Researchers Identify Five Cat Personalities; Three Are Similar to Humans

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By Samme

(Picture: The Advertiser/Tricia Watkinson)

Researchers at the University of Southern Australia asked more than 2,800 cat owners to take an online survey and came up with some interesting results, according to an article in The Advertiser of Australia. It turns out that cats, like we humans, can be classified by five distinct personality types, and can be assigned high or low scores in all five categories. For cats, the so-called “Feline Five” are as follows: outgoing, skittish, dominant, friendly and spontaneous.

(Source: UniSA Cat Tracker Project)

The Big Five for humans are agreeableness, extraversion, openness to experience, conscientiousness and neuroticism. And yes, you can test yourself by clicking this link. Unfortunately, only cat owners who live in New Zealand or Australia can take the kitty survey.  Aimee Heywood (pictured above) completed the survey and learned that her cat, Theo, scored high for curiosity.

Cat owners in these two countries were given a list of 52 personality traits and behaviors, then asked to rate their cats on a scale of 1 to 7. The scientists used computer analysis to aggregate the results, according to a report in the Washington Post. Interestingly, three of the five personality types assigned to cats correspond to humans, according to the same article, which cited researcher Philip Roetman, who heads up “citizen science” projects for the university, including a Cat Tracker program aimed at learning more about cats’ movements.

(Source UniSA Cat Tracker Project)

Roetman said the results suggest that cats are more like us than we might think. “Skittishness is similar to neuroticism in people, outgoingness is similar to extroversion and friendliness is akin to agreeableness,” he said. “The big difference in cats is dominance and spontaneity.” In general, “People are fascinated by cats; they have really intriguing personalities,” Roetman told The Advertiser. “From a research perspective, it’s really interesting to understand and look at the personalities of different animals, especially when we are talking about management.”

(Source: UniSA Cat Tracker Project)

The Advertiser interviewed high school teacher Lou Davy, who takes her cat Bagherra to school every day. Bagherra was found abandoned on campus in 2012. She calls him “the most placid of cats” and says that his “easygoing nature” has made him a big success with students. “He’s the perfect school cat really.” So she wasn’t surprised when Bagherra scored highly on outgoingness and friendliness.


Roetman said the results were useful because owners could “do things differently based on that cat and what it likes, to have a better relationship with their cat.” Researchers learned that indoor cats tend to be friendlier than outdoor cats, and Roetman said that people who keep their cats indoors should feel good about that. Here’s some other information from the study that provides further insight into how to bring out the best in your cat.

(Source: UniSA Cat Tracker Project)
(Source: Facebook/Discovery Circle and Cat Tracker)

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