There are various ways to classify cats’ personalities into types. Knowing this will make a difference when you adopt a new cat, and in understanding and communicating with your own cat based on his personality type.
One way to classify a cat’s personality type is very useful in cat adoption and adopted by some animal shelters overseas. Cats can be classified as:
- Extraverted, confident and outgoing
- Reserved at first, but affectionate given time
- Independent, does not seek much physical affection
Extraverted cats are playful and adventurous. Imagine a boisterous kitten with boundless energy, connecting with you via play, cuddles and purring. An adopter who seeks this kind of personality trait in a cat is looking for lots of fun. Extraverted kittens are almost like dogs (but without the needs for walks and are litter trained!) who enjoy play time a lot and make for great entertainment.
Initially reserved cats are usually shy upon meeting strangers but can be affectionate once they get to know you. This kind of cat is very loving, probably purrs as much as the extraverted cat or even more, but they need time, and should be allowed to come to you instead of you to them. The appeal is in winning them over to you! Adopting a cat like this makes for good quiet companionship like lying beside you while you watch TV.
Independent cats that want to be left alone are the epitome of the typical cat personality – a bit anti-social, acts like a Master, while you are the Slave that feeds, waters and cleans its litter box. And gives the occasional head-scratch. A human attracted to such a cat is understanding of cats’ eccentricities very well, and prefers such a cat to accompany a work-hectic lifestyle and preference for peace and quiet upon coming home. These cats are usually adults or senior cats, or at the very least older kittens. So if you are a workaholic who likes to chill out alone when you get home, an older cat is very much a more compatible companion for you than a young kitten.
If you know what you prefer, finding out about the cat’s personality type as above will be useful when you adopt a rescued cat from a shelter or foster home (like ours!). It may be however a bit difficult to know when you adopt from a large shelter that hasn’t interacted with the cats enough to know which kind of personality type they are: if this is important to you, adopt from an independent rescuer or rescue group that really knows the cats well.
So you bring your kitty home. Another classification of cat personalities is according to Dr Andrew Edney’s book ASPCA Complete Cat Care Manual (a must have for cat owners, this book is really good). The personalities listed are more like ‘problems’ that can be solved with the right socialisation and training.
- Intraverted cats: Timid cats
- Intraverted cats: Dependent cats
- Extraverted cats: Aggressive cats
- Extraverted cats: Straying cats
Intraverted timid cats are easily scared of humans, loud noises and such. Socialisation is key for this kind of cat, and a lot of patience. They will need to come to you and not you to them, and need safe ‘corners’ for themselves. Only expose them to strangers when they are more socialised.
Intraverted dependent cats are attention-seeking, often wanting affection and attention, and like to ‘talk’ to you. They also easily suffer from loneliness and will do well with another kitty companion.
Extraverted aggressive cats are those that play rough even with humans. They need to be trained to play only with their toys and not bite and scratch your hands and feet as if they were live mice. Do not allow your kitten to play with your bare hands as this will only encourage them to do the same when they grow up.
Extraverted straying cats are usually un-neutered cats who are looking to mate. Neuter your cat. And be disciplined in keeping him indoors. He will probably meow a lot to be let out but this is unsafe for him and you will need to take some time to let him adjust to being a fully indoor cat.