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Understanding Your Cat’s Personality: A Happy Cat Expert Explains!

Just like in humans, cats’ personalities are the result of complex interactions between various individual traits. It’s these specific combinations of traits that give rise to the wonderful and unique character of each cat. So how we can use our understanding of cat behaviour and personality to ensure we’re meeting our cats’ needs?

In a previous article, we covered several cat behaviour traits that are particularly important to consider when it comes to our pets’ compatibility with us and our lifestyles. In this article, we’re going to focus on how we can use our understanding of these traits, and the degree to which they are expressed in our cats, in order to optimise their wellbeing.

Ultimately, wherever your cat sits on the various spectrums of these different traits, it’s important to accept that a cat’s personality cannot be altered. Instead, aiming to understand their individual needs and how we can best manage their environment is the key to a happy cat.

Sociability Towards Humans

The less sociable a cat is towards people, the more they will typically struggle living around us and in our homes. Having the ability to control the nature of any interactions with people, and to avoid them where needed, will be absolutely key to managing the wellbeing of cats that do not have high levels of this trait. Cats with this personality trait will benefit from lots of quiet areas in the home that they can go and be undisturbed, in addition to having constant access to an enriching outdoor environment to support their autonomy.

Ginger cat investigating a young man’s hair.

A cat with a highly sociable personality, on the other hand, will tend to be quite focused on the humans they live with. These cats can be sensitive to changes in our moods and general comings and goings within the home. Whilst this can create a wonderfully close cat-human bond, it’s important to bear in mind that these socially sensitive felines can also be negatively impacted by our stress levels and negative emotions. Therefore, even with super friendly felines, it’s still important to be aware of the social pressures we might be placing on them, and to also encourage their autonomy. For example, we can:

  • Encourage self-play and exploration (e.g. indoor enrichment, toys, puzzle feeders).
  • Provide sociable cats with calm, quiet areas to spend time away from people.
  • Provide them with an enriching outdoor space.
  • Provide them with quality one-on-one time with their favorite human, ideally at predictable times each day.

Sociability Towards Cats

There are certain types of cat personality that mean they tend to get on well with other cats, under the right circumstances. However, there are also many cats that have specific social preferences when it comes to other felines, as well as those that have an equal dislike for all other cats. While there are no guarantees, cohabiting cats are generally more likely to get along if:

  • They have grown up together, either from birth or as young kittens.
  • Each cat has a good level of physical and mental wellbeing.
  • They have a calm, predictable environment.
  • They have access to plenty of their key resources without having to compete with each other.
  • Each cat is compatible with other group members (i.e. think about their ages, temperaments, sex, individual needs, previous socialization).
  • Where there are cats that are really struggling to live with others, they may need completely separate living areas, or in some cases, to be rehomed.

Pair of cats walking together outdoors.

Whilst it can be common to observe behavioral changes in one cat when their well-bonded cat companion passes away, it is advisable not to rush into the decision to get a ‘replacement companion’ for them. This is because your remaining cat might have a ‘selectively social’ cat personality rather than necessarily being social with all other cats. 

Frustration Tendency

Cats that are easily frustrated are likely to need a careful balance of predictability and control, but also positive stimulation and various cognitive challenges. To manage easily-frustrated cat personality traits, follow this advice:

  • Try keeping feeding, play times, and human attention to predicable daily schedules.
  • Provide a range of cat shelves, tunnels, cat trees, and hiding places. Regularly scatter treats, cat-friendly herbs (e.g. cat nip or valerian) and a range of toys withing these areas.
  • Place their daily food portions within puzzle feeders.
  • If your cat has a playful personality, provide them with regular interactive play sessions, using cat wands or fishing rod-type toys.
  • Ensure your cat has complete choice and control during petting and interactions with people.
  • Provide them with constant access to an enriching cat-friendly space outdoors.

Ginger cat playing outside.

Timidity and Confidence

Cats that are generally timid tend to be very sensitive to changes or disturbances in their environment. Helping anxious cats to feel safe and in control as much as possible are key for this cat personality. Timid cats will benefit from:

  • The ability to quickly retreat from any situations they find stressful or frightening.
  • A calm, quiet environment where the good things (e.g. feeding, play) and also not so good things (e.g. vacuuming, cleaning, busy social activities) happen at predictable times.
  • Lots of opportunities to hide and get up high.
  • Quiet areas of the house where they can go and rest undisturbed.
  • Their resources located in quiet areas of the house, near to hiding spaces or shelves.

Are you interested in finding more tips and advice from our wonderful team of Happy Cat Experts? Discover our whole range of expert articles online covering everything from understanding cat behaviour to how we can create the perfect feline environment in our homes! You can also stay informed with all the latest tips, Q&As, and FELIWAY info by signing up to our newsletter.

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