Full of personality? You bet cats are!

A new study reveals the seven distinct personalities of our feline friends
cat personality Fancy an active, playful cat? Then you might like a Bengal! (Photo 103915326 © Sergey Taran | Dreamstime.com )


Dogs are fun loving, hyper, loyal, friendly animals—up for anything, just say the word!

Cats, meanwhile, are loners—aloof, cool creatures who sleep all day and sometimes take a while to warm up to people and other animals. (Careful, don't get scratched!)

Sound familiar? These are the most common reputations of the world's most common house pets: dogs and cats. While these opinions are pretty glowing for dogs (they're our 'best friend', after all!), they kind of paint cats as, well, difficult!

But a new study is challenging that by using science to prove something that cat owners have known for years. Cats are not only complex (and loving), they have distinct personalities that are different from breed to breed. After studying over 4,300 cats, these veterinarian scientists were able to nail down the seven core traits that inform who a cat is and how it interacts with the world around it.

Are you ready to know your cat a little better? Let's dive in!

The magnificent seven traits

Embed from Getty Images

The study found that Russian Blues were the most fearful cat breed. (Getty Embed)

According to the study, the seven main traits of a domestic cat breed come down to five personality traits and two behavioural ones. They are:

Personality

  • Activity/playfulness
  • Fearfulness
  • Aggression towards humans
  • Sociability towards humans
  • Sociability towards cats

Behavioural

  • Litterbox issues
  • Excessive grooming

The research was conducted by reaching out to cat owners themselves. People were given a 138-question survey that they filled out by observing their cat at home. They did this at home because that is where kitties are most likely to be themselves! They also include the cat's age, breed, sex, and colouring. And to try and make the results as accurate as possible, they had the owners fill out the survey a second time.

What they found

According the website for the University of Helsinki, the study was able to identify that certain breeds were more likely to exhibit certain traits.

"The most fearful breed was the Russian Blue, while the Abyssinian was the least fearful," says Professor Hannes Lohi from the University of Helsinki and the Folkhälsan Research Center. "The Bengal was the most active breed, while the Persian and Exotic were the most passive. The breeds exhibiting the most excessive grooming were the Siamese and Balinese, while the Turkish Van breed scored considerably higher in aggression towards humans and lower in sociability towards cats."

All in all, it's not only an interesting study for cat owners to contemplate, it's a neat guide for anyone thinking that a cat might be an animal that they would like to welcome into their home! If you curious about where a favourite breed scores on the seven traits, we're including the charts at the bottom of this post.

And to close, here is OWL's Senior Writer John's cat, Violet, who is a Siberian. When reached for comment on the study she said, "Sounds about right to me ... now when is dinner?!"

For breeds that weren't that common in the survey, they were listed under 'other breeds'. (Creative Commons/Mikkola, S.; Salonen, M.; Hakanen, E.; Sulkama, S.; Lohi, H. Reliability and Validity of Seven Feline Behavior and Personality Traits. Animals 2021, 11, 1991. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11071991)


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