If you haven’t spent much time around cats, you may have the impression they’re aloof or unapproachable. Perhaps you’ve always considered yourself a “dog person” and find it hard to figure out why cats don’t respond in the same way as your favorite canine. Maybe this is your first cat and you’re trying to make friends but don’t quite know the correct approach. It’s really easy to start the bonding process with a cat but if you’re confused or need some advice, I have some important tips that can make a big difference in successful trust-building.
Allow the Cat to Make the First Move
It may have been your experience with dogs that you could go right up to them and begin petting and interacting. With cats, however, that’s not the recommended approach. In fact, cat lovers who enthusiastically go right up to an unfamiliar cat and try to immediately touch or interact often end up getting an unwanted response.
Have you ever noticed how often the person who doesn’t even like cats or is allergic to them is the one who gets approached by the cat? The reason is simple. The cats picks up on the body language of that person and sees he has the freedom to come closer to do a scent investigation without the threat of getting handled. Scent is an important means of communication and when the cat has the freedom and ability to do that, it helps him feel more at ease. When it comes to approaching the cat, my advice is to not do it. Let the cat come toward you. Let him do his scent investigation undisturbed.
It’s Impolite to Stare at the Cat
In the animal world, a direct stare can be interpreted as a threat. Avoid staring, and instead, if you do look at the cat, make your glances soft and brief.
The Cat Version of a Handshake
Cats who are familiar and friendly to each other will often approach and engage in some nose-to-nose sniffing. You can do a version of this by extending your index finger for the cat to sniff. This becomes the human version of a cat nose. Hold your finger out without wiggling it or pushing it toward the cat. Just keep your finger still and let the cat make the decision about whether to step forward and sniff. If he does sniff your finger, he’ll let you know whether more interaction is ok or not. He may sniff and back away, which means he doesn’t want to engage at this point or he may rub against your finger or walk closer toward you. This is an indication that he’s open for more interaction. Pay attention to his body language because it’ll tell you whether he’s cool with things or needs a little more time to assess the situation.