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Cats Have Personality Traits Similar to Humans

Cats share three out of five personality traits with humans.

Researchers in Australia have been studying feline personality traits by having their owners fill out 52-question surveys online. A sophisticated computer program has been analyzing the data, and it has come up with 5 general cat personalities.

This is especially interesting because many psychologists believe that human personalities fall into 5 categories, as well. In fact, the Australian researchers feel that 3 out of 5 of the discovered cat personalities overlap with the accepted human personalities.

The 5 Human Personality Traits

The 5 generally accepted human personality traits are as follows:

  • Openness to experience. This refers to how likely you are to try new things and be interested in a variety of subjects.
  • Conscientiousness. People may be highly independent workers who are organized and work at a task until it's complete, or they may be unorganized, easily distracted, and in need of supervision.
  • Extraversion. This trait measures the degree to which a person enjoys the company of others vs. preferring to be alone or with one to a few other people.
  • Agreeableness. This scale rates whether or not a person is generally forgiving, kind to others, and understanding of the situations and feelings of people other than themselves.
  • Neuroticism. This trait refers to the degree to which someone is a worrier or a nervous person vs. someone who is generally calm and easy-going.

A person can fall anywhere along a scale on each of these traits: you may be very extraverted or not extraverted at all, for example, or you may be somewhere in the middle.

You can take a short quiz to find out where you fall within the scales of the above traits here:

The Australian researchers have found that there are not really any statistical differences in the personalities of indoor vs. outdoor cats other than indoor cats tend to score a bit higher on "friendliness." They've suggested that this indicates that keeping your cat indoors is not harmful to his personality.

The 5 General Feline Personality Traits

The Australian study has uncovered 5 basic personality traits that cats have. As with the human personality traits, cats can fall anywhere along the scale from "very" to "not at all" on each of the following traits:

  • Skittishness. This refers to how nervous or laid-back a cat is. Researchers feel that this trait equates with neuroticism in humans.
  • Outgoingness. A cat may be friendly, curious, and active or "lazy" and uninterested in exploring new things. This trait is similar to extraversion in people.
  • Dominance. This trait does not correlate with any of the human ones; it's the tendency for a cat to either bully other cats or submit to them.
  • Spontaneity. This is the other trait that doesn't have an equal in human terms. It measures whether a cat is predictable or erratic in how he behaves.
  • Friendliness. In humans, this would be termed "agreeableness," and it's a scale that measures whether a cat tends to be highly affectionate or prefers to be alone and tends to act grumpy.

It's been quite interesting to researchers to find that cats share 3 out of 5 personality traits with humans. They suggest that taking the time to understand where you and your cat fall along these scales may help you create strategies to connect better with your feline friend.

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