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Tips On Improving The Relationship With Your Cats: Part One

Are you having relationship problems with your cat? Does he run away from you when you are about to hug or pet him for no apparent reason? It maybe your approach to interacting with your cat.

We all have a need for personal space. the amount we need reflects who we are socially. Not many of us would be comfortable with a great lumbering beast suddenly intruding into our space, picking us up, hugging us or ruffling our hair so hard it shakes our teeth.

Cats are very much the same in this regard. Unfortunately, this is how many well meaning humans approach them.

 Cats don’t like people or other animals rushing at them, it’s very intimidating.

Immediately petting or picking up cats without the correct approach may upset them, sometimes activating fight or flight. Anxiety and fear can also build up.

Not this again.

Even those very gregarious felines who don’t seem to mind being scooped up would appreciate be “asked” first. All cats want interactions involving them to be on their terms.

It’s bad manners to handle a cat without “asking” first. Receiving permission then interacting with your cat on his level gains trust more effectively, paving the way for a deep bond between you.

How to “ask” permission to approach your cat:

  1. Make sure you are calm and relaxed.
  2. Get down on the floor to their level. For most cats this is less intimidating.
  3. Slowly and smoothly, extend your hand a little toward your cat at nose level. You may extend a finger. I like to use a half fist. Any advancement by him signals a positive interest in you. Backing away signals lack of interest, anxiety or outright fear. Respect his decision.
  4. Hold your hand still to allow him to smell it. Don’t proceed until he has finished. Communication for cats is primarily thru smell.
    Alright, some respect.
  5. At this point he may rub your hand with his head {sign of affection}, rub your hand with the side of his body {mixes your scent with his}, do nothing, retreat or perform something unexpected. Giving your cat the choice whether or not to interact with you will reduce his stress and improve your relationship. Some out going cats, and others on occasion, will skip the smelling and go straight to rubbing. Go with the situation he presents.
  6. If he does rub your hand with his head, pet it but watch to make sure he is comfortable. Cats sometimes suddenly change their minds. Some  only like to be petted for a short time so be ready for any change in his mood. If he has offered you his body to pet the same applies. Watch for any sensitive areas. Be careful around the base of his tail where it connects to his body. Some cats like to be petted there {be careful of petting this area too long} others don’t. The belly area is very tricky. An exposed belly is a defensive fighting position, be careful. Some cats love a belly rub, others like it for a short amount of time {they may attack or flee when they have had enough}, while many cats’ underside should be left alone.
  7. Don’t pet him with too much force. Start lightly and slowly increase the pressure. If you cat dips down and/or walks away, he is not interested. Always avoid the sudden and aggressive petting as children are apt to do.

Communicating vocally is not as important to a cat as it is to humans. Some cats  prefer to have quiet while being approached. That said, many cats have learn to get their needs from humans using cute sounds.

Never stare at a cat as this is a very threatening gesture. If you eyes meet, blink very slowly then look away. This conveys to your cat, your intentions are friendly.

I’m not afraid after all.

Remember, gauge how your cat likes to be petted, where and how long.

Most prefer attention on their head. Many cats are very enthusiastic about being petted but then “suddenly” don’t want contact. If this occurs, stop all interaction then observe what he does.

Always “ask” permission, you never know when your cat is busy with something you can’t comprehend. Make sure you pay attention to what your doing while interacting with your cat and his response to it. Put your devices away.

Asking” permission shows respect which is the foundation of a lasting friendship.

As a cat sitter in Toronto, I use this technique among many others to form and maintain bonds with my clients’ cats while lowering their stress levels.

Please see Tips On Improving the Relationship With Your Cat: Part Two

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.


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