THE Scottish house cat shares "strikingly similar" personality traits with wild African lions, prompting suggestions that the domestic felines may be out to kill their owners.
Researchers at Edinburgh University found cats and their more predatory cousins are both characterised by the same three core traits of neuroticism, dominance and impulsiveness.
American psychologist Dr. Max Wachtel, one of those behind the research, described cats as "little, aggressive predators" who, despite their general demeanour, still have the capacity to attack without warning.
He told the BBC: "What's really scary is that sometimes they attack and have that killer instinct and other times they don't. 
"If you're standing among a pride of lions, sometimes you'll be fine and other times they will pounce and attack for no reason. And it's the same for little domestic house cats.
"They are sweet an affectionate and can curl up with you bed...but they can turn at any time."
Speaking with website 9news, he added: "It is good to understand the personality characteristics of our pets. Different cats have different personalities. But as a species, there are a lot of commonalities.
"We need to remember when we have cats as pets, we are inviting little predators into our house.
"For a lot of people, it is worth it. Cats can be fantastic, sweet companions. Until they turn on you."
The study was first published last year following collaborations between Edinburgh researchers and the Bronx Zoo in New York.
A total of 100 cats, from two different shelters in Scotland were used in the experiment, whilst the other animals were examined from zoos and animal sanctuaries in the UK and USA. 
They compared the personality structures of the domestic cat, Scottish wildcat, clouded leopard, snow leopard and African lion.
The research found that each species had "three factors of personality", the authors wrote, and "personality structure was strikingly similar" across the five species.
The domestic cat and African lion exhibited particular similarities, with both demonstrating neuroticism, dominance and impulsiveness.
However, not all of the researchers agreed with Dr Wachtel with Dr Marieke Gartner, telling that it was "a pretty far stretch" to suggest a cat actually wants to harm its owner.
She said: "Cats have different personalities, and they ended up living with us because it was a mutually beneficial situation.
"Some cats are more independent, some are quite loving. It just depends on the individual.
"It's not that cats are self-centred. It's that they are a more solitary or semi-solitary species."
She added: "Cats don't want to bump you off, but people often don't know how to treat them and then are surprised by their behaviour."