One of my habits since I started getting adult rescue kitties is to try to figure out as much as I can about their past from their behavior. Athena, for example, was originally a stray--she had the bolting-food-tendency common to strays--but was very well socialized before she got to me, so at some point she was obviously a well-loved house cat as well. Granted that she never tries to bolt, my guess is that she was raised indoors, well socialized, and then got lost at a young age, then was picked up again at around nine months, which is when I got her.
Ben is an enigma. He was obviously VERY well socialized, he loves people, but he has a hint of wariness to him--if a hand approaches, it must be sniffed, even if it's mine. Otherwise you're asking for a smack. He also hates to be picked up, although he'll just about tolerate it from me. I suspect someone was very very nice to him, followed by someone being fairly mean to him. He was not neutered until he was full grown, which is why he's a bloody giant, and he has severe abandonment anxiety, so my guess is that he had a human he loved very much, he got separated from her in some fashion, and was then treated less than well and eventually stalked off to become a stray. However, when someone at the shelter found him and put him in her car to take him in, he apparently began hugging her. Initially somewhat aggressive when I brought him home--but affectionate when he wanted to be--he became a total snugglebutt when he finally realized I wasn't going to leave him, and pretty much attached himself to me at the hip, and freaks out if I leave for a prolonged period.
Angus is a purrer. He purrs at all times. He does headbutts and wants rubbings, but doesn't want to be snuggled or picked up. I suspect it's almost an appeasement purr. He gets startled if I'm standing, and retreats, but immediately returns if I bend over (the height difference really seems to bother him for some reason.) He will lay down with me, cautiously, sometimes. What I know about him is that he was born to a feral mother in Apex fourteen months ago, was neutered at the age of 3 months, and then was recently brought in to the shelter--the guess from the staff is that the somebody who got him fixed was probably trying to place him for the past year or so, and couldn't.
I'm guessing that once Angus gets more comfortable with the surroundings and with me as the bringer of food, he'll become more amicable to snuggling and so forth, but it's interesting to watch. His coping mechanism is the opposite of Ben's--Ben, if he doesn't trust the surroundings, is ready to kick its ass if it doesn't show proper respect, while Angus wants to appease it and show it how friendly he is.
I suspect there will be no question as to who is the alpha cat.