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Article

Reliability and Validity of Seven Feline Behavior and Personality Traits

by 1,2,3, 1,2,3, 1,2,3, 1,2,3 and 1,2,3,*
1
Department of Veterinary Biosciences, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
2
Department of Medical and Clinical Genetics, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
3
Folkhälsan Research Center, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Mandy Paterson
Animals 2021, 11(7), 1991; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11071991
Received: 4 June 2021 / Revised: 29 June 2021 / Accepted: 1 July 2021 / Published: 2 July 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Human-Animal Interactions, Animal Behaviour and Emotion)
Cats have personalities, just like humans and other animals, with stable behavior differences between individuals. Identification of a cat’s personality type is important as cats with different personalities have different environmental needs to reach a good life quality. For example, active individuals may need more enrichment, such as playing, than less active individuals, and fearful cats may benefit from extra hiding places and owners’ peaceful lifestyle. Cats are popular pet animals, but their personality has been little studied. In addition, the majority of these studies used behavior questionnaires that have not been validated. Thus, we studied cat personality and behavior by collecting a large dataset of over 4300 cats with an online questionnaire and studied its validity and reliability. Feline personality and behavior included seven traits: fearfulness, activity/playfulness, aggression toward humans, sociability toward humans, sociability toward cats, excessive grooming and litterbox issues. Breeds differed in all traits, and the questionnaire was reliable and valid. Our findings indicate that owner-completed questionnaires are valid sources of behavior data, and that some personality traits are more common in specific cat breeds. Breed differences, however, should be examined with more complex models, taking other factors, such as the age of the cat, into account.
Domestic cats are popular pets, and they have personalities, with stable behavior differences between individuals. Lately, feline behavior and personality have been studied with different approaches, for example, with owner-completed questionnaires. The majority of these studies, however, lack a sufficient validation and reliability assessment of the questionnaires used. We designed an online feline behavior and personality questionnaire to collect cat behavior data from their owners. Then, we ran a factor analysis to study the structure of personality and behavior in a dataset of over 4300 cats. For validation, we studied the internal consistency, test–retest reliability, inter-rater reliability, convergent validity and discriminant validity of this questionnaire and extracted factors. In addition, we briefly examined breed differences in the seven discovered factors: fearfulness, activity/playfulness, aggression toward humans, sociability toward humans, sociability toward cats, excessive grooming and litterbox issues. Most of the rank ordering of breeds within each trait paralleled what has been found in previous studies. The validity and reliability of the questionnaire and factors were good, strengthening owner-completed questionnaires as a method to collect behavioral data from pet animals. Breed differences suggest a genetic background for personality. However, these differences should be studied further with multidimensional models, including environmental and biological variables. View Full-Text
Keywords: cat personality; Felis silvestris catus; temperament; test–retest reliability; inter-rater reliability; convergent validity; discriminant validity; personality cat personality; Felis silvestris catus; temperament; test–retest reliability; inter-rater reliability; convergent validity; discriminant validity; personality
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MDPI and ACS Style

Mikkola, S.; Salonen, M.; Hakanen, E.; Sulkama, S.; Lohi, H. Reliability and Validity of Seven Feline Behavior and Personality Traits. Animals 2021, 11, 1991. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11071991

AMA Style

Mikkola S, Salonen M, Hakanen E, Sulkama S, Lohi H. Reliability and Validity of Seven Feline Behavior and Personality Traits. Animals. 2021; 11(7):1991. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11071991

Chicago/Turabian Style

Mikkola, Salla, Milla Salonen, Emma Hakanen, Sini Sulkama, and Hannes Lohi. 2021. "Reliability and Validity of Seven Feline Behavior and Personality Traits" Animals 11, no. 7: 1991. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11071991

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