All cats are psychopaths

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Most people know that cats can be unpredictable. Now, scientists have developed a test which proves that cats have psychopathic characteristics.

Cats have been loved, valued and even worshipped by people for thousands of years. Their behaviour can seem unpredictable – sometimes friendly, sometimes aloof.

Now British scientists have concluded that domesticated cats also have a rather darker side, matching the markers that would indicate they are psychopathic.

Scientists from two universities in Liverpool have developed what they call the CAT-Tri+ test, the first of its kind. It consists of a questionnaire which has been made freely available online. The 46 questions are based on a scientific study in which scientists analysed a total of 2042 domestic cats using owners’ accounts of behaviour.

The questions are framed around the three main characteristics of human psychopaths: boldness, spitefulness and recklessness, plus whether the cat is friendly to other pets and humans.

Based on the answers from the 2042 cat owners, the scientists found that it likely all cats have psychopathic tendencies to varying degrees. Cats may be among the world’s most popular pets, with Statista estimating some 370m house cats worldwide. Yet they remain unpredictable, and are all predators. Australia’s 3.7m domestic cats wreak havoc on wildlife, killing an estimated 230m native Australian birds, reptiles and mammals every year. A pet cat that can roam and hunt may kill 186 mammals, reptiles and birds each year. 

If the thought of sharing your home with a carnivorous psychopath seems worrying, the scientists tell us to take it easy: such characteristics are a natural part of cats’ evolutionary history, and the test was developed to improve the relationship between humans and cats, so that pet owners, vets and others can understand individual cats as fully as possible. When at home, our psychopathic cats rarely do worse things than break vases or exhibit strange behaviour – like sudden loud cries or movement, or sitting on objects you are clearly about to use. 

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