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Old 12-20-2006, 09:01 AM
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Can you assess a cat's personality while it is a kitten?

A friend of mine is looking to adopt a kitten. Of course she wants a sweet, affectionate cat but we have both had experiences where a sweet, nice kitten grows in to be an unfriendly brat that has little to do with anyone. On the flip side we have also both had wonderful cats that were very friendly.

With puppies you can perform a temperament test that helps give you a clue as to what the adult dog may be like. Is there any such test for cats?

I realize that such a test is only a glimpse at the predilections of the animal and that environment and upbringing play a large role in the final personality (catality?) of the animal. Nevertheless any help in finding the sweet, adorable desired rather than one that hides under the bed and growls at you would be welcome.

Also, any ideas on how to properly socialize a kitten to grow into an affectionate pet would be welcome. I had two cats simultaneously once...one grew to be a complete evil brat and the other was affectionate and docile. Same household and for all I can remember essentially the same upbringing yet one goes nutso and the other is nice. Not sure if there is anything I could do to ensure a happier family for all.
Old 12-20-2006, 09:14 AM
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I'm not sure that cats have personalities, only varying degrees of neuroses. They do seem to respond to lots of affection and exercise, though, much like dogs. Discipline, however, is hopeless and best not attempted.
Old 12-20-2006, 09:26 AM
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It's a crapshoot.

Our evil cat is also our more affectionate cat. You just never know as he's nuzzling under your chin and purring when he's going to switch alters and start swatting and hissing and go bang on a wall with his hind foot. (And no, he's not in pain, he's been vetted*.) Our other cat (dumb as a box of rocks) is neither aggressive or terribly affectionate.

The best thing to do is lots of attention and pettin's for socialization and keep the critter active as she grows.

Of course, you could dodge the whole issue by getting a grown cat, but even they sometimes change personality when they change households.

Sometimes, I think that 90% of a cat's personality is projection anyway. And I say that as a cat lover and lifelong cat owner.




*This may be my favorite pun ever. I'm inordinately pleased with myself right now!
Old 12-20-2006, 10:11 AM
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A cats personality changes drastically after about 1 year. Kittens thrive on affection and seek it out. As a cat reaches 1 year it naturally becomes more independant. It may want to spend all of its time outside to claim or defends its territory. All cats are different though. The more affection you give them as a kitten the better.
Old 12-20-2006, 10:51 AM
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Both my cats' personalities remained the same from kittenhood to adulthood. One of them was the runt of the litter, and very skittish as a kitten. She spent the first several days at my apartment hiding behind my dresser, and every night for almost a year would suckle on her sister. As an adult, she's still quite skittish and submissive, and still occasionally suckles on her sister.

Her sister, on the other hand, set out to exploring as soon as I got her into my apartment. Her personality has remained like it was when she was a kitten -- bossy, bitchy, and dominant.

An example of their personalities in action: I clip their front claws. When I'm doing the first cat's, I can just pick her up and put her in my lap, and she will whine a bit but sit there and let me clip all the claws at once. When doing the second cat's, I have to catch her unawares and hold her still under my arm, and only do a few claws at a time, and she will growl and hiss, fight to get free, and swat at me when I release her, or go attack her sister in a display of redirected aggression.
Old 12-20-2006, 11:19 AM
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My highly unscientific test has always been to choose the kitten that is the most affectionate, purringest critter onhand. Tends to result in getting an animal that is comfortable and relaxed around people, likes to be sociable. Obviously there's a ton of raising to do once you take the animal home but this seems to start things off on the right foot (paw).
Old 12-20-2006, 11:54 AM
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if it does "Woof. woof" it is fine. If it does "meow" get another one.
Old 12-20-2006, 12:27 PM
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It's hard to say. My parents have a cat that was a very nervous kitten, was not affectionate, would hiss and spit if picked up, and generally was a beast (we called her Hellspawn as a nickname). She had serious pee-issues if there was the tiniest change in routine or if hassled, but per the vet, there was nothing wrong with her.

Then, the other cat died (a tom that treated her rather aloofly, and didn't seem to hassle her at all), and she became a little bit better, and got better over time. Now, she is the most affectionate cat you can probably imagine. It's impossible to sit down without her in your lap and she constantly follows my parents around the house all day. When they are gone, she curls up on (or in) their bed, preferably in a warm spot they have left, only to get up when people come home. She's still not thrilled about being picked up, but she tolerates it (mewing a little sometimes).

You just can't tell with cats.
Old 12-20-2006, 12:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by solkoe
A cats personality changes drastically after about 1 year. Kittens thrive on affection and seek it out. As a cat reaches 1 year it naturally becomes more independant. It may want to spend all of its time outside to claim or defends its territory. All cats are different though. The more affection you give them as a kitten the better.
One data point: a friend kept 3 kittens from a litter (all brothers), and we had fun
teasing them with the old mice on strings trick all day long, and they all got into it
and were very affectionate. Two of them ended up very adjusted, but the third (who
got nicknamed "Tim", for timid), would just hide underneath the bed most of the day.
Old 12-20-2006, 01:15 PM
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Years ago, I made an appointment to pick up a kitten, I wanted to see the last male in the litter. I go to the house and while I was talking in the living room, this little ball of orange fur with the biggest ears ever, came running into the room, did a lap at full speed, leapt up about mid-calf onto my leg, climbed me like a tree and settled on my shoulder.

Ernie grew up to be the Best Cat Ever, and remained just as friendly and in your face until the day he died.

Last fall, I went to the vet to look at the Cat that Would Be Cuervo the nice vet's assistant-lady gave him to me to hold. Granted, he was a pretty sick, and premature fella, but he snuggled into my chest while I held him and tried to purr. He still does that.

On the other hand, when I picked out Evil, Fat Scarlett from the no-kill shelter 6 years ago, she was cuddly and playful for months. Sometime about the time she turned 2-3, she became Evil and Fat. Very, very territorial that one is.

Now, Marty has always been the somewhat playful one that tolerates whatever new friends come his way or indignities he must endure for the sake of a good picture.
Old 12-20-2006, 04:01 PM
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I've had many cats over the years, and every single one of them has been wonderful and affectionate. One of them, a Maine coon, had been in an abusive home the first 2.5 years of his life. At first, he'd hide under the bed or in the closet most of the time. If he was lying somewhere and I got anywhere near him, he'd run and hide. But gradually, over the next couple of years, he became more socialized, and was eventually the most affectionate cat I've ever had.

The one thing I notice about some kittens is their intelligence. I've had two kittens that exhibited far more curiousity about non-cat-related things than most kittens. They both turned out to be very intelligent throughout their lives. With one of them, you'd see her stop in her tracks and stare at something, trying to (and succeeding in) figure it out, and you could almost see the little cogs working in her brain.
Old 12-20-2006, 09:13 PM
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The only thing that really changed with our cats is some of them stopped being cuddlers when they grew up-Maggie was always jumping up in my lap and she used to cuddle with me when I slept when she was a baby. Then she gradually became more independent. Although she NEVER liked being held, even as a baby.

BUT, she's still pretty much the same, personality-wise. One thing that's nice is she no longer wakes me up by poking me in the face with her claws. The first time she did that, I was dreaming I was being stung in the face by bees. I opened my eyes to see her leaning over me, jabbing me in the cheeks!
Old 12-20-2006, 09:39 PM
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What Valgard said. Both of our girls were affectionate and outgoing when we saw them at the rescue society. We touched them often as kittens, lavishing affection upon the spoiled little beasts. Today they are friendly, outgoing little fuzzbutts without a neurosis between them.
Old 12-21-2006, 12:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by solkoe
A cats personality changes drastically after about 1 year. Kittens thrive on affection and seek it out. As a cat reaches 1 year it naturally becomes more independant. It may want to spend all of its time outside to claim or defends its territory. All cats are different though. The more affection you give them as a kitten the better.
The fuzzy black land shark who lives in my house was a standoffish kitten. He'd sleep at the end of the bed with you, but if you tried to reach down and give him skritches, he was gone. He'd curl up on the couch, just out of arm's length; same deal. Over several years, he gradually, very gradually, inched closer. Then he started to sleep with one leg stretched out and resting gently against you. Then, a bit closer, the leg would drape across you a bit.

He is now, at eight, a devoted lap cat. In bed at night, he basically spoons against my tummy. If I lie on the floor, he will curl up on and go to sleep on my chest.

So, seconded: Every cat is different.
Old 12-21-2006, 11:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cervaise
The fuzzy black land shark who lives in my house was a standoffish kitten. He'd sleep at the end of the bed with you, but if you tried to reach down and give him skritches, he was gone. He'd curl up on the couch, just out of arm's length; same deal. Over several years, he gradually, very gradually, inched closer. Then he started to sleep with one leg stretched out and resting gently against you. Then, a bit closer, the leg would drape across you a bit.

He is now, at eight, a devoted lap cat. In bed at night, he basically spoons against my tummy. If I lie on the floor, he will curl up on and go to sleep on my chest.

So, seconded: Every cat is different.
I have enjoyed all the responses. I fancied myself a bit of a cat expert but have realized that I know nothing. All of my cats have changed drastically at about 1 year of age always becoming less affectionated but I am happy to see that many cats change for the better and some stay affectionate their whole lives.
Old 12-22-2006, 01:24 AM
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Cats, if they are to be good pets, must be played with when they are young. I went to the Humane Society shelter to look for a furry pal. Out of a line of cages, some cowered in the corner, some came out to meet me, and one climbed up into the crook of my arm and purred. I went back with Mrs. Nott, and she got the same response. We took him home. The HumSoc has a deal with a local vet to do neutering for free, which we would have done anyway. We had to sign an agreement to get him neutered when he was old enough.

Freckles is the best cat I have ever had. He's very affectionate, fit, a good mouser, and a feisty playfriend for his sister, an adopted Lhasa Apso dog. They are about the same size, and even though Freckles could kick Layla's ass around the block, they play gently.
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Old 12-22-2006, 10:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AskNott
Cats, if they are to be good pets, must be played with when they are young.
Yes, but remember not to use your body parts as playthings. If you 'play wrestle' with a kitten with your hand, kittie will grow up thinking 'hand - pounce and kill'. Which may be cute when kittie weighs a few ounces...
Old 12-22-2006, 10:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quiddity Glomfuster
Yes, but remember not to use your body parts as playthings. If you 'play wrestle' with a kitten with your hand, kittie will grow up thinking 'hand - pounce and kill'. Which may be cute when kittie weighs a few ounces...

It's not the weight that matters-it's the claws. Fortunately, kittens claws are sharper than an adult cat's, so they're not QUITE as bad when they get older.

(I think I've told this before, but the first time Maggie slept in my room, I woke up that morning from a nightmare about being stung in the face by a swarm of bees. I open my eyes to see her poking me in the face.)
Old 12-22-2006, 10:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefguy
I'm not sure that cats have personalities, only varying degrees of neuroses. They do seem to respond to lots of affection and exercise, though, much like dogs. Discipline, however, is hopeless and best not attempted.
Gee, Chefguy, at least you could link us to some recipes.
Old 12-22-2006, 10:54 PM
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Probaly had a tramatic kittenhood.

A dedicated lover of cats
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