Carry Some Treats with You
If the cat is reluctant to come toward you, gently toss a treat nearby to help him associate your presence with good things. Sometimes, bribery is a good thing. You can also offer a treat for any positive interaction with you, no matter how slight.
Pet in a Cat-Friendly Way
When dealing with an unfamiliar cat, stick to only petting briefly and watch how he reacts to see if he asks for more. Although each cat is an individual and can have specific petting preferences, it’s usually a good idea to stick to the top or back of the head, along the cheeks or under the chin. Some cats like long strokes down the back but for others, it can be too stimulating. When you don’t yet know a cat’s preference, stick to brief petting around the head and then watch the reaction. It’s always better to leave the cat wanting more affection rather than push him beyond his tolerance level.
Use Your Voice Carefully
You may have gotten an over-the-top positive reaction by doing a high-pitched squealing tone or talking in a baby voice to a dog but that doesn’t fly with the felines. Keep your voice soft and reassuring.
Play with the Cat
Cats were born to move. They’re predators with incredible stealth and accuracy. A good number of the behavior problems seen in indoor cats are due to boredom and lack of activity. If you’ve spent most of your time around dogs, you know the need for regular playtime, walking and exercise, but cats need regular activity as well.
Being indoors is the safest place for cats but that also means it’s up to the cat parent to ensure there’s adequate stimulation, activity and fun. As predators, cats have a natural need to stalk and pounce. You’re a big part of ensuring successful playtime with a cat. It’s not just about leaving a pile of toys available or tossing a toy at the cat in order for him to fetch. Playtime is about discovery, strategy, precision and success. For cats that means stalk, pounce, capture, reward. Playtime is just as much mental activity as it is physical activity. When you engage in a play session by using an interactive toy, you get to move the toy like prey so the cat can focus on being a hunter. Interactive playtime is also a wonderful way to strengthen the bond and in the case of a cat you’re trying to get to know, it can help him associate positive experiences with your presence.