Do you have a cat who routinely seems to head toward the one visitor in your home who doesn’t like cats? Does your cat try everything to get close to the one guest who is allergic to cats? Is it some kind of radar? Does your cat take pleasure in watching your guests cringe in fear at the approaching feline? You can relax because it’s not some kind of kitty conspiracy.
The reason your cat can zero in on the visitors who dislike cats or the ones who are highly allergic is that person, in almost all cases, makes absolutely no attempt to interact. There’s no direct eye contact and you can bet that visitor won’t reach down to pet or hold your cat.
How Your Cat Views Visitors
Cats are territorial and from their point of view, their home is their territory. When guests come over for a visit some cats view them with suspicion. After all, these visitors have an unfamiliar scent and they don’t move or sound at all like familiar family members. The cat lovers who visit your home may rush right over to the cat to greet him without paying attention to body language and signals that the cat is giving that clearly say “back off.” The guest who immediately approaches your cat doesn’t give him time to do any kind of scent investigation or make a determination about whether the approaching human is friend or foe. The cat haters or the people with cat allergies, however, will ignore the cat and this gives him all the freedom he needs to check them out at his own pace. Your cat actually feels less threatened because because he doesn’t have to worry about being approached or cornered.
A Better Approach When it Comes to Your Cat and Your House Guests
If you know your cat views guests with suspicion, then inform them beforehand not to initiate any interaction. Let your cat feel comfortable enough to approach in his own time to do a scent investigation. The guests shouldn’t look directly at the cat, talk to him or attempt to touch him.
After a few visits where your cat realizes he has the choice of whether to interact or not without the fear of being grabbed and held, he may start relaxing enough to approach more quickly. When that happens, inform your guests to merely reach out and extend an index finger for the kitty to sniff. This is the equivalent of nose-to-nose sniffing that cats do with each other. Nose-to-nose sniffing is a very polite greeting and, if after that initial greeting, one or both cats want further interaction they will move toward each other. So if your cat sniffs the guest’s index finger and decides he’d like to be petted, he’ll probably rub against the finger or move closer to the guest. If he doesn’t want further interaction, he’ll stay in place or move away. Just make sure your cat always has the choice of whether to socialize or not.
It’s also important that you respect your cat’s choice when it comes to amount of interaction. Don’t try to speed up the process or convince your cat that the guest is a friend by picking up the cat and bringing him closer. All that will accomplish is to convince the cat that MORE distance is needed and no one can be trusted in this situation.
Need More Information?
For more information on cat behavior and training, refer to any of the books by best-selling author Pam Johnson-Bennett, including the latest release, CatWise. Pam’s books are available at bookstores everywhere, your favorite online book retail site and also here on our website.
Please note that Pam is unable to answer questions posted in the comment section. If you have a question about your cat’s behavior, you can find information in the articles on our website as well as in Pam’s books. If you have a question regarding your cat’s health, please contact your veterinarian.