A study indicates that cats mirror the personality traits of their owners, both the good ones and the bad. The study, which comes out of Nottingham Trent University and the University of Lincoln in the United Kingdom, actually builds on previous, smaller studies that seem to indicate the same conclusion — cats are only as nice as their people.
Researchers spoke with more than 3,000 cat owners, asking them a variety of questions that measured their personality traits according to the Big Five Inventory, a personality test that measures five major components: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. The findings indicate that certain traits that were more apparent in their owners were also observed in their cats.
In plain speak, if an owner was a more neurotic (read: stressed out and anxious) person, their cat also displayed some of the same behavioral issues. Owners who felt they were more extroverted, meanwhile, allowed their cat more time outside.
The study found that owners that reported behavioral problems in their cats scored high themselves for neuroticism. Also, the more cats in a home, the more the owner’s personality tended toward introversion, non-agreeableness and neuroticism. And owners of pedigreed cats suffered less from neuroticism than others.
Generally, owners that scored better for agreeableness were associated with more positive wellbeing outcomes for their cats, the study said. These agreeable owners were also more satisfied with their pets, and also tended to give their pets restricted access to the outdoors. Owners that scored highly in conscientiousness and openness reported their cats being more outgoing, less aggressive and less fearful.
So what does this mean for us? Well, if your cat is acting twitchy and strange, maybe it’s a signal that you need to take measures to inject calm into your own life.