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The Five Shades of Cats.

February 10, 2018

Domestic cats have been companion animals for thousands of years yet we know little about typical cat behavior. Social interactions between cats and between cats and their people are important to understand. Many urban cats may suffer chronic stress stemming from a lack of control over their environment. Understanding cat personality may improve their welfare by tailoring care to suit individual needs.

The big five personality types is a term used in human personality research. Feline behaviorists renamed it the feline five.

Neuroticism reflects traits of insecurity, anxiousness, fear, and shyness. These cats may benefit from additional hiding places and access to quiet areas.

Dominance includes bullying other cats. Resolving this behavior is the least understood but may be as simple as these cats need to live alone.

Impulsiveness includes erratic and reckless behavior.  This behavior may indicate a stressful environment with negative effects on a cat’s health and welfare. Owners may need to seek advice from an animal behaviorist to locate their source of stress.

Agreeableness includes affection, friendliness to people and gentleness. These cats are well adjusted and ‘happy’, potentially serving as a source of enrichment for other cats.

Extraverted cats are active, vigilant, curious and inventive. They need additional stimulation and more complex environmental enrichment to avoid boredom.

Understanding cat personalities has the potential to improve the welfare of pet cats through personalized caretaking strategies.

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