Researchers from the University of Helsinki, Finland, studied more than 4,300 cats from 26 groups to find out what makes kittens tick. And what was perhaps just the perfect excuse to play with kittens during office hours has produced some amazing results. According to the results of the study, published in Animals magazine, kittens can be divided into one of seven different personality groups.
Salla Mikkola, a PhD student in Helsinki and at the Folkhälsan Research Center, said: “Compared to dogs, less is known about cat behavior and personality and there is a need to identify related problems and risk factors.
“We need more understanding and tools to stamp out problematic behavior and improve cat welfare.
“The most common behavioral problems in cats can be related to aggression and inadequate elimination.”
The researchers gathered data on cat behavior through a lengthy survey that presented a series of 138 statements to a research group.
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The group was then asked to what extent they agreed with statements such as “often shows sudden outbursts of running” or “always greets unfamiliar adults who visit your home in a friendly manner”.
The survey also dug deep into the cats’ background and health data to paint a full picture of their characters.
The researchers chose to do a survey rather than a personal exam because cats behave differently in the laboratory.
The survey also gave cat owners an opportunity to discuss long-term behavior changes.
After studying the data collected, the researchers were able to list the following personality groups and behavioral traits:
- Playfulness / activity
- Aggression towards people
- Socializing with people
- Socializing with cats
- Problems with the litter box
- Excessive maintenance
“The breeds with the most excessive grooming were the Siamese and Balinese, while the Turkish Van breed scored significantly higher in aggression towards humans and lower in sociability towards cats.
“We had already observed the same phenomenon in a previous study.”
However, the researchers emphasized that at this point they have not yet made pairwise comparisons between cat breeds.
Ms. Mikkola said, “We wanted to get a rough idea of whether there are racial differences in personality traits.
“In further studies, we will use more complex models to examine factors that influence traits and problem behavior.
“In these models, we will consider the cat’s age, gender, health and a variety of environmental factors in addition to the breed.”
Professor Lohi added: “In an international comparison, our study is the most extensive and important survey to date and offers excellent opportunities for further research.
“The reliability of previous cat behavioral questionnaires has not been measured as widely and is not as comprehensive as this one.
“Establishing reliability is the key so that further analyzes are worthwhile and various risk factors can be reliably identified.”