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The 'Feline Five': An exploration of personality in pet cats (Felis catus)

By Carla A. Litchfield, Gillian Quinton, Hayley Tindle, Belinda Chiera, K. Heidy Kikillus, Philip Roetman

Category Journal Articles

The idea of animals possessing personalities was once dismissed by the scientific community, but has since gained traction with evidence for potential application to improve captive animal management and welfare. Although domestic cats are popular companion animals, research has tended to overlook the value of personality assessment for management and care of pet cats. The aim of this study was to investigate personality in a large sample of pet cats with a view to understanding practical implications for pet cats in the home. Personality of 2,802 pet cats, from South Australia and New Zealand, was rated by their owners utilising a survey measuring 52 personality traits. Five reliable personality factors were found using principal axis factor analysis: Neuroticism, Extraversion, Dominance, Impulsiveness and Agreeableness. Implications for the ‘Feline Five’ are discussed in relation to their potential application to improving the management and welfare of pet cats. Highly Impulsive cats for example, may be reacting to something stressful in their environment, whereas cats with low Agreeableness scores, showing irritability may indicate underlying pain or illness. Thus, the need for a systematic and holistic approach to personality that includes both the individual pet cat and its environment is recommended, and opens the door to future interdisciplinary intervention.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Publication Title PLoS One
Volume 12
Issue 8
Pages 17
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0183455
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Carla A. Litchfield; Gillian Quinton; Hayley Tindle; Belinda Chiera; K. Heidy Kikillus; Philip Roetman (2018), "The 'Feline Five': An exploration of personality in pet cats (Felis catus),"

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  1. Animal roles
  2. Australia
  3. Cats
  4. Mammals
  5. New Zealand
  6. open access
  7. Personality
  8. Pets and companion animals
  1. open access