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.