Cats could actually take after owners

By Shayna Brouker • Published: April 2nd, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

You might have seen dogs that take after their owners physically — golden retrievers with friendly, bouncy blonde owners, or rat terriers that exhibit a Napoleon complex just like their miniscule mom or dad. But could the other favorite pet species, the sovereign cat, deign to take after its owners too? This is not an April Fool’s joke. The Journal of Veterinary Behavior found that cats could model the behavior of their people, down to their eating, sleeping and hygiene habits.

The scientists studied two groups of cats, both belonging to people who worked during the day and returned home at night. One group lived in smaller abodes and stayed close to their owners, while the other group lived a more feral existence both indoor and outdoor. They also slept outside at night. The cats in the first group eventually reflected the lives of their owners, even using the bathroom at the same time as them. Cats also tend to adopt the personalities of their people, becoming shy, outgoing, friendly or arrogant. On the other hand, the freewheeling felines who slept outside at night started behaving more like feral cats with more independent inclinations.

Likewise, there is some credence to the idea that humans fall into two categories: cat people or dog people. A University of Texas at Austin study found that self-described dog people typically exhibit extroversion, friendliness and conscientiousness. Cat people usually rank higher in neuroticism and openness to experiences.

So despite their perceived standoffishness, you can in fact influence your cat’s behavior. Practice productive play by encouraging your kitty to play with toys rather than your hands or furniture. Provide entertainment with a fish tank or T-V during the day. And to make sure you can get some sleep at night, play with and feed your kitty right before bed. You’ll be on the same schedule in no time.