I happened upon a Lifehacker story from a while back about how to make a cat like you. While the advice was pretty good, I thought the approach was lacking. The subheadings read, “Treat It Like a Wild Animal,” “Act Like a Cat Hater,” etc. So here are some real-life suggestions on how to get a cat to like you.
Keep in mind that these suggestions do not apply to me. I’ll get to those in a bit.
- Approach any cat, whether she’s a stranger or already a friend, with respect.
More than anything else, cats want to know they, and their personal space, is respected. You don’t want to be that annoying friend who’s always too handsy and grabby, do you? Then don’t be that way to a cat.
- Let the cat set the stage for your interactions.
This goes hand-in-hand (and paw-in-paw) with respect. Cats view humans as big, sometimes unpredictable creatures. You could totally hurt a cat without meaning to. (Of course, a cat could also hurt you without meaning to, but that doesn’t occur to most cats.) So let the cat approach you and check you out at her own speed. Let her decide if she wants to interact with you. If you smell like chicken, tuna, or catnip, that will probably make her more inclined to be friendly, but I doubt most humans will go that extra mile.
- Get on the cat’s level.
Like I said, you appear huge and potentially dangerous to a cat. When you get down on their level, on the floor, for example, you look a lot less threatening. At the very least, sit in a chair or sofa where the cat can jump on an armrest and check you out at her leisure.
- Hold out your hand, or a benign object that smells like you, for the cat to check out.
Most of you have probably seen Jackson Galaxy hold out his glasses for a cat to sniff. Smell is how cats suss out a situation or a new human, cat or other creature. Let them check out the hand or object being offered, and be completely passive about it. The cat may decide to rub against your hand and at that point will probably welcome a gentle scratch or rub. Just don’t be too aggressive about it.
- Use interactive toys.
This is especially good for younger cats, or older cats that are still playful. Use a wand or fishing pole-like toy. That keeps you a safe distance from a timid but playful cat. This is actually the way my human and Boodie got to know each other, when she was a semi-feral six-month-old kitten (Boodie, not my human) at the rescue where she was volunteering (my human, not Boodie). For a very long time, this was the only way Boodie would interact with humans without cringing and hissing.
Bonus tip: Food bribery.
If you have treats, or fresh chicken, or something else tasty, a cat will be way more likely to want to know you! Just make sure that when you’re doling out the treats to either hold them in the palm of your hand, or place them on the ground or in a bowl. Don’t hold the treat with your fingers, or they may get chomped. (My human holds treats with her fingers all the time, but don’t pay attention to her. I’m very gentle. Binga did chomp her a few times.)
If you want some more handy tips on getting cats to be your friend, this Mental Floss article has some great advice.
How to Make Me Like You
As you know, I’m not like other cats, so my rules are a little bit different. You can’t do these with other cats, but you can with me.
- Ditch the introductions, they will only confuse me. You can pet me right from the start.
- If I am lying in my enclosure, napping, go ahead and pet my belly. I will enjoy it lots.
- Let me give you a High Five. I get treats when I do, so I will instantly like you.
- Make a big deal out of me, like I’m the most amazing creature on earth. I really love this.
- Take photos of me. With a little help from my human, I will usually pose nicely for you.