Cats are often portrayed as aloof, independent creatures who seem to only care about themselves. This has led some people to wonder – are cats narcissistic?
While cats may seem self-absorbed at times, the truth is more complicated.
Here’s a look at the evidence surrounding cat narcissism.
What is Narcissism?
First, let’s define what narcissism actually means. Narcissism is characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, a lack of empathy, and a need for admiration. Narcissists tend to have an excessive interest in themselves and often try to manipulate situations or people for their own benefit. They may also react negatively when criticized and lack consideration for other people’s feelings.
Some key traits of narcissism include:
- Grandiose sense of self-importance
- Preoccupation with fantasies of success, power, beauty, etc.
- The belief they are special and unique
- Sense of entitlement
- Exploitative behavior
- Lack of empathy
- Envy of others
- Arrogant behaviors
So in asking if cats are narcissistic, we’re really examining if they exhibit these types of behaviors and personality traits.
Are Cats Narcissistic?
No, cats are not really narcissistic. Some of their behaviors may seem like they are full of themselves. But most of the time cats act that way because of their natural instincts, not because they are self-obsessed.
Cats groom a lot to stay clean and healthy. Their independence comes from being hunters who like to do their own thing. Cats want attention because they are smart and social. They are not just thinking about themselves all the time.
Once in a while, you may find a cat who seems like it is acting entitled or manipulative. But that is very rare. Most cats are able to create close bonds and do not have true narcissistic personalities. They show affection in their own subtle cat ways.
See also: Can Cats Eat Kiwi?
Do Cats Show Signs of Narcissism?
At first glance, some cat behaviors may seem narcissistic. For example, cats spend a large portion of their day grooming and caring for their own needs. They can also be choosy about interactions on their own terms.
But when looked at more closely, much of this behavior can be explained by natural feline instincts and needs.
Grooming and Cleanliness
Cats spend 30-50% of their day grooming themselves. At first, this may seem like vanity. But grooming serves important physical and psychological purposes for cats. It helps:
- Remove dirt and distribute skin oils evenly
- Remove loose hair
- Check for parasites or skin irritations
- Soothe themselves
- Relieve stress or anxiety
So while grooming maintains their appearance, it’s also important for health and comfort. It’s an instinctual behavior, not necessarily a vain one.
Cats are infamously independent creatures. They seem to want affection and attention on their own terms. This may come across as entitlement or indifference to their owner’s needs.
But cats are not pack animals like dogs. So they don’t have the same innate drive to please or closely bond with their owners. Their independence is simply part of their natural instincts and should not be taken as a personal slight.
Many cats seem aloof – they do not crave constant companionship and are selective about interactions. But cats bond closely with their families in their own way. Some signs a cat is bonded include:
- Purring and kneading when petted
- Grooming their owners
- Rubbing against legs or furniture
- Curling up beside or on their favorite person
- Showing trust by exposing their belly
- Coming when called
- Sitting nearby watching activities
So while not as demonstrative as dogs, cats do display affection for their families. Their seeming indifference may come down to personality rather than vanity or dismissiveness.
Might Some Cats Actually be Narcissistic?
While most common cat behaviors can be attributed to natural instincts, in rare cases, a cat may actually show traits of a narcissistic personality.
Signs that a cat could be truly narcissistic include:
- Aggression when they don’t get their way
- Excessive attention-seeking behaviors
- Lack of empathy for other animals/people
- Using charm and cuteness to manipulate
- Pretending to be injured to get attention
- Always needing to be the center of attention
If a cat exhibits these types of entitled, manipulative behaviors rather than just aloofness or independence, it could reflect a narcissistic personality. But this would be very uncommon in cats.
Causes of Narcissism in Cats
True narcissism is very uncommon in cats. But some cats can show entitled, self-important behaviors that resemble human narcissism. What causes these rare narcissistic tendencies?
Usually, there is some kind of underlying issue driving the behavior. Possible causes include:
- Lack of socialization – Cats that don’t interact with other animals when young may not develop empathy.
- Insecurity – Narcissism might be covering up low self-esteem and uncertainty.
- Attention needs – A cat acting out could just be desperate for love and attention.
- Past neglect/abuse – A cat that was neglected may become distrustful and selfish.
- Learned behaviors – Sometimes, owners might unintentionally reinforce narcissistic behaviors.
- Medical issue – In rare cases, a medical problem could cause personality changes.
The most common cause is that the cat was never properly socialized to understand normal feline social behaviors. But insecurity, inadequate care, and other factors could also contribute.
Figuring out the root cause of any narcissistic tendencies is key to changing the behavior. With proper training and care, most cats can overcome their issues and learn to socialize normally.
Dealing with a Narcissistic Cat
Here are some tips for dealing with the rare narcissistic cat:
- Don’t give them attention when they act out. This rewards bad behavior.
- Keep their schedule consistent for feedings and playtime. This prevents anxiety.
- Give them toys and perches to play on independently. This provides an outlet.
- Pet and play with them on your terms, not just when they demand it. This prevents entitlement.
- Do not accept aggressive behaviors like biting or scratching people. Redirect them or get help from an expert if needed.
- Consider working with a cat behavior specialist to uncover the root cause and develop targeted training.
- Build up their confidence through praise, training, and showing them off to guests. This can reduce insecure behaviors.
The main goal is to get to the source of the problem, not just treat the symptoms. Living with a narcissistic cat can be hard, but making adjustments to their care and training can improve their disposition.
In most cases, narcissistic behaviors are not ingrained – they can be overcome with time and patience.
Preventing Narcissistic Behavior in Cats
Here are some tips on preventing narcissistic behaviors in cats:
- Socialize kittens early and often. Introduce them to new people, animals, places, and experiences. This builds empathy and relationships.
- Give your cat plenty of affection and attention. Ignore negative attention-seeking, but give them love at other times. This prevents acting out.
- Provide stable routines with consistent feeding, playtime, and grooming. Cats thrive on predictability and routine.
- Have realistic expectations. Understand normal cat behaviors, so you don’t mistake ordinary actions for narcissism.
- Give them outlets like toys, cat trees, and scratching posts. This prevents boredom and anxiety from lack of activity.
- Use positive reinforcement in training. Reward good behaviors, and ignore bad ones. Don’t unintentionally encourage narcissism.
- Address medical issues promptly. Rarely a health problem could cause personality changes.
- Be patient and consistent. Personality problems usually develop over time and take time to resolve.
With proper socialization, routine, training, and care from kittenhood, most cats develop healthy and affectionate personalities, not narcissistic ones. Nipping any problems in the bud is key to raising a well-adjusted, loving feline.
While our cats may sometimes seem aloof, vain, or demanding, true narcissism requires self-awareness, ego, and complex emotions that felines do not possess. Before putting Kitty on the therapist’s couch, remember it’s just a cat being a cat! With time, care, and training, you can help curb excessive attention-seeking behaviors and allow your cat’s natural independence and confidence to shine through without the negative traits of human narcissism.
1: Do cats recognize themselves in mirrors?
A: No, cats do not have enough self-awareness to be able to recognize themselves in mirrors. A cat’s reaction to its own reflection is based on instinct, not an understanding that it is seeing itself. This lack of self-recognition suggests cats cannot be egotistical or narcissistic.
2: Why does my cat stare at himself in the mirror?
A: When a cat stares at its reflection, it relies on instincts to process what is seen as another cat. The cat may exhibit territorial behaviors or be curious/confused by the mirror “cat” mimicking its movements. A cat staring in a mirror is not necessarily admiring itself due to narcissism or vanity.
3: Why does my cat always want to be petted or get attention?
A: Cats demanding frequent petting and attention are not necessarily being narcissistic. This behavior stems from natural feline instincts to seek comfort, warmth, and bonding from pet parents. Giving proper affection and playtime can fulfill your cat’s needs.
4: Is my spoiled cat a narcissist?
A: Cats can develop entitled behaviors if owners reinforce the wrong behaviors. But spoiled behaviors alone don’t equal narcissism in cats. Narcissism requires self-awareness, ego, and complex emotions that cats lack. With proper training and care, spoiled behaviors can be curbed.