We have this fantasy of an affectionate, friendly and gentle lap cat. If only all cats could be like that — we wish! But hold your horses — a cat’s personality can be influenced by several things.

Health

A healthy cat is a happy cat. If a cat’s personality suddenly changes, it is best to rule out any underlying health issues. We want the cat to have clear eyes with no tearing or discharge, a clean nose with no nasal discharge or sneezing, clean ears with no odor, no wounds or scratch marks that indicate ear mites, pink gums with no mouth sores or offensive odor, a clean anal area with no matted fur, and last but not the least, a soft, clean coat with no dandruff, bald spots, or evidence of parasites.

Relationships among cats with different coat colors work when their temperaments match. Calico cat France actually loves King. (Gia Lara)

It’s important for our cat companions to have a good appetite. Having a cat spayed or neutered is also scientifically proven to lessen aggression and to lead to better health. We all know how a cat in heat can meow to infinity or spray pee all over the furniture!

Cats’ sex lives are not in any way pleasurable and do not “make their life complete”. It is fairly easy for them to overpopulate in such a short span of time if they aren’t neutered. It is far from ideal and will only increase the cost of care and maintenance, not to mention put their health at stake.

Color

Cats come in various shades and it may be fun to characterize them, albeit just as a first impression, based on their color.

They say cats with white and black or gray fur are playful yet quite strict with their preferences. White cats are usually timid and follow their human companions around. Black cats are independent but also thrive in the companionship of humans and other cats.

Calicos are generally playful and thrive playing with cat toys. (Gia Lara)

Calicos and tortoiseshell cats are assertive and playful, with a hint of feisty attitude when triggered. Ginger or orange cats are calm and smart. Grey and brown tabby cats seem to emulate their ancestors in the wild with their hunting skills.

While there may be some truth to these generalizations, one must remember to take them with a grain of salt as they do not accurately predict a cat’s overall personality. Every cat is unique and the one who shares your home may surprise you! Besides, we don’t want to be seen as people who judge others based on (fur) color, do we? All is fair in loving cats.

Environment

Is the home clean? Are there ample resources, such as nutritious food, clean water, and freshly cleaned litter boxes?

Cats thrive when they do not have to compete for resources. Does the home provide entertainment and many places to lounge in? Install shelves and provide secure access for them to view the outside world through screened windows. Provide scratchers, boxes, and toys to suit their fancy.

Are there many strangers coming in and out of the place? We want to minimize stressors for your cat, which is why we should secure their territory from unwanted visitors.

No two cats are the same. Mark and Earl, both being ginger-white cats, have a few similarities and many differences. Cats with the same color do not necessarily get along. (Gia Lara)

What is the overall mood of the home? Feng Shui or KonMari for your home is not an absolute requirement, but if it will add to the happiness of the human, it will also affect the vibe of the home and the happiness of the cat.

Is there a new cat in the household? With any change, we want to be gradual, so a slow introduction between the cats is favorable. We also want any new cat to be quarantined for at least two weeks so that no diseases are transferred. It’s also best for a veterinarian to give us the go signal before we initiate interaction between the newcomer and the resident felines.

History

If the cats are exposed to kind humans at an early age, then they are likely to be friendly and easygoing. If the cat was once a stray or rescued from difficult conditions, then the cat may be on the anxious and territorial side.

No, just no. Come on, it’s the 21st century. Black cats don’t bring bad luck. (Gia Lara)

One may also find that some rescued cats are more affectionate they are rehabilitated and fostered with love. We may not have enough information about strays, but nurturing them with patience eventually results in a sweet, well-rounded personality. People who choose to adopt cats with special needs can bring out the best in them, especially with extensive research and a good relationship with a trusted veterinarian.

Pedigree does not always determine personality, although some assumptions may be true. Cats coming from a kitten mill may also have challenging behavior patterns.

Quality time

I believe quality time is the most important thing we can give our animal companions. If we have more than one cat, it is best to spend alone-time with each one – they become more open when they have 100 percent of your attention.

Spending quality time with a cat also gives us the opportunity to observe them and get to know what they like. It really does take time for a cat to adjust and show their true nature.

It’s just the angle, don’t worry. Although there is such a thing as tortie-tude, with some tortoiseshell cats being feisty when provoked, they can be the sweetest cats who will watch trashy reality shows with you. (Gia Lara)

Let’s allow cats the chance to get to know us as well. As human companions, we are a resource of love, affection, and attention. Even if they do not seem to show it, our cats need our presence, even when we’re just sitting or napping together, binge-watching on Netflix, or doing our most elaborate self-care rituals with them around.

Expectation versus Reality

Cats are mysterious creatures and that is exactly why we feel enamored by them. Their personalities are why hilarious internet memes exist! Honor a cat’s uniqueness and let them express themselves their own way. They have their own brand of love and it is up to us to explore and understand that.

Really, there is no perfect cat. My cat CC – who, for me, is the most angelic cat one can ever have – knocks my things off happily to the floor whenever she’s bored. My black-and-white cat Creamo scratches and bites me if I touch her white spots, which make up 80 percent of her body; however, I can tell she loves me by the way she stretches her body around me. My orange cat, whom I creatively named Orange, tolerates unlimited hugs, while fellow orange cat Bunny bites or paws my face if I even try.Having 15 cats with different personalities makes our home interesting and real! Meanwhile, my cats are judging me as to whether or not I am a perfect human. (I’m not.) See you in my next article.

This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s May issue.