Main content area

Modified Meet your Match® Feline-alityTM validity assessment: An exploratory factor analysis of a sample of domestic cats in a Brazilian shelter

Fukimoto, Naila, Howat-Rodrigues, Anna Beatriz, Mendonça-Furtado, Olívia
Applied animal behaviour science 2019 v.215 pp. 61-67
animal behavior, animal rescue shelters, animal welfare, cats, cluster analysis, cognition, factor analysis, females, males, personality, pets, variance, Brazil
Personality in animals is a promising area dedicated to studies of temporally stable patterns of affect, cognition and behaviour. Regarding companion animals, personality assessments can promote successful adoptions relying on more than just the subjects’ physical appearance. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)1 has implemented a program called Meet your Match® (MYM)1, which assesses the personality of shelter cats. It allows adopters to choose the cat that fulfils their expectations, decreasing relinquishment and return rates and improving the welfare and adaptation of the animals in their new homes. The original MYM assessment for cats evaluates two dimensions of personality: valiance and independent-gregarious. Our objective was to check the validity of these dimensions when applying a modified version of MYM to a Brazilian cat shelter sample. We assessed 71 cats, 32 male and 39 female, with ages varying from 5 months to 12 years, all neutered. To verify validity, we conducted an exploratory study of the psychometric properties of the protocol, an exploratory factor, and a cluster analysis. The exploratory factor analysis showed that there were three dimensions with eigenvalues greater than 1 (agreeableness, openness and extraversion, respective eigenvalues: 4.72; 1.76; 1.15) and 59.4% of explained variance, which are qualitatively different from the original assessment. The cluster analysis divided our sample into two different groups: one with higher averages in agreeableness (averages; ±s.d.) (43.72; ±7.35) and extraversion (21.95; ±5.43) (p < 0.001) and the other with lower averages in agreeableness (17.00; ±7.52) and extraversion (16.86; ±4.62) (p < 0.001). Openness did not vary significantly between clusters (p = 0.088). The modified MYM showed evidences of validity based on internal structure to personality traits in a sample of Brazilian shelter cats, although our results show three personality dimensions, partially different from the ones measured by the original MYM. This research sets in motion the validation of the modified MYM protocol to Brazilian shelter cats and allows the correct interpretation of data obtained from this protocol application in a way that the aims of the original MYM (namely, satisfied adopters, improved welfare of adopted cats and less return and relinquishment) can be accomplished. Finally, this work highlights the need for validation of personality assessments when applied to different populations