Seven character and behavior traits recognized in cats


Credit: Milla Ahonen from photographs of Heikki Siltala (catza.web/fi)

Researchers on the University of Helsinki have developed a brand new complete questionnaire for surveying feline character and habits. A dataset of greater than 4,300 cats representing 26 breed teams revealed seven character and habits traits, with important variations noticed between breeds.

Cats are our commonest pets, and feline behavior is more and more being investigated as a result of a variety of behavioral issues. Another matter of curiosity along with habits traits is character since it may be linked to behavioral issues.

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“Compared to dogs, less is known about the behavior and personality of cats, and there is demand for identifying related problems and risk factors. We need more understanding and tools to weed out problematic behavior and improve cat welfare. The most common behavioral challenges associated with cats relate to aggression and inappropriate elimination,” says doctoral researcher

Seven feline character and habits traits

In a questionnaire designed by Professor Hannes Lohi’s analysis group, character and habits have been surveyed via a total of 138 statements. The questionnaire included complete sections on background and health-related info. By using, amongst different means, issue evaluation to course of the information, seven character and habits traits in all have been recognized.

  • Activity/playfulness
  • Fearfulness
  • Aggression in the direction of people
  • Sociability in the direction of people
  • Sociability in the direction of cats
  • Litterbox points (relieving themselves in inappropriate locations, precision when it comes to litterbox cleanliness and substrate materials)
  • Excessive grooming

“While the number of traits identified in prior research varies, activity/playfulness, fearfulness and aggression are the ones from among the traits identified in our study which occur the most often in prior studies. Litterbox issues and excessive grooming are not personality traits as such, but they can indicate something about the cat’s sensitivity to stress,” Mikkola provides.

Differences within the prevalence of traits seen between breeds

In addition to people, clear character variations could be discovered between breeds. In different phrases, sure character and habits traits are extra frequent amongst sure cat breeds.

“The most fearful breed was the Russian Blue, while the Abyssinian was the least fearful. The Bengal was the most active breed, while the Persian and Exotic were the most passive. The breeds exhibiting the most excessive grooming were the Siamese and Balinese, while the Turkish Van breed scored considerably higher in aggression towards humans and lower in sociability towards cats. We had already observed the same phenomenon in a prior study,” says Professor

The researchers want to emphasize that no pairwise comparisons between breeds have been carried out at this juncture.

“We wanted to obtain a rough idea of whether there are differences in personality traits between breeds. In further studies, we will utilize more complex models to examine factors that affect traits and problematic behavior. In these models, we will take into consideration, in addition to its breed, the cat’s age, gender, health and a wide range of environmental factors,” Mikkola says.

Assessing reliability and validity

Feline habits and character could be studied, for instance, via questionnaires aimed toward cat homeowners. Such questionnaires can measure feline habits in the long run and in on a regular basis circumstances, which is inconceivable in behavioral exams. Furthermore, cats don’t essentially behave in check settings in a means typical of themselves. Due to their subjective nature, the reliability of the questionnaires should be assessed earlier than the information could be exploited additional.

“Internationally speaking, our study is the most extensive and significant survey so far, and it provides excellent opportunities for further research. The reliability of prior feline behavioral questionnaires has not been measured in such a versatile manner, nor are they as comprehensive as this one. Establishing reliability is key to making further analyses worthwhile and enabling the reliable identification of various risk factors,” says Lohi.

The researchers reached out to cat homeowners who responded to the questionnaire one to a few months in the past, requesting them to fill out the questionnaire once more or ask one other grownup residing in the identical family to answer the questionnaire concerning the identical cat. The purpose was to evaluate the questionnaire’s reliability each temporally and between respondents. Based on two further datasets accrued via this methodology, it was attainable to judge the reliability of the questionnaire temporally and between respondents.

“By comparing the responses, we noted that the responses provided for the same cat were very similar, while the personality and behavior traits were found to be reproducible and reliable. We also examined the validity of the questionnaire or whether it measures what it intended to measure. In these terms, too, the questionnaire functioned well,” says Mikkola.

The analysis performed by Lohi’s group will make it attainable to establish genetic, environmental and personality components referring to problematic feline habits.

Heritable behavioral differences between cat breeds

More info:
Salla Mikkola et al, Reliability and Validity of Seven Feline Behavior and Personality Traits, Animals (2021). DOI: 10.3390/ani11071991

Seven character and behavior traits recognized in cats (2021, September 6)
retrieved 6 September 2021

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