Survey Says Cats Act A Lot Like Their Owners

by Julie Scagell
Originally Published: 

Cats may be paying more attention to us than we thought based on the results of this study

Cat owners know that furry felines can have quite big personalities, and by big we mean kinda asshole-y, said in the most loving way possible. But a recent study found cats may be mimicking their owners’ personalities, so I’m not sure what that says about me.

According to a study published earlier this year in the scientific journal PLOS One, felines may be mirroring owners’ personality traits, particularly the stronger ones. The research was conducted by Nottingham Trent University and the University of Lincoln, surveying more than 3,000 cat owners in the U.K. and what they found was pawsitively enlightening.

The survey measured owners using the Big Five Inventory (BFI) to assess: Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Neuroticism, and Openness and found different traits were linked to different behaviors in cats, so if a respondent measured as very extroverted and sociable, so too was that owners’ cat.

The cats of more neurotic owners were found to exhibit negative personality traits. “Higher owner Neuroticism was associated with an increased likelihood of….a decreased likelihood of ad libitum access to the outdoors, cats being reported as having a ‘behavioural problem’, displaying more aggressive and anxious/fearful behavioral styles and more stress-related sickness behaviors, as well as having an ongoing medical condition and being overweight,” the study reported.

The study looked at the link between language and vocabulary and offered that how we talk to our pets (and ourselves) play a big role in how those traits are portrayed in kitty. “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 of 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.”

It makes sense since pet owners spend so much time with their pets that personalities and nuances would pass to them much the same way our parenting styles impact our children. So now not only do we have to worry that we’ve messed up our kids in some major way that they’ll be telling their future therapist about for years, but apparently now we have the (literal) weight of our fluffy friends to be responsible for as well. Super.

“For me, these results further highlight the potential ways in which our lifestyle choices for our pets, as well as our general behavior around them, might impact on their well-being,” Finka told Psychology Today. “I think we very often underestimate such relationships, so it’s important that we bring this more into our awareness as responsible animal caretakers.”

Good or bad, it looks like copycats are a real thing after all.

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