Years ago, at a job I’ve mostly forgotten, our boss had us all take the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) personality profile. While I’m not always a fan of labeling or pigeonholing people, this test changed my life. It helped me understand myself and the people I worked with.
Many of you may have heard of the MBTI, or other personality profile instruments like it. Take a simplified version online if you’re curious about how it works. Basically, it ranks you on four spectrums:
It got me to thinking, can we personality-type our cats? Why not? Maybe it can help us understand our cats better! It may be that the science behind this is completely ridiculous and doesn’t apply to cats at all, but it’s fun to imagine what your cat’s personality type could be.
Use this simple assessment for your cat, and you may end up understanding her better, yourself better, and your interactions better!
Does your cat love to be the life of the party? Or does she prefer her alone time? More importantly, what seems to give her more energy, being alone or spending time with other cats, pets, or her people? Does she talk incessantly or is she quiet, with a tiny or nonexistent voice? Does she practice the silent meow (one of the cutest cat things I’ve ever seen)?
Introverts need quiet time to recharge their energy. Extroverts are energized by large groups of people. So, watch your cat! If she seems to need her quiet time to recharge, let her have it. (Of course, if the behavior is unusual for her, use your common sense and make sure that something else isn’t causing the changed behavior — medical or otherwise!)
This one may be harder to transpose to our feline friends, but I’ll try. In the MBTI world, a thinker is a logical decision maker. The feeler makes decisions based more on feelings, others’ feelings, or harmoniousness. If you have a cat who loves to see everyone get along (other household cats, pets, people, etc.) then your cat may be a feeler. On the other hand, when instinct takes over, there’s no time for feelings! I don’t imagine that a cat stops to consider the mouse’s feelings before the cat pounces.
Still, watch your cat closely. I have a friend with a very logical, methodical kind of black cat. I think of him as the “manager” of her household. He knows if the kids are late for the school bus; he places himself where he can watch all the goings-on in the house. This seems like a thinker cat (more so than a feeler cat).
Do you make decisions based on that indescribable intuition? Or do you need details, facts, and the five senses to arrive at conclusions? And what about your cat? Personally, I think cats can ride both sides of this spectrum. Absolutely, their behaviors are led by their acute senses. Just watch them alertly spotting something in the yard that you can’t see. Or jumping and smashing a bug in a nanosecond.
Yet, how do you explain when your cat knows you’re sad and comes to comfort you? Or when your cat knows you’re reaching for a can of cat food, even before you’ve moved to the cupboard? Is this intuition or extremely honed senses that we don’t even understand? Who can say?
Does your cat complete a task one step at a time, or is she all over the place, easily distracted, and a multitasker? Does she make decisions easily, or waffle? When I first took this test, my “P” (perceiving) was almost off the charts, meaning that I’m very spontaneous and can have a hard time focusing or making a decision. I have learned to take things one step at a time, but it definitely takes some effort. Observe your cat — what’s her M.O. when it comes to getting things done?
Now that you’ve figured out where your cat (or you) fall on each spectrum, put the letters together. You’ll have your personality type; one of 16 possible combinations. For example, I am an INFP (introverted-intuitive-feeling-perceiving).
I can hardly do the MBTI justice, but I think it’s a fascinating way to understand people, and possibly, our cats. Learn more about it here.
What personality type is your cat? What are you? How do you get along with your cat? Share your stories in comments!
Read more about cat personality and behavior:
About Catherine Holm: Told that she is funny but doesn’t know it, accused of being an unintentional con artist by her husband, quiet, with frequent unannounced bursts into dancing liveliness, Cat Holm loves writing about, working for, and living with cats. She is the author of the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, the creator of Ann Catanzaro cat fantasy story gift books, and the author of a short story collection about people and place. She loves to dance, be outside whenever possible, read, play with cats, make music, do and teach yoga, and write. Cat lives in the woods, which she loves as much as really dark chocolate, and gets regular inspiration shots along with her double espresso shots from the city.