Interacting with a cat is like trying to close a business deal. You do your research, pitch the offer, set expectations, and deal with any objections along the way. If all goes well, you’ve got yourself a new business partner. If not, you shrug your shoulders and hope the next one works out.
Cats take boundaries seriously, so it’s important to honor them when approaching one. Here’s how to do it.
The 10 Great Tips to Approach a Cat
1. Get on the Cat’s Level
Some cats will run up to any stranger, but most need a little give and take on our end. You can break the ice by matching the height of the cat. That could mean:
- Crouching down on the ground
- Sitting in a chair near the cat
- Standing near a cat tree.
In any case, you’ll be less intimidating and more inviting. Getting on the cat’s level will show the cat you’re willing to submit.
2. Provide Personal Space
Cats need personal space with strangers. Otherwise, they’ll feel cornered and become aggressive. However, personal space allows cats to run if they need to hide. Space gives them peace of mind without feeling cornered.
3. Move Slowly
Fast movement is a quick way to scare a cat. Why? Because the situation can get out of control with rapid movement, at least from the cat’s perspective. Walking bit by bit, sitting slowly, and gently offering your hand gives the cat time to think about its next move.
4. Use Soft Language and Tongue Clicks
A soft-spoken voice is calming for a kitty, so your words alert a cat that you’re kind. Cats eventually learn your voice and approach you when they hear you in the room.
5. Don’t Stare Intensely
Would you approach a stranger staring deep into your soul? Probably not. Cats are creeped out about it, too. Instead of staring intensely into the cat’s eyes, slowly blink as if you’re saying, “I love you.” The cat will know what you mean!
6. Let the Cat Sniff Your Hand
Present your hand to the cat slowly, as if your hand was an animal’s nose. Allow the cat to sniff your hand for however long it wants. Some people have had better success when their palms face down instead of facing up. Either way is acceptable, as long as you don’t pet the cat.
7. Body Pets Are Invitation-Only
Petting a cat is like getting into an exclusive club- it’s an invitation-only event. Still, many people mistakenly pet a cat too soon after letting the cat sniff their hands. This offends the cat, ruining the interaction. You must follow cat interaction rules to make a good first impression.
- Let the cat sniff your hand and wait for a head butt.
- You’re free to scratch the head if the cat willingly rubs her face against your hand.
- If you don’t receive a head butt, the deal is off. No touching!
- Never pick the cat up.
- Never touch the forbidden belly.
8. Watch the Cat’s Body Language
Cats are hard to read because their facial expressions aren’t obvious like dogs. Cats are better at communicating through other body languages, like the tail and full body movements.
You’ll have a better relationship with cats overall if you can identify the difference between negative and positive cat reactions.
- Positive: Head butting, tall tail, rolling on the ground, slow blinks
- Negative: Biting, scratching, growling, ears laid back, running away, back turned toward you, rapid tail movement, short grooming sessions
9. Listen to the Owner
It seems like common sense, but it’s worth repeating: listen to the owner. The owner knows the cat better than you, so take any advice when getting to know a new furry face.
10. Reintroduce Yourself
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a beautiful relationship with an animal. It’s true that some cats are social butterflies and will love everyone. Even so, it’s safe to assume that most cats won’t be your best friend immediately.
Reintroduce yourself by following all of the tips we just mentioned. You’ll be best friends in no time. Or at least good acquaintances!
There’s an art to befriending a cat, so don’t take it personally if a cat doesn’t like you right away. Even friendly felines like some space when getting to know their new best friends. The best thing you can do is honor the boundaries set before you. Wouldn’t you want the same when meeting someone new?
Featured Image Credit: Rodrigo Munoz Sanchez, Shutterstock
- The 10 Great Tips to Approach a Cat