Assessment of domestic cat personality, as perceived by 416 owners, suggests six dimensions Academic Article uri icon


  • Understanding individual behavioral differences in domestic cats could lead to improved selection when potential cat owners choose a pet with whom to share their lives, along with consequent improvements in cat welfare. Yet very few attempts have been made to elicit cat personality dimensions using the trait-based exploratory approaches applied previously, with some success, to humans and dogs. In this study, a list of over 200 adjectives used to describe cat personality was assembled. This list was refined by two focus groups. A sample of 416 adult cat owners then rated a cat they knew well on each of 118 retained words. An iterative analytical approach was used to identify 29 words which formed six personality dimensions: Playfulness, Nervousness, Amiability, Dominance, Demandingness, and Gullibility. Chronbach's alpha scores for these dimensions ranged from 0.63 to 0.8 and, together, they explained 56.08% of the total variance. Very few significant correlations were found between participant scores on the personality dimensions and descriptive variables such as owner age, cat age and owner cat-owning experience, and these were all weak to barely moderate in strength (r≤0.30). There was also only one significant group difference based on cat sex. Importantly, however, several cat personality scores were moderately (r=0.3-0.49) or strongly (r≥0.5) correlated with simple measures of satisfaction with the cat, attachment, bond quality, and the extent to which the cat was perceived to be troublesome. The results suggest that, with further validation, this scale could be used to provide a simple, tick-box, assessment of an owner's perceptions regarding a cat's personality. This may be of value in both applied and research settings.

publication date

  • 2017