There is a relationship between a cat owner’s personality and the behavior and health of their pets, a new study suggests. The findings suggest that, just as a parent’s personality can affect the personality of a child, the same could be true for a cat.
The research, carried out by Nottingham Trent University and the University of Lincoln, was published in the journal PLOS ONE and involved surveying more than 3,000 cat owners.
Previous studies have found that greater parental neuroticism scores are generally associated with less positive wellbeing outcomes for children, while agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness and extraversion are associated with more positive parenting styles and child welfare.
The study found that there could be a potential parallel in cats, with higher levels of neuroticism in cat owners associated with more negative wellbeing of their pets.
It was found that owners who scored higher on the neuroticism scale were more likely to report their cats as having a “behavioral problem,” displaying more aggressive and anxious/fearful behavioral styles and more stress-related sickness behaviors, as well as having an ongoing medical condition and being overweight.
The research also indicated a relationship between positive owner personality traits. For example, higher owner conscientiousness was generally found to be associated with more positive parallels with cats, displaying less anxious, aggressive and avoidant behavioral styles.
“Many owners consider their pets as a family member, forming close social bonds with them, “said Dr. Lauren Finka, Postdoctoral researcher in animal welfare at Nottingham Trent University. “It’s therefore very possible that pets could be affected by the way we interact with and manage them, and that both these factors are in turn influenced by our personality differences.
“More and more we are learning that the welfare of pets is driven by the underlying nature of the owner, and not simply by their conscious decisions and behaviors” said Nottingham Trent University Associate Professor Mark Farnworth.
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