Why do we sometimes think cats are psychopaths?

Credits: Max Pixel

Psychologists are looking into cat psychology as they are often compared to dogs.  We often give cats human characteristics and behavioural traits they don’t have.  What do the specialists say about cat psychology? 

Cats are likable “psychopaths”

Becky Evans, a psychology graduate from the University of Liverpool often heard during her studies that cats are like psychopaths.  It is true that although cats live in our houses and are considered as domestic pets that we love and adore, there is a shadowy part of their character that we don’t always understand.

On the 8 February Beck Evans posted a questionnaire on Twitter for cat owners.  She wanted to find out whether they might consider their cat as a psychopath.  The questionnaire asked people to describe their pet’s character. If they were aggressive with other animals, showed courage and recklessness and often suddenly attacked members of the household.  These behavioural characteristic are in general fairly representative of a cat.

Can a mental diagnosis be given to cat from a human perspective?  This concept comes up against one form of criticism.  Many think cats see their owner as a inexhaustible source of food above anything else.

Flawed comparison with dogs

Psychology doctor Mikel Maria Delgado from the University of California stated in an interview with the The Atlantic on the 22 February 2019:

We like things that we can identify with.  We like smiles.  We like dogs who do what we tell them to do.  We like that they obey us very quickly.  They establish lots of visual contacts.”

According to the doctor we constantly compare dogs and cats in an implicit way.  However other than the fact the two animals have been domesticated they are no real similarities. In fact dogs learn to imitate humans but cats don’t have the same facial muscles.  This means they can’t display the same facial expressions.

Cat might be called psychopaths due to their many fixed stares and their unreadable facial expressions making you think they are indifferent.  However cats can communicate more easily by the way they position their tails or their ears.


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