Is Your Cat Really Just a Psychopath?

Your cat is most definitely a psychopath. At least, that’s what researchers behind a new study have determined. Plus, those same researchers have developed a questionnaire that can help you determine just how psychopathic your own cat is.


In human patients, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals diagnose psychopathy by measuring a combined collection of personality traits and behaviors. These typically involve things like meanness (characterized as a lack of empathy), disinhibition (often expressed as an inability to control impulsive behaviors) and boldness (like jumping into your favorite seat just as you were about to sit down), just to name a few.

Unsurprisingly, many pet owners have noticed that a great number of these telltale traits are shared by their feline companions, leading those folks to wonder if they were actually living with an honest to goodness, diagnosable psychopath. Now, a team of researchers from the U.K. have looked into that question, and their findings will likely be of little surprise to most, if not all, cat caregivers.


Published in the Journal of Research in Personality, the study looked at the relationships between 2,042 human caregivers and their feline charges. This involved owners answers questions about their furry friend’s reactions to other animals, how they treat other humans both familiar and unfamiliar, as well a wide range of similarly designed behavioral and attitude revealing questions, which included things like sudden mood changes or reactions to being petted.

This study was all done in hopes of identifying and quantifying the animals’ CAT-Tri+ score, which is a scale developed by the team behind the study used to measure your feline’s psychopathic traits.

“The questionnaire (also) asks for information about how adventurous your cat is when exploring, how it reacts to danger, how it responds to other cats, whether or not it needs constant stimulation, and how well it follows house rules,” explains a post in Sciencealert.

And as previously noted, what the research team found seems to align with anecdotal evidence describing the “love/hate/indifference” relationship most humans share with their pet cats.

“It is likely that all cats have an element of psychopathy,” said Evans in a piece for Metro, “as it would have once been helpful for their ancestors in terms of acquiring resources: for example food, territory, and mating opportunities.”


As a public service, as well as a tool to gather even more information, the research team has made their 46 question test available online. This means anyone hoping to quantify their own animal’s level of psychopathy can do so. Of course, the researchers also note that aside from morbid curiosity, this CAT Tri+ score could theoretically help owners adapt their environment and other factors to reduce aggression or other unwanted behaviors.

“Personally, I am also interested in how owner perceptions of psychopathy in their cat can affect the cat-owner relationship,” said Evans. “My cat Gumball scores relatively highly on the disinhibition scale – which means he can be quite vocal, proximity-seeking and excitable.”

Of course, getting your cat to adapt their behavior is a challenge in the best of circumstances. But in the end, it is still important to remember how your most-loved pet makes you feel, and that no matter the final CAT Tri+ score, or how psychopathic your feline friend may actually be, if you die first, your cat will almost surely eat you.

Have a Merry Christmas.

Follow and connect with author Christopher Plain on Twitter: @plain_fiction