How to bond with your cat


Bonding with your cat or kitten sets up years of companionship and love. Begin befriending by showing trust and safety, then progress to bonding through continued affection, communication and positive interactions. Before long, you’ll be experiencing the wonderful love of your feline friend.


couple bonding with cat

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.”
  3. 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!


How to Get Your Cat to Love You

As a cat lover, you know the idea that cats don’t bond with their owners, don’t show affection, or are aloof and cold is nonsense. Plenty of animal behaviorists, veterinarians, and cat parents know that cats form strong bonds with their families, including humans and other pets. They simply express their love and affection using cat language, which isn’t always easily understood. There are many signs that your cat loves you and is happy, you just have to know how to read them.

Like people, cats have love languages, and every cat has their own preferences. Getting to know your cat and forming a relationship with them is a lifelong process, and as with humans, their needs and desires can change over time. Depending on your cat’s love languages and preferences, one or more of the following are ways to develop trust and affection and be on your way toward getting your cat to love you.

  1. Playtime. Just about all cats love to play and will love you all the more for fun times with dangle toys, wand toys, and small solo toys. Being a source of fun and curiosity will help you bond with your cat.
  2. Closeness. Some cats love to nap near you or on you as a sign of affection. Cats are expert nappers, and enjoy sunny spots, soft blankets, and feeling nestled and safe. If you’re trying to get a cat to love you, sit still and leave room nearby. Put a cat bed or a soft blanket close to you. Kitty might come investigate and may settle down for a nap. Some cats like to nap right on your lap, legs, or your shoulders. Others like to be near, but not right on top of you. They will show their love by resting their chin or paw on you or snuggling up close next to you. Offer multiple napping options throughout the home so your cat always has the choice of how much closeness is wanted. For a cat who doesn’t want to be too physically close to you, the option to be in a comfy bed near you but just out of reach will add to the trust-building process and increase the bond. Next time, instead of staying beyond reach, you may find your cat trusts you enough to curl up right next to you or even on your lap,” Johnson-Bennett advises.
  3. Feed me! Giving animals food and water is a sure-fire way to associate yourself with positive outcomes and increase bonding. “Stick to good quality cat food and don’t offer table scraps. If using treats, limit the amount so you don’t interfere with proper nutrition. You don’t want to risk developing an overweight cat so don’t overfeed in your attempt to bond,” adds Johnson-Bennett.  
  4. Communicate. Talk to your kitty! This helps them stay connected with you. Speaking to kitty in low, soft, friendly tones while going about your business will help her get used to your voice. If kitty meows or chirps, answer them! They’re seeking to communicate with you and will often carry on back and forth. Experts say that cats don’t meow so much in the wild and believe this is adaptive behavior kitties do to get along with their humans and to express needs and desires because we tend to respond to vocal cues.
  5. Scritches. If you’ve graduated to the point where kitty wants to be touched, giving pets and scritches under the chin, along the cheek, on the head or back is another good way to bond with your cat. Just as with humans, some kitties enjoy touch more than others. Two zones to avoid are the base of the tail and the belly. Johnson-Bennett suggests paying close attention to each cat’s petting preferences so you’ll quickly learn the right spots to touch and the ones to stay away from. That will go a long way in helping your cat look forward to being close to you.
  6. Clean Litter Box. It may go without saying, but this basic level of care goes a long way with your cat. You’re attending to their needs, and that shows love. They’ll give it back to you, many fold. “Don’t underestimate the importance of an appealing and clean litter box when it comes to your cat’s health and happiness,” Johnson-Bennett points out.



How to Bond with Your Kitten

Little girl bonding with kitten

By virtue of an abundance of curiosity, non-stop desire to play, and still being young, it’s typically easy to bond with a kitten. The basic principles of going slow, getting on their level, and being quiet and positive still apply.

Some kittens may be quite skittish if they have never been around humans. Their instinct will likely be to hide during this first stage of socialization. Start your kitten off in a small, safe space, such as a room you can close off. Provide food, water, a litter box that’s easy for the kitten to get in and out of, soft things to sleep on, and toys. An open cat carrier lined with a soft towel or a semi-covered cat bed will give your new kitten a cozy place to hide and feel safe.

To begin the befriending and bonding process, enter the room and sit inside, preferably on the floor at their level. If the kitten isn’t comfortable enough to interact yet, read a book, scroll Instagram, or listen to a podcast with headphones. Wait. The kitten’s curiosity will begin to take hold, and when she sees that you’re being still and non-threatening, she will begin to peek out and tentatively come over.

Let your kitten approach. Try sticking out your hand with the index finger pointed ahead. If kitty comes over to boop, you’re well on your way. Don’t make loud noises or sudden movements. Slow, calm, and safe is the way to go.

”If the kitten seems interested in engaging with you but wants to still keep a distance, gently use an interactive fishing-pole type toy or wand toy. This will allow the kitten to stay at a safe distance and still enjoy playtime. The extra benefit is that the kitten will be starting to associate you with this fun experience. In time, you’ll notice the kitten let will her guard down more quickly and jump right into the game,” says Johnson-Bennett.

Some kittens enjoy being held and being near your heart. Picking up your kitten and holding them to help them feel safe and loved is a big part of bonding. ”If your kitten isn’t used to being held, start off holding for a short time and then put her down before she starts to squirm. Do this several times a day to help her feel more comfortable about the process. It’s important to be able to pick up your cat for various reasons when she’s an adult so the time to start building that comfort level is now,” advises Johnson-Bennett.      

With kittens, you can do things like carefully turn them over on their backs, stroke their tummies and toe beans, and other areas that adult cats may not tolerate. Johnson-Bennett advises gently touching the ears and around the mouth as well to get kittens comfortable with all types of handling that needs to be done throughout a cat’s life for purposes of grooming, medicating, transporting and examining. As your kitten learns to trust, your bond becomes closer.

Johnson-Bennett also recommends getting a soft brush to gently introduce your kitten to being brushed. Many kittens enjoy the feeling and starting early enough will help her acceptance of it as an adult. “Done gently, grooming can become a wonderful time of closeness and bonding,” she adds.


Litter Box Maintenance with ARM & HAMMER™

Try these cat-approved ARM & HAMMER™ cat litters to help keep your kitty happy, healthy and to show them your love.

For additional tips and tricks to create a safe and enjoyable environment for you and your kitties, check out these articles:

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