Do Cats Take on Traits of Their Owners?

Loving cats have loving owners.
i Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

It’s natural for doting owners to believe their pets share their personality traits, but is it true? The good news is yes, because scientific research demonstrates that felines can mirror their owners’ personality traits, particularly when there is a close bond between the two.

Feline Affinities

Research carried out by the University of Vienna suggests that, just as people who spend a lot of time together rub off on one another, the same holds true for you and Kitty. A study led by Kurt Kotrschal of the Konrad Lorenz Research Station and the University of Vienna and published in 2011, which recorded and analyzed the day-to-day interactions between 41 felines and their owners, concluded that these relationships are nearly identical to human-only bonds. According to Discovery News, “the researchers determined that cats and their owners strongly influenced each other, such that they were each often controlling the other's behaviors.”

You Scratch My Back

Relationships are a two-way process and, if you enjoy a lot of one-on-one time with Kitty, she will mirror your love and attention. In other words, affectionate and playful owners bring out the same personality traits in their furry friends. Playing with your pet encourages her to be more playful. Giving cuddles on demand -- the way felines prefer it -- you’ll likely be rewarded with lots of head butts and purrs. According to the Viennese researchers, felines are more demonstrative towards their owners when they spend time interacting with them.

Cat People

For people who prefer felines, it may be a case of already sharing personality traits with their pets. Research conducted by psychologists at the University of Texas suggests that “dog people” and “cat people” have very different personalities. According to the 2010 web-based research, the latter are more spontaneous, unconventional and introverted. In other words, you may think your whimsical, quirky pet has become just like your when, in fact, it’s really because you are just like him!

Literary Projections

Writers are particularly fond of projecting desirable human traits, particularly literary ones, onto their feline friends. American author Charles Dudley Warner, in his obituary for his cat Calvin, whom he inherited from fellow writer Harriet Beecher Stowe, suggests that the discerning Calvin was attracted to Stowe because he admired her work, a case of a feline who sought out like-minded friends. “He appeared to have artistic and literary tastes, and it was as if he had inquired at the door if that was the residence of the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and, upon being assured that it was, had decided to dwell there. This is, of course, fanciful, for his antecedents were wholly unknown, but in his time he could hardly have been in any household where he would not have heard Uncle Tom’s Cabin talked about.”

the nest