The Feline Temperament Profile (FTP) test has been around for quite a long time. Its purpose is to evaluate the temperament, personality and character of shelter cats before adoption. FTP rates cats on aggressiveness, friendliness, playfulness and fear with a list of ‘acceptable’ and ‘questionable’ behaviors under each phase of the test. A study was carried out as to its effectiveness in 2015 (see below). The study confirms that domestic cats exhibit a wide range of temperaments as do the people and the families who adopt them.
The FTP test is a series of questions about a cat’s response to interactions with people. A different study entitled Efficacy of the Feline Temperament Profile in evaluating sheltered cat for adoption into families of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder found that there was no difference according to the sex of the cat but there were significant differences in FTP scores across animal shelters.
They also found that within the questionnaire “vocalizations” and “watches with no approach” were most predictive of acceptable temperament. The scientists conducting the study decided that the FTP could be shortened with no loss of reliability. This would facilitate shelter efforts to rehome cat successfully and I guess encourage them to use the test. My understanding of “watches with no approach” means that cats who approached confidently were deemed to have temperaments more suited to families where the children were more likely to upset cats. Also, when a cat makes friendly sounds in new interactions it must be a good sign that things will work out well.
My understanding is that, currently, this test is not widely used. I wonder whether this is because some managers believe that it might produce incorrect results in shelter cats because of the environment in which the test takes place. Animal shelters are not ideal environments because of the noise and the strange people coming and going. This automatically can stress cats.
However, the study I refer to in the first paragraph, which is entitled Validation of a temperament test for domestic cats concluded that cats who scored well in the test i.e. “Cats displaying general positive response to humans” did so in both familiar and test environments and with familiar and unfamiliar persons. This is stating that FTP measures fundamental personality issues and the environment does not substantially change the results if at all.
They concluded that the FTP was “relatively stable over time for adult cats and test scores correlated well with ethological observations of cats’ interactions with humans”. The word ‘ethological’ means the science of animal behaviour. Overall FTP was found to provide an accurate and consistent assessment of temperament which can help to ensure that shelter cats fitted in nicely at their new homes.
This is important because it should reduce the number of shelter cats returned to the shelter after adoption which obviously improves cat welfare. And the test could reduce the amount of time cats spend at a shelter.
Postscript: I could not find any data on how often FTP is used as shelters. If anybody can help me on that then please leave a comment. I would have thought that it should be used in all animal shelters wherever they are as it is effective. I have, I believe, an example of it on this website which you can see by clicking on the link below – it downloads to your desktop. You’ll need suitable software e.g. Open Office or MS Word to open it.
SOME MORE ON FELINE PERSONALITY: