You are, no doubt, well-versed in your cat’s individual personality. In fact, you probably know your cat better than anyone else in the world. Both of my cats live the lives of queens; they’re showered every day in pets, cuddles, treats, playtime, and love.
Still, one of them is outgoing and generous in her affection while the other is skittish and cautious with her affection. I’ve often wondered what factors helped determine their personalities long before I met them. It turns out that a cat’s personality is influenced by a handful of factors.
#1 – Breed Linking your cat’s personality to her breed can be fairly easy if she came from a breeder, but it can be trickier if you adopted her from a shelter or found her as a stray, since many cats these days are “mutts.” Your cat may have dominant traits from a distinctive breed, though, which may affect her personality. Not sure whether your cat has the type of personality normally associated with her breed? Check out the Cat Fanciers’ Association’s list of Breed Characteristics and Personalities.
#2 – Early socialization to humans and other animals
It’s critical that kittens be exposed to humans and other animals before they are four months old to avoid becoming feral. Kittens who learn to trust humans and other animals from a young age are much more likely to be outgoing, affectionate, easygoing, and brave in an active household.
#3 – Face shape Kit Jenkins, the program director for PetSmart Charities, believes we can learn a lot about a cat’s personality by the shape of her face. That’s because hormones influence your cat’s bone structure and also affect her personality. Read more about this theory here: Is Your Cat’s Personality Determined By The Shape Of Her Face? You May Be Surprised!
#4 – Experience
Just like you, your cat’s temperament and personality will be largely influenced by her life experiences. A cat who has spent a large part of her life fending for herself on the streets may inherently be a bit more territorial and anxious than a cat who has always been cozy and well fed.
#5 – Genetics and parental involvement
It probably comes as no surprise that a kitten’s mother would have a big impact on her developing personality. Most kittens stay with their mothers and littermates until they’re old enough to be weened, and they learn a lot about the world– and how to interact with it– in that time. If mama cat is skittish around humans, her kittens will be too.
What many people don’t realize is that there’s a large paternal influence on kittens too, even if the father isn’t around to help raise the kittens. Researchers have found that the papa cat’s personality traits imprint on the kittens before they’re even born.
Whether the kittens are developing their personalities by interacting with their parents or by a roll of the genetic dice, their parents clearly play a big role.