Your cat is super cuddly and adorable… and also kind of terrifying. And before you say, “No, not my little Fluffy McMeows! She wouldn’t hurt a fly,” sorry, but you’re wrong. That is, according to recent research that suggests cats pretty much want to kill their owners. Yikes.
In a recent study, researchers from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and the Bronx Zoo in New York compared the personalities of domestic house cats. . . to those of four different kinds of wildcats. They did this by rating their behaviors using the “Big Five” personality test, which measures extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness. And here’s the thing: turns out that in terms of personality, cats aren’t all that different from their big wild cousins. In fact, they have similar personalities to those of African lions. Gulp.
“Across the five felid species we assessed, personality structure was strikingly similar and also seemed to be related to other studies’ findings, such as in cheetahs and tigers,” the researchers wrote in their study.
“It’s what cats pretty much do on a daily basis, things like being anxious, being timid, being excitable, being aggressive toward humans, being aggressive toward each other,” Max Wachtel, a Denver psychologist not affiliated with the study, said. “All of those are characteristics you see in those cute little fuzzy house cats, and you also see them in lions.”
Essentially, if you’ve ever noticed your cat acting anxious, suspicious, or aggressive to you, you should be REALLY happy your cat is small, because if they were bigger, they would likely try to kill you.
Of course, big predatory cats like lions also have a more playful side, which is why your cat may feel like playing sometimes too — but their unpredictable nature (See also: When your cat wants you to pet his belly and then suddenly bites you when you pet him for a second too long) can be explained by the personality structure the researchers found.
“It is good to understand the personality characteristics of our pets. Different cats have different personalities. But as a species, there are a lot of commonalities,” Wachtel said. “They’re cute and furry and cuddly, but we need to remember when we have cats as pets, we are inviting little predators into our house.”
If you love cats, it’s OK — Fluffy won’t murder you when your back is turned. Just be really, really happy that your cat is the size he is, because any bigger and you would probably be Meow Mix. “For a lot of people, it is worth it,” Wachtel continued. “Cats can be fantastic, sweet companions. Until they turn on you.”
Love at your own risk, cat-lovers. (Or maybe just become a dog person.)
(Image via Shutterstock.)