The genetics of an individual cat plays a critical role in how sociable, playful, fearful, excitable, or domineering a kitten will become. The first issue in helping to ensure that a kitten will be friendly and social when it grows up, is to choose an appropriate kitten for your family. Since cats have a variety of personality types, the question is whether these personality types can be determined at the time of selection.
Kittens that are stimulated and handled from birth are more confident, more social, more exploratory, mature faster and are better able to handle stress as they develop. Therefore, kittens obtained from a breeder or home where they have had frequent contact and interaction with the owners are likely to be more social and less fearful as they develop.
Socialisation of cats to people is variable. The two most important factors appear to be the cat’s genetic personality, and the amount of socialisation it receives during the sensitive period of socialisation which is thought to be 3 – 7 or perhaps up to 9 weeks of age. Certainly, the greater exposure a kitten has to humans of all ages, other pets and novel situations, the better adjustment that kitten will have.
Depending on the personality and early experiences as a kitten, your cat may enjoy, accept, or dislike, certain types of handling from petting to bathing. In order for the cat to learn to accept and enjoy a variety of types of physical contact from humans, it is critical that the human hand only be associated with positive experiences and that all physical punishment is avoided.