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Most cats are psychopaths, new study says

By NICK GARCIA Published Dec 13, 2021 3:54 pm

Cat lovers may grin like a Cheshire cat less, as a new study suggests that their feline friends could, apparently, be considered psychopaths. 

Researchers at the United Kingdom's University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University surveyed cat owners to determine their pets' psychopathy levels, based on human standards.

Psychopathy in humans is often characterized by a lack of empathy and a tendency to manipulate others. American medical news website WebMD, meanwhile, says psychopaths "often come across as charming and engaging at first, but they may become demanding or physically aggressive."

The researchers' findings were published in the December issue of the Journal of Research in Personality. In the study, researchers surveyed pet owners and found that many cats fell somewhere on the spectrum of psychopathy based on the "triarchic" concept, which determines levels of boldness, meanness, and inhibition in humans.

Their 46-question survey asked 549 participants to rate on a five-factor scale, from “Does not describe my cat” to “Describes my cat extremely well,” how much their cat “torments their prey rather than killing it straight away,” “vocalizes loudly (e.g. meows, yowls) for no apparent reason," and “is undeterred by punishment i.e. will repeat behaviors he/she is scolded for," among others.

Researchers also added "human-unfriendliness" and "pet-unfriendliness" in the criteria and came up with Cat Triarchic Plus (CAT-Tri+), a new method to measure feline psychopathy.

In an interview with Vice's Motherboard, researchers said the cats' psychopathic tendencies might have been inherited from their wild ancestors, which thrived in hunting preys, securing territories, and acquiring mates.

They've also made their questionnaire public to let cat lovers around the world determine how much of a psycho-cat their kitties are.