful in most scenarios as well. The same goes for cat owners that were more extroverted. In addition, their cats were the most likely to have normal weight—possibly because the study found that these cats were the ones allowed to roam around freely outdoors.

There are varying stances regarding cats being allowed to roam around freely outdoors. There are obvious risks and dangers to letting your cat go about outdoors, including several health risks and that of getting lost, stolen, or hurt. However, there are also many benefits to letting your cat go outdoors. For one, environmental enrichment provides cats with much needed natural stimulation. It makes absolute sense that extroverted cat parents are more likely to allow their cats to get free play outdoors. They’re also likely to have fewer cats in general.

Agreeable pet owners have cats that are generally similar to those mentioned above, but the difference comes in general relational happiness between cat and owner. The study showed that agreeable pet owners were more likely to be happy with their cats. Basically four out of the Big Five personality traits reflected upon cat owners showed much similar results.

As expected, the study showed that pet owners with a neurotic personality trait were the ones likely to have cats with behavioral problems. Their cats were the ones likely to be aggressive, anxious, and fearful. These cats were also likely to have stress-related illnesses and various other medical problems. The study predicted that a cat parent’s neuroticism were linked to a cat’s behavioral problems. Neurotic cat owners are more likely to be overprotective and authoritarian in nature—traits that are not conducive to a positive cat environment.

The study also proposes that it’s likely that cat owners somehow find cats that already match their personality. Neurotic individuals may be more inclined to get cats that are more aloof, aggressive, and anxious themselves. It’s noted that cat owners are happier with cats that match their needs for affection and overall warmth. Neurotic cat owners aren’t likely to be affectionate, and neurotic cats aren’t likely to be that way either. While no study could perfectly predict outcomes, this one in particular shed much light into cat personalities and traits.

One important point to note is that cats are very good at hiding their ills and pains. Even the most attentive cat owner—regardless of personality trait—might fail to notice the subtlest of cues. At times when your cat might seem aloof to you, it might be going through some pains. It truly pays very much to know your cat and to know it as well as you could. This would be the simplest and best way for you and your cat to get along.

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