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Behav Processes. 2011 Jan;86(1):58-67. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2010.09.001. Epub 2010 Sep 15.

Factors influencing the temporal patterns of dyadic behaviours and interactions between domestic cats and their owners.

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Konrad Lorenz Research Station and Department of Behavioural Biology, University of Vienna, Althanstra├če 14, A-1090 Vienna, Austria.


Human-cat dyads may be similar in interaction structure to human dyads because many humans regard their cats as being social companions. Consequently, we predict that dyadic structure will be contingent on owner and cat personalities, sex, and age as well as duration of cohabitation of the partners. Forty owner-cat dyads were visited in their homes, on four occasions, during which their behaviours and interactions were video-taped. Behaviour was coded from tape and was analysed for temporal (t)-patterns using Theme (Noldus; Magnusson, 1996). Owner personality was assessed using the NEO-FFI. Five cat personality axes were identified by Principal Component Analysis (PCA) based on observer-rated items and on coded behaviours. We found that the higher the owner in neuroticism, the fewer t-patterns occurred per minute. The higher the owner in extraversion, the higher was the number of non-overlapping patterns per minute. The more "active" the cat, the fewer non-overlapping patterns occurred per minute, but the higher was the event type complexity. The older the cat, the lower was dyadic event type complexity. We suggest that basic temporal structures similar to those of human-cat dyads may also be found in other long-term and complex dyadic relationships, including those between humans.

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