Thursday, March 3, 2011

Which Cat Matches Your Personality?

Cat adoption agencies that match cats with adopters' personalities should have more success, and now there's a study to prove it.

A research group at the University of Vienna's Konrad Lorenz Research Center conducted a study of 40 cats and owners over a 3 1/2 year period. Using video cameras, interviews and written questionnaires, the personalities of the owners and cats were compared with how the two interacted.

Owner personalities were analyzed in five dimensions:
  • neuroticism
  • extraversion
  • openness to experience
  • agreeableness
  • conscientiousness
Cats' personalities were also assessed in five dimensions based on observations and the owner's analysis. Interactions were examined to determine their level of complexity. Previously hidden patterns of behavior were detected by software that analyzed video footage of the cats and owners interacting with each other. Repeated behaviors discovered this way were referred to as temporal, or t-, patterns.

Turns out that the personality and gender of the owner, along with the personality and age of the cat, are the main factors influencing their relationship. The length of time they've lived together is not as important as these personality factors. Women interact more with their cats. Older cats like simpler patterns of interaction, just as older human couples become more ritualistic in their interactions. This is less true for same-sex pairings of owner and cat; women with girl cats and men with boy cats continue having more complex interactions through the years.

More neurotic owners have less t-patterns with their cats than their more well adjusted counterparts. The cats don't seem to enjoy interacting with those who fuss over them all the time. Extroverted owners interact more frequently with their cats. Very active cats interact less often with their owners, but each of their t-patterns has more complexity. And it turns out that the best interactions are initiated by the cat, not the human.

So what does this mean for us average old maid cat ladies? Looks like matching the right cat to the right person does have some validity, after all! Dr. Kurt Kotrschal, who penned the study, told, “Cats are more interesting than dogs. Dogs can’t help but be attached to their owners. Cats regard their owners differently.” Well, duh! We could've told them that without a long study...but it is nice to have some bona fide research to back up what we know.

An abstract of the study's findings was published in the January, 2011 issue of the journal Behavioural Processes. Or, if your German's good, you can read it online at the University's website.

Got a cat who's suddenly acting crazy? It may be anything from an indication of illness to a mere disruption in the cat's normal routine. Our little furry buddies don't like change, and they're masters at hiding the symptoms of illness.'s Health Time section has an assortment of calming products, along with holistic and natural supplements for whatever ails Kitty, whatever her personality (or yours).

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