Join Date: May 2008
Location: St. Albert, AB, Canada
Cats are creatures of habit, and, unless exposed to visitors regularly and frequently, the sort of change of routine visitors bring can be stressful for them. I think it depends largely on the attitude of the cat.
As an example, here's how my four cats react to 'strangers':
Jitzu, wants to see them, sniff them, and acts like she wants to be petted...but has had enough of them in about 30 seconds. Not a fan of most people, she has favorites who come over fairly often she seems to 'like'...but I still have to watch her carefully for signs of stress. More than 1 guest for over 2 hours makes her a very grumpy kitty.
Torri is NOT a fan of guests. If we have more than 2 people over she tends to want to go to her room, and even with only one guest she just wants to watch from afar. She has let a few specific people pet her once or twice, but that's after a lot of work on my part.
Doran likes to see who's at the door, get petted once or twice, then that's it...unless they sit on the couch in which case he's right up in their faces. Literally. Head-bumps, purrs, happy paws, the whole nine yards.
Muffin loves everyone. As long as you can pet him you're his best friend. He gives hugs (reaches up to pat your hip), rolls around on the floor in kitty-ecstasy, purrs up a storm, marches around with paws so happy he sometimes falls over, and generally looks like a love-crazy maniac. It's adorable.
Because Muffin is so extremely happy to have guests over I can always redirect a guest who's focused on Jitzu or Torri by handing them Muffin and saying "Here, pet the red one." Works every time.
IME Torri and Doran have the most 'average' cat reactions to people. Standoffish, sometimes affectionate, but on their own time...not a fan of strangers or fast motion, or loud things.
Jitzu and Muffin IME are on the opposite ends of the spectrum. If Jitzu gets overwhelmed she starts scratching people...Muffin is a very odd cat who loves everyone. No discrimination.
...Actually if anything he likes guests better than me and my SO because he thinks they'll let him get away with things, and he hasn't been petted by them before.