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Do cats copy your personality?

It’s a common belief that pets take on the personality traits of their owners over time. As cats and humans cohabitate, they begin to influence each other’s behavior and moods. But is there any scientific evidence that cats truly copy their owner’s personality? Let’s take a look at what the experts have to say.

Do cats adopt their owner’s personality traits?

There is some evidence that cats may take on qualities of their owner’s personality, but the connection is not quite as strong as with dogs. Dr. John Bradshaw, cat behavior expert and author of the book Cat Sense, explains: “Cats are just as capable of developing different kinds of personality as dogs are, but they aren’t as overtly demonstrative about it. Dogs show their personality in how they react to their owners – some are extrovert, others neurotic, others laid-back. Cats are far less dependent on people for stimulation.”

While cats are more independent than dogs, long-term bonds with caring owners can influence a cat’s personality over time. Shy, timid cats may gradually become more confident and affectionate after years of positive socialization experiences. Conversely, cats from chaotic households may become more anxious or reactive.

Bradshaw notes that genetics and early life experiences are the primary determinants of cat personality. But living with a consistent owner who treats them well may bring out their innate qualities. So while cats don’t necessarily copy specific personality traits, their owners help shape the expression of their natural tendencies over time.

Do cat owners influence their cat’s behavior?

There is stronger evidence that owners influence the behavior of their cats in subtle ways. A 2020 study published in the journal PLOS ONE found that cats mirror the personality traits of their owners in some interesting ways:

  • Cats with owners who scored higher in neuroticism were more likely to engage in anxious behaviors like licking themselves excessively.
  • Cats with more agreeable owners tended to be less aggressive and more calm around strangers.
  • Cats with extroverted owners were more excitable and active.

The authors suggest cats may pick up on subtle cues and body language from their attentive, attached owners over time. For example, an anxious owner may unconsciously transmit tension that puts their cat more on edge.

However, the authors acknowledge cat personality is complex. Not all neurotic owners will have anxious cats. But this study does indicate owners can influence certain behavioral responses in their cats through their presence and interactions.

Do cats match their owner’s energy level?

Some cat owners notice their high-energy cats seem to pick up on and match their vibrant moods and activity levels. And their more laid-back cats appear totally unphased by an owner’s chaotic moments. This potential personality syncing may come down to energy matching and intuitive bonds between owners and cats.

Animal behaviorist Jackson Galaxy explains that cats are extremely perceptive of our energy levels and states of being. An excitable owner who plays vigorously or talks loudly may rile up their cat to match that energy. But a calm demeanor can soothe a cat.

Galaxy also notes that routine-oriented cats thrive when their owners have predictable patterns of feeding, play, and interaction. Sticking to a steady rhythm builds trust and may bring out your cat’s most relaxed personality.

How might cat personalities evolve together?

Cats demonstrate a range of individual personality dimensions similar to humans and dogs. Some of the personality traits identified in cats include:

  • Neuroticism or anxiousness
  • Extroversion or excitability
  • Agreeableness in relating to others
  • Openness to new experiences
  • Sociability or preference for companionship

A 2019 study published in the Journal of Research in Personality evaluated cat personality based on owner surveys. The researchers identified five distinct feline personality dimensions. The chart below summarizes some of the common traits associated with each factor:

Personality Dimension Common Traits
Neuroticism Anxious, insecure, irritable
Extroversion Playful, excitable, energetic
Agreeableness Friendly, gentle, calm
Openness Curious, adventurous, intelligent
Sociability Companionable, attached, affectionate

Kristyn Vitale, the study’s lead researcher, notes that cat personality is the result of both genetics and learned experiences over time. Kittens exposed to human interaction from 2-7 weeks old tend to be more sociable and less fearful as adults. And positive ongoing socialization helps maintain friendly, confident personality traits.

Vitale explains that owners contribute to shaping their cat’s personality as it develops: “Cats behave differently in different environments. Your cat’s environment includes you. Cats can change their personalities as they age and have new experiences, too. So if you want your cat to become more confident, you can use positive reinforcement training to gradually get them more comfortable with new people and environments.”

Do cat-owner personalities clash?

While cats may gradually sync up with certain traits of their caring owners, sometimes mismatches happen. An introverted owner may feel overwhelmed by a highly demanding and extroverted cat. Or a bold cat’s mischievous antics could frustrate an orderly owner.

Jackson Galaxy suggests looking for needed balance in these situations. An extroverted cat may help draw a shy owner out of their shell over time. And a calm owner can provide grounding for an excitable cat prone to chaos.

With training adjustments on both sides, owners and cats can adapt in ways that smooth out the rough edges over time. Compromise and flexibility helps achieve personality equilibrium.

Can you change your cat’s ingrained personality?

While cats are adaptable, you can’t fundamentally change an introverted cat into an extrovert, or vice versa. But you can modify problematic behaviors or help your cat express their natural tendencies in healthier ways.

For example, a fearful cat prone to aggression can learn positive new responses to strangers with gradual counterconditioning. And destructive behaviors stemming from boredom can be redirected into engaging play and enrichment.

Work with your veterinarian or cat behaviorist if you need targeted advice on modifying unwanted habits while staying true to your cat’s personality.


Cats may not copy their owner’s personalities entirely, but long-term bonds can bring out a cat’s innate qualities. Owners help shape their cat’s sociability, excitability, anxiety levels, and other behavioral responses through their presence and interactions. Cats also intuitively pick up on our energetic states. Adjusting care routines to fit both the owner’s and cat’s personality style can create needed balance.