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Cat’s Shape–Clues to Personality?

Cat’s Shape–Clues to Personality?

When searching for a cat or kitten to adopt, how can you tell if your selection will be a lap lounger, a shy cat, or an adventure seeker? Purebred cats tend to have certain characteristics personality traits, though individuals within breeds may be very different. With the typical shelter cat, personality clues may be linked to the shape of the cat’s face.

Kit Jenkins, program manager for PetSmart Charities, has spent more than 20 years studying the behavior of cats and dogs in animal shelters. She has developed a theory of cat face geometry , which is based on the fact that feline faces usually fall into one of three physical shapes: square, round, or triangle. While noting that genetics and life experience play major roles in how cats think and act, Jenkins contends that parsonality is also influenced be a cat’s physical shape. Here’s how she describes the various types.

SQUARE. These cats are big and solid with square faces and rectangular bodies. Think Maine Coon. Jenkins dubs them the “retrievers of the cat world.” Eager to please, square cats tend to be affectionate and love to snuggle and give head-butts.

ROUND. These cats sport flat faces, large eyes, circular heads, and rounded bodies. Think Persian or Burmese. These types might be called the “lap dogs” of the feline world. They tend to be low-energy, easily frightened, submissive cats who gently display their affection to trusted family members.

TRIANGULAR. These are the sleek, long, lanky cats with big ears and faces that narrow at the nose. Think Siamese or Cornish Rex. Jenkins calls them the “herding dogs of the cat world.” Triangle cats are curious, smart, athletic, and chatty, and they thrive in active households.

Jenkins has shared her personality theory with shelter workers, animal trainers, and behaviorists all over North America. Animal behaviorists and veterinarians say her observations serve as another tool in helping people find a cat who meets their lifestyle and personality. Although just a theory, Jenkin’s observations have been supported by her peers; to date, though, nothing has been published in a scientific journal.

When I think about all of the cats I have loved, it’s almost uncanny how well Jenkin’s theory holds up. Does her theory work with the cats in your home? Do you have a curious “triangle” or a lap-loving “round”? Tell us!

Adapted from The Cat Behavior Answer Book (Storey Publishing, 2007) by Arden Moore.

Read more: Behavior & Communication, Cats, Pets, , , ,

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.

69 comments

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8:20PM PDT on May 6, 2013

not sure about this...but it makes for good reading!

10:31PM PDT on Mar 25, 2013

Thanks! I will bring a copy of this article with me for our kitten adoption at the humane society this spring.

8:59AM PST on Mar 7, 2013

I'm not really sure I agree. When i go to get a new kitty, my test to see if it's gonna be a good match is if they give me a kiss or not. If they kiss me, I know it's meant to me :)

12:22PM PST on Mar 5, 2013

Not sure about this. I have 2 tabbies, sisters from the same litter. They couldn't be more different. Maybe it's a purebred thing. Our third, a tabby-ragdoll type mix, has more of a round face. She is not Persian or Burmese, but definitely is my lap cat. So maybe there's something to that.

4:08PM PST on Jan 6, 2013

I dunno about this.

1:38AM PST on Jan 5, 2013

Thanks :))

12:35PM PST on Jan 4, 2013

I have shared my house with cats' of all shapes, sizes and colours and loved each of them because of their different personalities'.There was never a dull moment with any of them.I just love cats!!!

8:37PM PST on Jan 3, 2013

I think you are on to something! Thank you!

5:55PM PST on Jan 3, 2013

Funny.

3:52PM PST on Nov 20, 2012

I have three "triangular" faced kitties (Flame point Siamese) and they fit the description. They are amazing! And the best part is they keep each other entertained while their humans are out :) Thanks for the article.

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