Study identifies 5 common cat personality factors. (No, “cat-itude” isn’t one of them.)

By Seriously Science | September 25, 2017 6:00 am


If you’re a “cat person”, I’m willing to bet that you are already saying “Of course cats have personalities!” But which parts of your feline friend’s personality are just part of being a cat, and which vary from cat to cat? Well, according to this study, there are five traits that account for the majority of the variability between cat personalities: Neuroticism, Extraversion, Dominance, Impulsiveness and Agreeableness. Not only that, but this variation can sometimes be attributed to environmental or health differences: “Highly Impulsive cats for example, may be reacting to something stressful in their environment, whereas cats with low Agreeableness scores, showing irritability may indicate underlying pain or illness.” Of course, if you are a dog person, I’m willing to bet you are already assigning those personality factors to your cat-owning relatives.

The ‘Feline Five’: An exploration of personality in pet cats (Felis catus).

“The idea of animals possessing personalities was once dismissed by the scientific community, but has since gained traction with evidence for potential application to improve captive animal management and welfare. Although domestic cats are popular companion animals, research has tended to overlook the value of personality assessment for management and care of pet cats. The aim of this study was to investigate personality in a large sample of pet cats with a view to understanding practical implications for pet cats in the home. Personality of 2,802 pet cats, from South Australia and New Zealand, was rated by their owners utilising a survey measuring 52 personality traits. Five reliable personality factors were found using principal axis factor analysis: Neuroticism, Extraversion, Dominance, Impulsiveness and Agreeableness. Implications for the ‘Feline Five’ are discussed in relation to their potential application to improving the management and welfare of pet cats. Highly Impulsive cats for example, may be reacting to something stressful in their environment, whereas cats with low Agreeableness scores, showing irritability may indicate underlying pain or illness. Thus, the need for a systematic and holistic approach to personality that includes both the individual pet cat and its environment is recommended, and opens the door to future interdisciplinary intervention.”

Related content:
Yes, cats really do have facial expressions.
Scientists make “species-appropriate” music just for cats. Listen here!
Surprising study finds that cats actually prefer people over food.

  • Uncle Al

    academia + diversity = cacademia
    Cease matriculating and graduating intellectual Inner Cities.

    • Robert Guilfoyle

      Quiet, you bumbling racist.

      • Uncle Al

        I do not dishonor the American flag, I salute it, you Progressive swine. How’s that?

        • Maia

          Both of you are acting in a very juvenile manner!

          • AlDavisJr

            Like spoiled kittens….

    • think4yerself

      academia + uniformity = monoscopy
      Willingness to look outside your box allows for growth.

  • RebelSoldier

    Over the past decades different researchers have compiled lists of human emotions. The lists are always different which gives each new assessment of what human emotions consist of its momentary cachet and pull on research dollars. The number of human emotions compiled always varies. If the researchers, who are human, can’t agree on what are the irreducible list of human emotions how can we trust a human who comes up with exactly five personality traits that can differ from cat to cat. If there were ample research grants and Nobel Prizes being awarded to cat psychology researchers there would be an endless stream of differing lists of the things that can differ from cat to cat.

  • temporary guest

    “Neuroticism, Extraversion, Dominance, Impulsiveness and Agreeableness”

    Sounds like someone has been doing human studies to learn something about cats.

    • sabelmouse

      we anthropomorphise. i doubt we could even do without that.
      but having 2 very different cats in the house i tend to agree with those.

      • Jim

        Very true.

      • Maia

        Yes, they might be the most common…but I disagree (lifelong cat person) that all cat behavior/expression fits neatly into 5 boxes, end of story. Jut not true. Same with humans!

        • sabelmouse

          that i agree on. but some think animals have none.


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