Five Words To Describe Cats

words to describe cats
Recently I read an article that stated the high number of people that dislike cats.  Being an equal lover of both cats and dogs, it distressed me to read the statistics. I did some informal research on the subject to discover words to describe cats.

I polled ten people with various perspectives: dog owners, cat owners and those that don’t own pets.

Words To Describe Cats

Cat People

Cat People responded with words like:  calming, hilarious, snuggly, intelligent, playful, independent, loving, friendly and cute.

Dog People

Dog People responded with words like:  independent, clingy, quiet, smelly (litterbox), allergies, sneaky, cute, roaming, and adaptable.

Those WIthout Pets

Words to describe cats from those that don’t own any pets included:  sneaky, loner, allergies, aloof, loyal, furry, and purr.

How To Change Perceptions

In reviewing the feedback, those that own dogs or don’t have any pets usually held the common belief cats are sneaky and cause allergies.  Not very good news for cats hoping to find permanent homes!

There are many funny pictures and videos online of cats, as a matter of fact cats tend to rule the web. It bothers me, though, that words such as ‘jerk” and “as*hole” are often used in the headlines of said funny stories.

I wonder if some of the humor we distribute feeds the negative perceptions many people have regarding cats.  When looking for funny stories featuring cats to share on social media, I search for material that highlights the feline sense of humor in a positive way.

I haven’t always considered myself a “cat person”, but as I tell those I meet that say they don’t like cats,  it’s simply a matter of not yet meeting the right cat.

Give cats a chance. Once I met and adopted my cat Bo, he educated me on the fun, loving nature of cats. My perception of cats was forever changed in a good way thanks to him!

Looking for some feedback, so please leave a comments indicating what five words you would use to describe cats? What do you think would help change the public image for cats?



Written by Karen


Karen is Publisher of Fully Feline. She also owns a pet care business in Overland Park, KS called Joy of Living.

39 Responses to "Five Words To Describe Cats"

  1. What would help changing the public image of cats is people being educated. If they already don’t like cats they probably don’t wish to be educated about them but I think the education could and should start in elementary school.

    Also…if people read more about cats and spent TIME with cats that could help to dispel some myths.

    My five words: intuitive, intelligent, calming, loving, FUN!

    1. I definitely agree about spending time with/getting to know cats being a big help.

      The one word that came up more than any other was “sneaky”. In my experience, my dog is usually much sneakier than my cat 🙂

      1. Social media is probably sick of me because half of what I post is “cat” oriented. Big or domestic I LOVE CATS and I possibly assumed the attributes I admire as basic to my own outlook on life. Clean, independent, true to self, self-reliant and equally loyal when respected as any dog I have ever owned.

  2. This is a terrific concept to “test” true feelings about cats. I also agree with Caren about starting kids early. Just as pets need socialization, so do children to develop the “pet effect” and enjoy/appreciate cats and dogs (and other critters). There may be times when parents are too busy or unable for other reasons to include pets–but I could see a pet class being added to curriculums or even visiting pet programs. Hmnn.

    1. Yes. Until someone has the positive experience, the old perceptions remain. As I wrote in the post, my thoughts didn’t change until I met my cat, Bo. He taught me!

  3. I agree that many people don’t THINK they like cats until they either spend time with one or have one. My husband, who never had cats growing up, never said he disliked them necessarily, but also probably wouldn’t have gotten one without me. But once we had one, he became a complete cat lover.

    Five words: loving, adorable, snuggly, entertaining, fascinating

    1. I’ve heard that from others. I think it used to not be considered “manly” for men to have a cat as a pet. Thankfully, I believe that belief is changing and it’s become rather cool to be a cat dad. Glad your husband came over to the “cat side.” 🙂

  4. I get annoyed by how ignorant many people are about cats, their perceptions based on nothing closely resembling personal experience. When I hear those kinds of negative comments I’m quick to step in with some “corrections.” I love cats and dogs, and shared my life with cats for many many years before I ever got a dog and I miss sharing my life with them. Hopefully that will change soon.

  5. Well I’m a dog AND a cat person! Both have their own ways and personalities but they each bring a smile and happiness into my life 🙂

  6. CLINGY?? SNEAKY?? Really people are becoming more and more polarised about animals. We need to educate people to show them what cats are like. They are, in fact, exactly like people! Some are wonderful, kind and sharing, they change a person’s world, and some are unpleasant fixtures in our daily lives.

    1. I’ve often said that, too! Cats are like us….maybe that’s part of the issue, that looking in the mirror and not liking what they see?

  7. The perception definitely needs to change. I agree, people need to give cats a chance. My dogs are just as sneaky as our cat and she is also just as loving and cuddly as my dogs. 🙂 Five words to describe my cat – funny, loving, loyal, cute and independent.

  8. I’m so surprised by this, I really thought people had moved toward having more positive feelings about cats. I think I read somewhere that more Millennials have cats than dogs right now, and cat videos are super popular. I happen to love both. I’d love to get a cat again but I have allergies that have gotten worse as I’ve gotten older, such a sad fact for me. I agree with Karen G. that education and spending more time with cats is the key to dispelling some old time myths about cats. They are every bit as wonderful as dogs!
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    1. I wrote a blog post about millenials and cats a while ago. Although I have both, my personality aligns more with cats. Cats are great in so many ways, what I like the best about them…..they are selective in picking their human(s). When you are picked by a cat, it is special. I always thank cats when they accept me, consider it an honor. Dogs have been considered “the pet to have” for so long. The people I polled informally were older than millenials. If millenials and younger were polled, I think/hope the responses would be more embracing of cats. My five words: loving, humorous, intuitive, intelligent, determined

  9. I love all the critters, including cats! I wish I wasn’t allergic so I could spend time with them. Sometimes, I suffer through the allergy symptoms (i.e. massive headache) to say howdy to a cat even when I know I shouldn’t. That’s why god invented benadryl…

  10. As a person who grew up with dogs and discovered cats late in life, I can relate very well to this article. Having come from both worlds, my opinion is that dogs are individuals and so are cats. We adopted a senior dog who didn’t like to snuggle, but also have one that loves to kiss as if his life depends on it. We have a cat who likes to be free, but also one that curls up nightly on my lap. Animals are as unique as people.

    My five words for cats would be: loving, playful, curious, quirky, and determined.

    One way to change the image of cats is to show them doing all the fun and weird things they do. Deborah Barnes wrote a book on that very topic called Making Biscuits. And of course the best way to do this is to have people spend time with cats!

    1. I agree, animals are individuals, just like us. Like your five words, I agree with them. Hadn’t thought of quirky, but that’s a great one!

      1. Thank you Allison for mentioning Makin’ Biscuits – Weird Cat Habits and the Even Weirder Habits of the Humans Who Love Them. While the book is highly entertaining and often quite humorous, it also has a much more serious message in mind – educating people about cat behavior and dispelling the many misnomers and stereotypes about cats. I’m happy to say the book is getting wonderful reviews and it has even been suggested that all vet offices and shelters need to stock the book to help educate the mainstream public!

        Warm purrs from Deb Barnes of Makin’ Biscuits

    1. Agreed, if people are open to learning. Many people seem to believe they already know about a subject and make themselves “unavailable” to learning something outside their comfort zone. Animals have us beat hands down on the acceptance front, they do, and we often don’t. 🙁

  11. If people have feelings about something before involving themselves then they are operating on preconceived notions. It’s always best to spend time getting to understand something/someone you’ve never known before. When I was in college I took care of all sorts of animals, bringing them back from injuries. I had a skunk, raccoon, fox, bunny and a kitty. The ones that thrilled me the most and had the most in common: skunk and kitty! They were so sweet, playful and loving – and I didn’t think I was a ‘cat’ person prior to this and I certainly wasn’t a ‘skunk’ person!

    1. Unfortunately, way too many people are operating from a place of preconceived notions. Judging without having the facts. Makes me crazy! A skunk, eh? I love animals of all kinds, but would be a bit wary of the skunk, only because I wouldn’t want a spraying of the skunk funk.

  12. Many people who’ve told me they don’t like cats have used the term “allergies” to justify their dislike. I told someone recently that it wasn’t the cat’s fault he was allergic. I don’t think he liked my response.

    1. Good for you! I have a good friend who loves cats and would very much like to adopt one. He is severely allergic, though. He even thought about taking allergy meds so he could get a cat. He found a cat he really wanted to adopt, did a trial weekend, but the allergies were too much. Hoping that somehow he will find one that doesn’t leave him allergy miserable

  13. I think it is always a good idea to remind people that cats, like dogs, and people are individuals. Our cat is very mellow, doesn’t jump onto anything higher than the sofa. He is, however, very much against a bath or any large body of water. My mom’s cat was more aggressive than our cat, she was also a jumper and also enjoyed taking short baths.

    1. Yeah, the potty thing is an issue for cats or dogs. With cats, it’s the litter box, with dogs, it’s the potty bags or pads. They’re all gross, but it’s the price we pay for having our lives enriched by pets.

      Clingy isn’t a bad thing, not sure where that came from with the person that said it.

  14. It always hurts my heart to hear people talk negatively about cats – calling them aloof, jerks, etc, as you mentioned in your article. I don’t find those descriptions to be true at all, and I don’t see these characteristics in my cats at all. This is what inspired my blog series this month on the Love Languages of Cats. I hoped that by describing how loving and fun my cats are, that those who don’t see cats as loving animals would see otherwise. I agree with you, that it just comes from a lack of understanding or not meeting the “right” cat yet. I’ve also realized that many times the people who say they don’t like cats have never even had one or spent time around them. We have to work to change these negative stigmas!

    1. Yes, education and experience are the keys. Some time back, I think it was BuzzFeed that had a feature about non-cat people encountering cats for the first time. Their perceptions totally changed! Cat cafes could play a part in perceptions of cats. I haven’t been to a cat cafe yet, but can’t wait to experience one!

  15. Sadly new allergies (as in got them in my 30’s!) now prevents me from having cats. I use to have 4 and luckily my ex hubby was happy to take them… each had totally different personalities. Loved it. To be fair … I did have one that was aloof, aggressive and just a real jerk. For no reason. Loved him anyway.

  16. I have always had rescue cats until the last year and a half. Some have been a bit aloof, most very loyal, affectionate and demanding with me and quite playful. I have allergies to cats and my eyes and nose can go crazy so I have to be careful and wash my hands frequently and take precautions. I have other friends allergic and my cat Nala was always drawn to them and would bug them on the couch relentlessly. I am a big believer kids should be exposed to pets so we are starting Kids Pet Club online and live. This would be a fun game to play- asking them to describe dogs and cats and other pets.

  17. I once had to take a trip on short notice. The only person available to care for my cat didn’t “like them,” but said he would do it. When I came home, they were on the couch together and he was feeding him chicken by hand. People who say they don’t like them often just haven’t had the chance to be around one.

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