In detail

Cat personality: can the character be determined?


Australian scientists have started looking for certain characteristics that they can use to describe the cat personality. They started with the so-called "Big Five", five personality traits in humans, which determine the individual character in their entirety. Cats can have different personalities - Shutterstock / MaraZe

In personality psychology for people, the "big five" or "five factors" model for determining personality has become established. The character of the person is assigned five factors, which can be weaker or more pronounced.

Determine character: the five personality factors

In humans, the following five factors are used to describe personality:

  • neuroticism
  • extraversion
  • Openness to experiences
  • conscientiousness
  • compatibility

Neuroticism describes emotional stability or instability, extraversion stands for how reserved or sociable someone is. If the openness to experience is weak, people tend to be cautious and prefer to cling to the familiar and the familiar; if it is strong, the person is curious, imaginative and artistically interested. Conscientiousness describes how careless or organized someone behaves, and tolerance stands for the extent of compassionate, friendly and cooperative behavior.

The factors of cat personality

These factors have been changed a little for the description of the cat personality:

  • Restlessness / nervousness (in English "Skittishness)
  • Sociability ("outgoingness")
  • Dominance
  • Spontaneity ("spontaneity")
  • Friendliness

Restlessness or nervousness in cats corresponds to neuroticism in humans. If this trait is strong in the character of a velvet paw, it appears fearful and shy. If it is weak, the Miez turns out to be calm, trusting and confident. The scientists determined the factor of sociability instead of extraversion: highly sociable cats are curious and active, less sociable cuddly tigers look haphazard and do not seem to know what they want.

Openness to experience and conscientiousness in humans were replaced by two cat-specific factors for the fur noses: dominance and spontaneity. Very dominant cats are rather aggressive towards their peers and tend to bully, weakly dominant cats are friendly and quickly submit to their peers. A very spontaneous cat personality makes the animal appear impulsive and unpredictable, an unspontaneous velvet paw appears predictable and reserved. Finally, the "tolerance" factor for cats was replaced by "friendliness". Particularly friendly cats are trusting and cuddly, while less friendly cats are lonely and easily irritable.

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This is how the cat personality study was conducted

The main difference in determining the cat personality and the human personality is that the test for people is based on self-assessment, but for cats it is also based on external assessment. After all, the kitty cannot tell how they see their own character. For the Australian study, 2,800 domestic cats from Australia and New Zealand were considered and their favorite people asked to describe the behavior of their fur noses in certain situations.

On a scale of 1 to 7, they were able to indicate how strongly their kitty tended to behave or react in these situations, whether they looked clumsy and clumsy, acted very carelessly, or proved to be quite talkative. A total of 52 situations were described. The scientists then analyzed the questionnaires on the computer and summarized the answers to the five factors of the cat personality, which can be more or less pronounced. There was no difference between female cats and tomcats, nor between New Zealand and Australian cats. Only between younger and older cats could different character traits sometimes be recognized. Older animals appeared to be more dominant and less sociable than their younger counterparts.


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