What sort of personality does a true cat lover have? What personality traits do good cat caretakers require? We often talk about the character of the domestic cat particularly in relation to the cat breeds but we rarely try to set out in a concise manner the personality of the best sorts of cat caretakers.
There probably is not a single personality type for a cat lover. However, there are probably some key elements to a person’s character which make them good at the job. My gut feeling is that the following are important:
- Sensitivity and emotional intelligence
- A desire to nurture
Apparently, there are five personality traits for people, which are: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.
Openness refers to an openness to experiences including openness to emotion and unusual ideas. I would consider myself very open. I am also curious and therefore certainly the personality trait of openness describes me. I also love cats. However, this does not mean that openness is necessarily a character trait of everyone who loves cats. However, it does seem to encompass: honesty, genuineness and sensitivity towards others.
There is no question in my mind that openness helps in the process of learning about the domestic cat and what his or her behaviour means. It also allows a person to better connect emotionally with their cat, to get inside the head of their cat and understand what their cat is trying to say. The curiosity element of the personality trait of openness is probably important because a good cat caretaker will be curious and will do her best to understand her cat companion in order to improve how she cares for her cat.
Looking after a cat does require some self-discipline. The opposite of self-discipline is carelessness and the careless cat caretaker is unlikely to be a good cat caretaker. Carelessness can lead to a cat having kittens which can become unwanted and carelessness leads to a cat’s health issues being neglected. Self-discipline born out of a conscientious approach to cat caretaking means that the person is observant of their cat to check for signs of ill health, is protective of their cat to make sure he or she is safe. Day-to-day maintenance routines require a conscientious approach, such as cleaning out the litter tray regularly and ensuring that food and fresh water is put down routinely. In multi-cat households there is a greater demand for a conscientious approach to cat management.
Extraversion means being outgoing and energetic. The opposite is to be solitary and reserved. My impression is that many excellent cat caretakers are solitary and reserved but intelligent and conscientious. A reserved and solitary person is more likely to remain at home and therefore more likely to have far greater contact and interaction with her cat. In contrast, an outgoing energetic person is more likely to be sociable and seek the stimulation of interaction with others which probably means he or she would be outside the home far more often. That is not good for a cat, on the face of it.
Agreeableness refers to a person’s ability to be friendly and compassionate as opposed to analytical and detached. There is no question that a major personality trait of the good cat caretaker is agreeableness. A cat lover has a lot of compassion coupled with emotional intelligence which allows her to understand and always be helpful towards her companion. Agreeableness is a measure of a person’s trusting and helpful nature rather than being antagonistic towards others. This characteristic certainly applies to good cat caretakers.
Suspicion and antagonism are not in the vocabulary of the cat guardian who cares. In fact the sort of person who hates cats and who likes to hurt them either through shooting or poisoning, for example, is likely, as far as I am concerned, to have a suspicious and antagonistic nature and be disagreeable. I think that proves the point about agreeableness being a part of the personality of an excellent cat owner.
If I am correct, then we have to conclude that cat lovers are nice people because they are agreeable.
There is one child in this video who will become an excellent cat owner:
Neuroticism refers to a personality trait that can be overly sensitive and nervous compared to feeling secure and confident. Neuroticism can also indicate emotional instability and an impulsive character, with a tendency to experience unpleasant emotions such as anxiety and depression.
I think that neuroticism may be a personality trait in an excellent cat caretaker but the converse can also be true, namely that a highly secure and confident person can also be an excellent cat caretaker and therefore this personality trait is not specific to, or a requirement for, a good cat owner.
What about tenderness? Tenderness is about compassion and compassion is about agreeableness and a willingness to feel what another person or animal is going through.
Of all the personality traits mentioned above agreeableness as an umbrella personality trait appears to be the most relevant. A good cat caretaker has to be highly compassionate and empathetic towards her cat companion. A good cat owner will be very concerned about her cat and that concern comes out of compassion, empathy and a desire to nurture and look after his cat.
Therefore, it is difficult to come to a conclusion other than that good cat guardians are also good people. That assessment is supported by my personal experiences.