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5 Different Cat Personality Types: Understand Your Feline

Written by: Chantelle Fowler

Last Updated on July 1, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat sitting on owners lap

5 Different Cat Personality Types: Understand Your Feline

Cats are mysterious, enigmatic creatures that do what they want to do on their own terms. It’s hard for us to imagine putting them in a box (unless it’s a literal cardboard box, of course) based on their personality types. However, after several studies, researchers determined that cats generally fit into one of the ‘Feline Five’ personality types. Read on to learn more about these personality types to see if you can work out which suits your kitty best.

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How the Personality Types Were Determined

United Kingdom and U.S.-based researchers developed a personality questionnaire for cats with 52 personality characteristics. This survey was based on research done on personality in other animals, including humans.

Respondents were asked about their cat’s intelligence, playfulness, and boldness. Owners had to rate their pet’s characteristics on a seven-point rating scale from ‘not at all’ to ‘very much so’. Over 2,800 cats were analyzed to develop the five major personality factors for cats, also known as the Feline Five.

One interesting finding in the research on cat personality was just how similar our feline family members are to us. Psychologists often use a five-factor model known as the Big Five when exploring human personality. Let’s delve a little deeper into each of the feline five traits and see which are similar to those found in humans.

close up male cat
Image Credit: Francois Ringuette, Unsplash

The 5 Cat Personality Types

1. Skittishness

Cats scoring high in skittishness are often anxious and fearful of other cats and humans. They would benefit from a home with plenty of good hiding spots. Owners of cats scoring high in this trait may also wish to explore further the potential reason(s) their cats act this way. There may be a physical or mental condition at play.

Those with lower scores in skittishness are calmer and more trusting. Cats with low scores are generally well-adjusted to their environment.

The human equivalent for skittishness on the Big 5 scale is neuroticism. Humans scoring high here may experience mood swings, anxiety, and irritability. Those with lower scores are more stable and emotionally resilient.

scared British blue-point cat hiding under the bed
Image Credit: Zossia, Shutterstock

2. Outgoingness

Cats scoring high in outgoingness are curious, alert, and active. They tend to thrive in environments with plenty of toys and mental stimulation. These cats do well with owners who set aside time daily to play with them.

Those with lower scores are generally uncommon, though they may show signs of aging or problematic health issues.

The human equivalent for outgoingness on the Big 5 scale is extraversion. Humans scoring high tend to be talkative and assertive and thrive when they’re the center of attention. Those with lower scores prefer solitude and don’t have as much energy in social settings.


3. Dominance

Cats scoring high in dominance can be bullies and may show aggression toward other cats. They often fare better in a single-pet household as they struggle with being around other animals.

Those with lower scores are easier going and often adjust well to living in a multi-pet household.

There is no human equivalent for dominance on the human Big 5 personality scale.

two ginger cat fighting
Image By: Konstantin Dem, Shutterstock

4. Spontaneity

Cats scoring high in spontaneity are prone to impulsivity, fearlessness, and erraticism. These cats may be reacting to something in their environment. They may respond differently to the same situation on different occasions. This can happen to cats that haven’t yet learned to cope with life. They may have anxiety and high energy.

Those with lower scores are more constrained and predictable. They are well-adjusted to their environment and may thrive on routine.

There is no human equivalent for spontaneity on the human Big 5 personality scale.


5. Friendliness

Cats scoring high in friendliness adjust well to new people, animals, and situations.

Those with lower scores may be more solitary. They could also be poorly socialized. If unfriendliness is out of character for your kitty, it could be a sign that your pet is ill, in pain, or frustrated.

The human equivalent of friendliness on the Big 5 scale is agreeableness. Humans scoring high show signs of kindness, affection, and trust. They’re prosocial and more inclined to help others. Those with lower scores may be manipulating or nasty towards others.

bengal cat gives a high-five paw to the owner
Image Credit: Svetlana Rey, Shutterstock

How the Test Can Help You as a Cat Owner

Cats are more multifaceted than we give them credit for. Society often considers cats aloof and fiercely independent, but this isn’t always true. Cats are complicated creatures, but knowing more about them and their personalities can help you be a better owner. You can take a quiz like the survey used to determine the Feline Five here.

Though this quiz is not identical to the survey, it will give you a great idea of your cat’s leading personality traits. You can then use the results to cater your home and cat-parenting ideologies to better suit your kitty and her unique personality traits.

For example, if your kitty scores high in extroversion, you should focus on providing plenty of externally oriented activities in your home. They’ll benefit from an environment rife with toys and physical and mental enrichment.

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Final Thoughts

Cats may be enigmatic in many ways, but they give plenty of subtle (and not so subtle) hints into their personality if you pay close enough attention. Taking the personality test above is a great start to learning more about what makes your furry family member tick.


Featured Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

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