Study Finds Cat Behaviors May Reflect Their Owners' Personality Traits
More neurotic cat owners have felines that are more aggressive and anxious, according to a 2019 study
The old saying may go, “Monkey see, monkey do,” but perhaps it’s time to introduce “cat” into that phrase.
The behaviors of cats may mirror those of their owners, according to a study published earlier this year in the scientific journal PLOS One.
The research, conducted by the Nottingham Trent University and the University of Lincoln, surveyed more than 3,000 cat owners in the U.K., asking questions about their personality and that of their pets.
Owners were scored on the Big Five Inventory personality traits: agreeableness, conscientiousness, extroversion, openness and neuroticism.
The survey found that different traits were linked to different behaviors in cats, for example, owners who reported that their cat had a behavior problem had higher neuroticism scores.
More neurotic owners were also linked to other negative traits in their pets, including stress-linked sickness, aggressive or anxious/fearful personalities and being overweight.
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Owners who were more agreeable, meanwhile, had cats associated with a more positive wellbeing, and cats more likely to be a normal weight with less aggressive and aloof/avoidant tendencies.
“Our findings mirror the findings of research on parental personality, parenting styles and child behavior in various ways,” the study said.
The study also noted that a similar trend was seen in previous studies with dog owners, with more neurotic owners having dogs with negative behavioral styles.
“Many owners consider their pets as a family member, forming close social bonds with them,” co-author of the study and animal welfare researcher Lauren Finka from Nottingham Trent University told The Telegraph. “It’s therefore very possible that pets could be affected by the way we interact with and manage them, and that both these factors are in turn influenced by our personality differences.”