How to Befriend a Cat
If you’ve adopted an adult cat, are seeking to befriend an unfamiliar kitty, or you’re hoping to get your friend’s or significant other’s cat to like you, the process is the same. Go slow, get on the cat’s level, and provide positive attention. Here’s the basic process:
- Approach slowly. Cats are wary of change and new people. They’ve developed trust in known places, people, and routines. When something out of the ordinary happens, they use caution to be sure it’s safe and to ensure their resources aren’t being threatened.. Move slowly. Sit still. Avoid sudden noises or erratic movements. A sneeze could send them scattering.
- Come down to meet them. Squat down to get closer to the cat’s level. Don’t make extended eye contact as this is typically viewed as a challenge. Slowly put out one arm, with your finger pointed toward them. See if the kitty approaches. You are less threatening this way and your body language shows that you are interested in interaction. Don’t put your finger in the cat’s face or wiggle it around. Let the cat be in control of whether to interact. Here’s a tip from Pam Johnson-Bennett, Certified Cat Behavior Consultant and best-selling author: “Extending your finger is a non-threatening initial greeting. It mimics nose-to-nose sniffing that two cats with friendly intentions would do when approaching each other. When extending your finger, if the cat doesn’t come closer or sniffs and backs away, then she’s saying no further interaction is desired. If the cat comes closer and rubs against you, then she’s communicating she’s comfortable engaging.”
- Allow them to rub against you. Kitties who are warming up to you will rub against your feet or shoes, ankles or legs, or your outstretched hand. They are sharing scent with you and it’s a sign that your efforts to befriend are working!
If you get a boop with their nose, a head butt, a rub of the cheek, or sitting down near you with a part of their body touching you, then you’re well on your way to forming a bond with the cat. Purrs are another good sign in most cases, but Johnson-Bennett points out that cats who are nervous or trying to calm a potential opponent may also purr as a soothing mechanism. A happy purr will be accompanied by a relaxed body posture. Try some of these other suggestions below to continue the bonding process!