From proudly presenting a fresh kill to their owners to howling at empty rooms, cats' behavior has long prompted suspicion over their mental state. Are they really tiny Patrick Batemans, killing and maiming without remorse?
Owners may be one step closer to a diagnosis, thanks to a new questionnaire that could offer insight into whether your cat is an actual psychopath.
A new study from researchers at the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University, and published in the Journal of Research in Personality, explores how a human psychopathy test can be adapted for felines. They recruited 2042 participants to assess their cat’s behavior across a number of categories. The resulting questionnaire, which can be found online here, assesses cats' levels of boldness (or fearlessness), disinhibition (or disobedience), and meanness are assessed, which is known as the triarchic model of psychopathy in humans.
But researchers also added two new categories: pet-unfriendliness and human-unfriendliness. This is calculated to determine a CAT-Tri+ measure, where traits of human psychopathy like lack of empathy and manipulation appear strong.
Owners are asked to rate how their cat fits descriptions, from “does not describe my cat” to “describes my cat extremely well.” Some of the queries:
My cat explores dangerous places My cat seems unaware of danger My cat torments their prey rather than killing it straight away My cat disturbs people/pets when they are resting My cat does not appear to act guilty after misbehaving My cat dominates me
Each response is worth between one and five points, which are then added by category, divided by the number of questions, and then added to achieve a total score. The higher the total, the more likely it is your cat exhibits psychopathic tendencies.
That data, according to researchers, might correlate to the strength of a cat/owner relationship. A cat scoring as mean and bold may be a predictor of a strained dynamic. It can also be useful, as cats demonstrating certain traits may benefit from addressing the issues. A bold cat, for example, may simply need more outlets for their energy.
If your cat psychopathy score alarms you, be sure to reach out for assistance, counseling, and medication. Not for the cat, but for yourself.
[h/t Science Alert]