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31 March, 2023
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Are you living with a furry psychopath?

UK-based researchers have some interesting answers

Source: The Daily Digest

Is your cat's behavior concerning?  Does your cat enjoy staring contests and get the late-night zoomies? Does the little ball of fur sometimes randomly attack you from a high shelf?

It seems like normal stuff to most cat owners; however, a recent study by researchers at the University and Liverpool John Moores University claims that this kind of activity might mean you are living with a psychopath cat!

The UK-based team of researchers devised a survey for cat owners to determine if their "fur babies" might actually have the traits of cat psychopathy.

The researchers asked a total of 549 cat owners to complete their survey. First, they measured the "triarchic" traits, where boldness, meanness, and disinhibition are measured to determine psychopathy in humans. However, two more factors were also of interest: human-unfriendliness and pet-unfriendliness.

That is why they named the test the Cat Triarchic Plus test or the CAT-Tri+. The test consists of a total of 46 questions about your pet cat's behaviors, a lot of which are very common among our beloved felines.

According to the study published by the team, they asked owners questions about their pets such as: "My cat vocalizes loudly (e.g., meows, yowls) for no apparent reason," "My cat runs around the house for no apparent reason," and "My cat does not appear to act guilty after misbehaving."

Most of the questions really just seem to describe average cat behavior, and the study has found that all cats have some level of psychopathy and the reason is simple: evolution.

The Journal of Research in Personality says, "In an ancestral environment that demanded self-sufficiency, wild cats that had higher levels of psychopathic traits may have been more successful in acquiring resources (food, territory, mating opportunities)."

So the cats we have as pets today come from a long line of cats with psychopathic traits because that was the only way to survive.

So don't worry, your cat might be a psychopath, but he most likely doesn't want to eat you. Your furry friend only cares about: running the house, eating your food, and being a desirable mate.

Rebecca Evans, a researcher who helped develop the study, spoke to Vice's Motherboard about why they chose to study the unusual subject of cat psychopathy. Evans said, "Our cats and the differences in their personalities inspired us to start this research."

Evans then continued, "Personally, I am also interested in how owner perceptions of psychopathy in their cat can affect the cat-owner relationship. My cat (Gumball) scores relatively high on the disinhibition scale—which means he can be quite vocal, proximity-seeking, and excitable!"

Vice's Motherboard also spoke to another author of the study.  Minna Lyons said that after studying psychopathy in humans, rodents, and primates, the authors, who all love cats, "decided to join our forces, and see if psychopathy is something that is relevant in our feline friends too."

Lyons said her cat Axel who took part in the study, showed some signs of being a feline psychopath: "Axel is totally bold, and known to go into neighbor's houses, cars, and garages to search for food."

However, it should be stated that more research is needed to really prove cats are psychopaths. The questions asked in the study are pretty generic such as "my cat demands attention" or "my cat disobeys rules," behaviors that are pretty standard for the species.

If we were to apply some of the same questions to our pet dogs or even ourselves, by the study's standards, we may all be psychopaths!

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