Cats ‘copy’ their owners’ personalities, study finds!

Research from the UK shows that the behavior of these animals can mirror that of their owners!

Animal-human relationships are particularly interesting, as some animals “get along better” with humans than others. The dog, for example, is well known for being “man’s best friend” because it is loyal and affectionate.

The cat, even if it is a domestic animal, can sometimes seem unloving, but it definitely arouses curiosity for the way it behaves with its owner.

A study published in early 2019 in the scientific journal PLOS One surveyed over 3,000 cat owners in the UK who completed a comprehensive questionnaire about their lives and their animals of company. The research was led by Nottingham Trent University and the University of Lincoln, who explored the relationship between owner personality and the lifestyle cats are exposed to on a daily basis.

The survey was made available through Survey Monkey from June to July 2016, and participants were told that the purpose of the study was to investigate owner personality and the cat-human relationship. The requirements for participants were: to be 18 years or older and to have lived with the feline for at least six months. Those who had more than one cat had to choose the one they thought they knew best.

According Plos One , pet owners were scored for the Big Five Inventory (BFI) personality traits: agreeableness, conscientiousness, extroversion, openness, and neuroticism. Additionally, owners provided valuable information for research, such as the physical health, breed, personality, behavior and management of their pets.

The first aspect assessed was the cat’s health, welfare, and lifestyle, followed by the relationship between the cat’s behavioral style, owner demographics, and personality. Finally, the relationship between owner personality, cat selection and handling, and owner satisfaction was explored.

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In the survey, it was found, for example, that animal behavior problems were reported by people with higher neuroticism scores. In other words, the different characteristics were linked to different feline behaviors.

The “kinder” owners had cats with more positive welfare and were more likely to be of normal weight, with less aggressive tendencies. The most neurotic were associated with negative traits in their animals companionship, including overweight, fear, stress, and aggression.

Results of each BFI

More open owners had friendlier felines that were less aloof and aggressive, and were more likely to let the animal roam freely outside the home.

The more conscientious had more friendly cats, less distant and aggressive, less fearful and anxious, and they also had their cat more at home. The most extroverted cat owners had friendly cats, were more likely to have normal-weight cats, and were more likely to allow the animal to roam freely outside the home.

Kinder owners were happier with their animals because they were less aggressive and aloof, and more likely to be of normal weight.

Finally, the most neurotic had cats that were aggressive, anxious, fearful and more likely to have behavioral and health problems, such as stress-related illnesses and overweight. They were also less likely to let the animal roam freely outside. To this list is added the absence of pedigree.

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