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Cuddly or killers? Here's why your cat may actually want you dead

As it turns out, cats are more similar to their wild African cousins than we previously thought.
/ Source: TODAY

As you look lovingly at your fluffy cat, is it gazing back and contemplating how to kill you?

Domestic house cats have similar personality traits to African lions, according to a joint study by the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and the Bronx Zoo in New York.

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Researchers compared domestic house cats to wild cats like African lions, Scottish wildcats, snow leopards and clouded leopards in the traits of extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness and neuroticism.

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The study found that the personality structure of domestic cats is "strikingly similar" to those wild cats and seemed related to findings in other studies of tigers and cheetahs.

As for their neuroticism, domestic cats have "the highest loadings on anxious, insecure, and tense, suspicious, and fearful of people,'' the study says.

They found that domestic cats share similar traits like neuroticism, dominance and impulsiveness with African lions.

To conduct the study, the researchers used 100 cats from two shelters in Scotland, ranging in age from one month to 19 years, as well as animals from zoos. It was published in the Journal of Comparative Psychology in November 2014.

But while domestic cats may share traits with several wild cats, including lions, the notion that they want to kill you is "a pretty far stretch,'' one of the study's researchers, Marieke Gartner, told CNET.

"Cats have different personalities, and they ended up living with us because it was a mutually beneficial situation,'' Gartner said.

"Some cats are more independent, some are quite loving. It just depends on the individual. It's not that cats are self-centered. It's that they are a more solitary or semisolitary species."

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.