Not all cats are created equal. I’m pretty sure you already encounter one massive A.hole of a cat in your life at some point. This is a perfectly normal phenomenon. Cats come in different shapes and forms, various colors and roughly the same adorableness. They also come in a variety of personality traits, just like you and I. As a matter of fact, we could interview any pet owner about his cat and there would be 52 ways of answering the question: How would you describe your cat? Words such as: Irritable, arrogant, playful, lazy…more often than not, comparable to how we would describe a person. The small domestic feline, as true as it is for the members of his large family, exhibits distinct and relevant personality traits that help characterize him according to a study published on August 23, 2017 by the Public Library of Science “PLOS“. Neuroticism, Extraversion, Dominance, Impulsiveness and Agreeableness represent the five reliable personality factors that were found in the analysis of 2,802 pet cats, from South Australia and New Zealand and among 52 personality traits. These traits were named the Feline Five and are used as tools to gauge the emotional state of a pet cats and optimize management and welfare of cats.
What do we mean by Neuroticism? The state of being neurotic, in other words, the degree to which an individual, feline or human tends towards extreme shyness, anxiety, depression…Now, how does that apply to your favourite companion? Simply put, cats that score high on Neuroticism, the shyer they are. Hence, anxious or properly neurotic cats may benefit greatly from bigger hiding places, quieter forts of sorts. On the contrary, cats with lower scores on Neuroticism will tend to roam outside freely, more confidently. They are more adventurous and walk greater distances if not confined to one house.
Next on our list: Extraversion. Cat with high score in this category display a high level of sociability, they’re very curious and outgoing. Incredibly playful and active, these cats are the stereotypes for the whole species for cat enthusiasts. They can get easily bored in a non stimulating environment. Toys and mazes, great attention and parcours should be made available to the cat. You have to provide your fluffy friend with the complex sensory stimulants everyday. On the other end of the spectrum, a low score in Extraversion, namely aimlessness or rather clumsiness may be indicative of a health problem, whether it’s age-related or cognitive dysfunction. In this case, a special treatment may be required and assessment should be done by a profesionnal.
Dominance in high scores will translate a cat that is susceptible to bully other cats in the household. It’s is not an uncommun phenomenon. Dominant cats can cause stress or injury to other cats in the house. They occupy larger areas of the colony room than subdominant ones and tend to gain more weight instead of losing it. Also, it is notable that social licking plays a role in regulating tension between group members or in strengthening social bonds.
Fourth in line: Impulsivness. In simple terms, the crazier, erratic the cat is, the more stressed out he is. A reckless behaviour always indicates a high level of unease and discomfort for the animal. The cat may need adjustment to his environment, to his surrounding, to his household. A low score in impulsivness reflects a comfortable level of balance. Never raise your voice on a cat acting in an impulsive matter. Increasing the level of anxiety and stress would not solve anything. On the contrary, take the time to carress the animal, make him feel safe.
Finally and most importantly: How happy is your cat? According to the study, high scores for Agreeableness (friendly) are likely to represent cats that are well adjusted and ‘happy’, potentially serving as a source of enrichment for other cats. Overall, owners are more satisfied with cats high in agreeableness and low in neuroticism. It’s only natural, friendly and playful cats are a source of happiness in what seems to be a transfer of positive vibes from the cat to the owner. Consequently, a low score in Agreeableness reflects a high level of irritability and often indicates a poor state of socialisation, frustration or injury.
In conclusion, the Feline Five factors are: Neuroticism, Extraversion, Dominance, Impulsiveness and Agreeableness. Knowing exactly the personality traits of your cat may improve your relationship with him and greatly improve your mood.
That’s all for me today. Now you tell me, how is your cat like ?