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Your cat shares traits with a killer creature

Photo: ABC

Photo: ABC

Domestic cats and African lions may share three core personality traits – neuroticism, dominance and impulsiveness – but researchers say it is unlikely your four-legged friend is out to get you.

Researchers at Edinburgh University worked in collaboration with the Bronx Zoo to compare the behaviour of domestic cats with their much larger, wild relatives and found the two shared strikingly similar personality traits.

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But although the cat may essentially be a miniature lion, one of the researchers, Marieke Gartner, has cleared up just how far those similarities go – and whether your dearly beloved pet views you as prey or not.

To suggest your cat actually wants to kill you would be “a pretty far stretch”, Dr Gartner told CNET.

“Cats don’t want to bump you off,” she said.

lions in a river

Domestic cats are very similar to African lions. Photo: National Geographic

“But people often don’t know how to treat them and then are surprised by their behaviour.”

The study, published in the Journal of Comparative Psychology in August last year, compared the personality structures of the domestic cat, Scottish wildcat, clouded leopard, snow leopard and African lion.

The research found that each species had “three factors of personality”, the authors wrote, and “personality structure was strikingly similar” across the five species.

The domestic cat and African lion exhibited particular similarities, however, both demonstrating neuroticism, dominance and impulsiveness.

But although felines as a species share several similarities, Dr Gartner told CNET domestic cats “ended up living with us because it was a mutually beneficial situation”.

Dr Gartner also said all domestic cats were different.

“Cats have different personalities … Some cats are more independent, some are quite loving. It just depends on the individual,” she said.

“It’s not that cats are self-centred. It’s that they are a more solitary or semi-solitary species.”

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