Researchers investigate temperament testing to help cats find compatible home

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Millions of cats are estimated to relinquished to shelters each year, and not meeting the behavioral expectations of the family is often a given reason.

But, according to a press release, researchers are looking into testing cat behavior and temperament as a way of helping find felines compatible, happy homes.

Results of a newly-published study led by researchers at the University of Missouri and funded by HABRI and the Winn Feline Foundation in the Animal Studies Journal demonstrate the effectiveness of using a temperament profile — specifically the Feline Temperament Profile (FTP) — in assessing the behavioral responses of cats in different situations.

What’s more, the team looked at whether the FTP, a 10-phase tool covering 73 behaviors, can be successfully shortened to make it more practical to administer in animal shelters.

Results indicate that the FTP may, indeed, be shortened with no loss of reliability. That shortened version can likely serve as a quick tool for animal shelters and rescue organizations to assess a cat’s temperament, find it a compatible home, and reduce failed adoptions.

“Cat temperament assessments can help shelters and rescue organizations better place cats into the right homes, and are especially important for families with special needs who may fare better with a more social and calm cat,” said Dr. Gretchen Carlisle, Research Scientist at the University of Missouri and Principal Investigator of the Feline Friends study, in the press release.

Traditional tests to assess cat behavior may take as long as three days, which has potential to create a backlog in shelters that face staffing or operational limitations.

The FTP was developed in 1983 and designed to assess the suitability of cats for placement in nursing homes. This study required an “acceptable” score of 20 or higher, with no disqualifying behaviors such as hissing or biting.

The team of researchers included data from 70 cats aged 10 months to four years from two animal shelters in Missouri. Study staff were trained to perform the FTP test.

“With some minor training of staff, the FTP can be used to identify social and calm cats that are better suitable for a family with special needs, while a cat that is not attention-seeking can be assessed and adopted by other families without these unique challenges,” added study team member Angélique Lamontagne in the release.


Salman, M. D., Hutchison, J., Ruch-Gallie, R., Kogan, L., New Jr, J. C., Kass, P. H., & Scarlett, J. M. (2000). Behavioral reasons for relinquishment of dogs and cats to 12 shelters. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 3(2), 93-106.


  1. I agree too. I think maybe potential adopters could be helped by a little more information about what to expect: Kitty may use your bathroom mat instead of litter box, or scratch the couch with its claws, but adoption should be for the long haul, not because of issues that can usually be corrected.

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