Cats are often thought of as independent creatures that are not particularly interested in humans. However, cats can be affectionate and even bonded to their owners if given the chance. Building trust with a cat may take some time, but it is definitely possible with a little patience and understanding. This is a skill that all cat lovers can benefit from, whether you’re an old hand at cat ownership looking to become a registered breeder or just enjoy the company of cats.
Here are some good general principles for making friends with a cat:
Give them time and space
When you first bring a new cat home, give them a few days to adjust to their new surroundings. Let them explore at their own pace and don’t try to force any interactions.
The same goes for meeting someone else’s cat. While other animals such as dogs may be okay with immediately jumping into a play session on your first meeting, cats like to take it slow and see what you’re like before they engage. Be gentle and avoid sudden movements or loud noises which could startle them. Let them sniff you and get used to your scent before trying to pet them.
It takes time to earn a cat’s trust. Don’t give up if they seem uninterested at first. Just keep offering them gentle affection without being pushy, and eventually they’ll come around.
Offer them treats
Cats love treats! Use this to your advantage by offering them something delicious when they come near you. This will help create a positive association with you in their mind.
Play with them
Cats are natural hunters and they love to play games that involve stalking and pouncing. Take some time each day to play with your cat using a toy or laser pointer. This will help burn off excess energy and bond with you at the same time.
Remember not to use your hands or feet as toys – this can lead to biting or scratching when it isn’t playtime. Cats also have a limit to how much play they are willing to engage in before they get overstimulated. Most cat owners already know of this phenomenon, when their cat seems perfectly happy to play with them then will suddenly turn and hiss then run off. This happens because the cat knows that they’re getting overly excited and wants to cool off first.
Respect their personal space
Cats are very independent creatures and they need their own space. Don’t try to pick them up or hold them against their will. Instead, let them approach you on their own terms.
It’s a good idea not to try to pick the cat up or pet it when it’s eating or using the litter box, two situations when the cat is naturally defensive and on the lookout for threats. An easy way to know when the cat is receptive to being handled is by understanding their body language, which leads us to our next tip, which is a big one.
Read the cat’s body language
Cats communicate through body language, so it’s important to learn how to read it. For example, a relaxed tail means the cat is comfortable, while an upright tail with twitching at the tip usually indicates excitement or agitation. Paying attention to these subtle cues will help you better understand a cat’s needs and feelings.
A tail held high is a sign of confidence and contentment. The cat feels safe and secure in her surroundings. A tail that is held low indicates insecurity or fear. The cat may be feeling threatened or anxious. When the tail is held to the side: This is a friendly greeting. When a cat greets you with their tail held to the side, they are saying “I’m happy to see you!”
Another thing to look at is your cat’s ears. If they are pointed forward and upright, it usually means that they are interested in something or someone. However, if their ears are flattened back against their head, it generally signifies that they are feeling scared or threatened.
In addition to looking at your cat’s tail and ears, you should also pay attention to their eyes and facial expressions. For example, a cat who is looking directly at you with wide eyes is likely trying to show you that they trust you and feel comfortable around you. On the other hand, a cat who averts their gaze or has narrowed eyes may be feeling suspicious or mistrustful.
Finally, it’s also important to take into account your cat’s overall body posture when trying to interpret their body language. A relaxed and confident cat will often have an upright stance with their head held high, while a nervous or submissive cat may crouch down low to the ground with their head lowered.
By taking all of these factors into consideration, you should be able to get a pretty good idea of what the cat is trying to tell you through their body language.
By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to gaining a cat’s trust in no time!