How to tell whether your cat is a psychopath •

According to a new study by the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University, it is possible that all cats possess at least some psychopathy tendencies. However, as in humans, psychopathy in animals comes to varying degrees.

In order to build a tool to assess the degree of psychopathy in cats, scientists studied the relationship between 2,042 cat owners and their pets. They built a questionnaire called CAT-Tri+, with 46 statements requiring cat owners to rate how well each described their pet.

“In our study, we developed a questionnaire to measure psychopathy in domestic cats,” said lead study author Rebecca Evans, a doctoral student at the University of Liverpool. “The questionnaire was developed using owner-provided examples of his cat’s behavior in the context of the triad model of psychopathology (daring, meanness, and disinhibition).”

“The latest questionnaire measures five factors of psychopathy in cats: boldness, meanness, self-abandonment, unfriendliness with pets, and unfriendliness with humans.”

Some of the statements the owners had to rate included: “My cat is torturing its prey rather than killing it right away,” “My cat is talking loudly for no apparent reason,” or “My cat is very irritable.” These ratings helped the researchers score the cat’s level of meanness (traits such as lack of empathy and cruel aggression), boldness (a measure of social dominance and lack of fear), cat abandonment (lack of behavioral restraint), and unfriendliness toward humans and other pets.

“It is likely that all cats had a psychopathy component as it would have been beneficial to their ancestors in terms of access to resources, for example food, land, and mating opportunities,” Evans explained.

Scientists hope that this tool will help improve the relationship with the cat owner and thus reduce the number of cats that end up in shelters or are put out. The questionnaire can be used to identify undesirable behaviors and make improvements in cats’ environments in order to better match their personality.

“A cat with a high score on the Audacity scale may benefit from large cat trees and tall scratching poles, with Cat-Tri+ items indicating that a bold cat enjoys exploration and climbing,” Evans said. “Providing environmental enrichment for bold cats may reduce aggressive behaviors toward people, other pets, and property.”

The study was published in Journal of research in personality.

by Andrei IonescuAnd crew clerk

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