If you’ve been watching the headlines lately, you’ll be convinced your cat wants to kill you.
USA Today and The Telegraph are among big publications that pounced on this study recently that compared the personality traits of domestic cats to clouded leopards, snow leopards, African lions, and Scottish wildcats. The researchers unexpectedly found that certain personality factors were shared among all species on the spectrum of neuroticism, impulsiveness, and dominance. But these factors measure certain traits of personalities like anxiety and insecurity, much like in humans. So even though research measures a person or animal on these scales for certain traits doesn’t make that individual particularly neurotic, impulsive or dominant, and that’s where the confusion lies.
Lead researcher Marieke Gartner explained to The Huffington Post that her study was misinterpreted to imply that domestic cats are just like the wild animals they share certain traits with and are thus eager to hunt human flesh.
“My research did not suggest this — in fact, it’s completely unrelated,” she said.
Indeed, the study concluded simply by saying “the similarity may allow for a more generalized approach to captive care of felids based on personality.”
It’s yet another lesson to read the fine print behind any inflammatory headline and look at the original citations.
The reality is we don’t know what cats are thinking. Whether they’ve been socialized or not, domestic cats are like the other feline species in the study, with the exception of lions, who are solitary and territorial creatures which is why they’re often seen at a distance staring at us from across the room. Living within their territory, it may be possible they believe they have some sort of dominion over us. But as for murderous tendencies, I’ll let you decide after watching this video whether or not your cat wants to kill you: