Is your cat a psychopath? My little monster is grumpy and doesn't suffer fools gladly but she is also often sweet, loving and cuddly so I'm pretty sure she's not psychopathic.
Now researchers have developed a detailed questionnaire that owners can use to analyse their pets to see if they possess psychopathic tendencies.
The test, named the CAT-Tri+, comes in the form of 46 statements that require owners to rate how well each one describes their pet.
The study was carried out by a group of scientists from the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores Universityin the UK and has been published in the Journal of Research in Personality.
Based on the relationship between 2,042 owners and their cats, the test is the first tool available to measure psychopathy in cats.
Owners must rank on a five-point scale statements including: “My cat torments their prey rather than killing it straight away”, “my cat vocalises loudly (e.g meows, yowls) for no apparent reason”, and “my cat is very excitable (e.g goes into ‘overdrive’ and becomes uncoordinated)”.
Other statements include observing whether your cat sits in high places, whether they “dominate” the neighbourhood cats, and whether they purr when attacking people or animals.
The results help measure the cat’s levels of “meanness” – traits such as a lack of empathy and callous aggression – “disinhibition” as in issues with behavioural restraint, “boldness” as well as its level of unfriendliness towards people and other pets.
Lead researcher Rebecca Evans of Liverpool University said: “In our study, we developed a questionnaire measure of psychopathy in domestic cats.
“The questionnaire was developed using owner-provided examples of their cat’s behaviour in the context of the triarchic model of psychopathy (boldness, meanness, and disinhibition).
“The final questionnaire measures five factors of feline psychopathy: boldness, meanness, disinhibition, pet-unfriendliness and human-unfriendliness.”
She continued: “A cat that has a high score on the boldness scale may benefit from large cat trees and tall scratching posts, as the Cat-Tri+ items suggest that a bold cat enjoys exploring and climbing.
“Providing environmental enrichment for bold cats may reduce agonistic behaviours towards people, other pets, and possessions.”
Researchers hope the test will help improve relationships between cats and their owners, and in turn reduce the number of pets that end up in shelters or being put down.