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Is your cat a child substitute?

Recent research has suggested that cat ownership can act as a substitute for having children. 

The researchers assessed the personalities of more than 3000 cat owners and then asked those owners about the health of their cat, including its weight and behaviour. 

They found that owners with more neurotic personalities tended to have cats that suffered from issues including obesity and stress-related illnesses. The cats were also prone to aggression and other behavioural problems. This is exactly the same pattern that is found in parent-child relationships.

On the other hand, more conscientious and level-headed owners tended to have cats – and children -that were more relaxed and friendly.

We therefore seem to have a huge influence on our pet’s personality – and this effect has been noted in dog-owners as well as cat owners. Not only do we choose a pet that seems to reflect how we are, we also mould it – unintentionally – into being a “mini-me”.

One quite interesting aspect of this research is that how one’s pet turns out is all to do with “nurture”, whereas one’s child’s personality is often attributed, at least in part, to “nature”. One passes on one’s genes to one’s child, and this is sometimes used as an explanation – or is it an excuse? – for the way the child turns out. If the pet/child analogy is accepted, then maybe our own behaviour has far more influence on that of our children than we are sometimes willing to admit.

  • Do you have a cat?

    • Yes
    • No
  • If so, does it share your personality?

    • Yes
    • No
  • Do you regard your cat as another family member?

    • Yes
    • No

What do you think?

14 points

Written by Indexer

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    • I don’t think the implication was that there was anything wrong with that concept. The research was merely pointing to the fact that pet personalities can be influenced by that of their owners much as parents influence their children.

  1. All my pets were my children basically as I decided a long time ago not to have any kids. I have had both dogs and cats. None of my dogs or cats were overweight, hyper or too laid back. I always brought my dogs for daily walks, rarely fed them table scraps and let them sleep with me in the bed. My cats were treated the same way (except no daily walks for them), no table scraps and a lot of playtime and affection. All my pets rewarded me with endless love and attention. Also all my pets were spayed or neutered so no surprises. All of them were my immediate and best loved and loving family…

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