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Do You and Your Cat Have a Satisfying Relationship?

For cat-lovers only

Cats, in particular, have always been enshrouded with mystique and legend. The companions of Pharaohs, the familiars of witches, defenders of the home from pests and vermin, cats have lived alongside humanity without becoming fully domesticated. Cats have quite the reputation. Unlike dogs, generally seen as amiable and eager-to-please, cats are viewed as aloof, proud, and willful. Whether this is really true or not, or is more a function of our projections, is a matter for consideration. Regardless, there is no question that we can define ourselves by the kinds of pets we love most, often into rival camps of “dog-person” and “cat-person” — nothing against herpetophiles and entophiles, of course. While dog-owner relations have been studied extensively, aside from T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (upon which the musical Cats was based), felines have been short-changed.

Research on how cat and owner personality affect pet relationship satisfaction

In order to better understand what predicts cat owner satisfaction, the Liverpool researchers surveyed 126 cat owners, 115 of whom were women, about their personalities, their cats’ personalities, and their level of satisfaction with their cats. They only surveyed people who picked their cats out themselves, as contrasted with those who received cats as a gift.

  • Pet personality was measured using the Cat Tracker Project Questionnaire. Participants completed a 25-item measure of their cat’s personality, looking at agreeableness, extroversion, dominance, impulsiveness, and neuroticism.
  • Owner satisfaction was measured by asking participants to rate their level of satisfaction with their cat on a scale from 1 to 10. Cat satisfaction was not measured.

Factors associated with cat owner satisfaction

While there were a variety of significant correlations between different components of cat and owner personality, the only significant predictors of owner satisfaction were about the cat’s personality. Pet owners reported they were more satisfied owning agreeable cats, and less satisfied owning neurotic cats. Cat personality accounted for almost 20 percent of owner satisfaction.

How do we decide which cat to adopt?

Our pets are so important to us, and for some, relationships with pets are at least as important as relationships with people. Enjoying satisfying relationships with our pets, given the major role they play in many of our homes, is really important. In the absence of sophisticated matchmaking based on analysis of cat-human personality fit, people seeking to adopt a cat are more likely to be satisfied by agreeable cats with stable, balanced (non-neurotic) personalities.

Written by

Psychiatrist, Psychoanalyst, Entrepreneur, Writer, Speaker, Advocate

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