I just found this curious empirical study, published last year in the academic journal Psychological Reports, on the personality structure of domestic cats.
The study analysed owner ratings and found four underlying components of cat personality.
Personality in domestic cats.
Psychol Rep. 2007 Feb;100(1):27-9.
Lee CM, Ryan JJ, Kreiner DS.
Personality ratings of 196 cats were made by their owners using a 5-point Likert scale anchored by 1: not at all and 5: a great deal with 12 items: timid, friendly, curious, sociable, obedient, clever, protective, active, independent, aggressive, bad-tempered, and emotional. A principal components analysis with varimax rotation identified three intepretable components. Component I had high loadings by active, clever, curious, and sociable. Component II had high loadings by emotional, friendly, and protective, Component III by aggressive and bad-tempered, and Component IV by timid. Sex was not associated with any component, but age showed a weak negative correlation with Component I. Older animals were rated less social and curious than younger animals.
How long before we start having ‘personality disorder‘ for domestic cats I wonder. Cat psychiatrists, start your engines.
Link to PubMed entry for paper.