Currently in a relationship with someone of the feline persuasion
People get some pretty misguided notions about pets. For example, many people
think that training a dog involves "showing the dog who's boss." The reality is
an effective trainer gives the dog respect and receives respect in return.
With cats, there's this myth that cats are aloof. The reality is they are
actually very social and they enjoy affection. However, cats need you to earn
their trust before they will feel comfortable around you. Earning the trust of a
cat is much easier than many people think. Some people just cannot do this. I
have a tendency to do this within minutes of meeting a cat. Why the difference?
The first thing you must do is relax. If you do not routinely go into an
inner calm place, you need to work on that. This is the first barrier, and many
people never cross it. Their anxiety comes across loud and clear to the animal.
Most cats are very verbal, and they expect you to be verbal too. Speak
softly, but in an animated tone. And, yes, "baby talk" is perfectly fine (just
don't overdo it). So when I meet a cat, I get down close to the cat's level. In
doing this, I make myself smaller to appear less threatening. But the main thing
I accomplish is I am showing the cat that s/he is the "person" who is presently
the focus of my whole world. And I am happy to see you, kitty.
By the way, this also works very well with humans. Make eye contact (kneel
down to talk with children), and give that person your full attention. If you've
had problems making friends, this will just about solve that problem. People
feel flattered and respected when they get someone's full attention and the
attention giver appears to be enjoying the exchange.
If you talk with the cat for a few minutes, you'll start building a bond.
That's talk "with," not "at." The cat has to feel you are paying attention when
it's your turn to listen.
It all boils down to respect. Be aware of how you interact with the cat, and
ask yourself if you are being respectful.
And, of course, you need that calmness. What if you've had a bad day? Your
cat will be able to tell something isn't right. Use that to your advantage. If
you really want to bond with your cat, tell the cat in your soft "cat voice"
that you had a rough day. If you can stay calm for just a little bit, the cat
should feel inclined to rub up against you and ask to be petted. Petting a cat
is relaxing, and so now you can just get all that stress out of your system and
have a happy cat when you're done.
Once the cat is your pal, how do you communicate?
Cats do learn certain words, just as dogs do. So keep your language simple.
If you want to ask a cat to do something, use the cat's name and a noun/verb
request. For example, "Fluffy eat." or "Fluffy go cage." Make sure your body
language and deliberate gestures agree with your words. If you stay consistent
(words mean the same thing every time), that will also help.
When the cat wants to talk to you, stop whatever you are doing (if possible)
and pay attention. If it's not possible at the moment, acknowledge the cat's
presence and promise to catch up later. Then give the cat some undivided
attention. You will have a buddy for life.
Some tips on cat care
- Cats need love and affection, just as dogs do. But, you need to let the cat come to you.
- Cats need their space. Let certain areas be off-limits to you except for cleaning and
maintenance. An space that provides privacy and some darkness will do.
- Cats like it when you talk to directly to them--use animated tones but keep your volume
- Do not "crank it up." A loud stereo causes incredible stress in cats.
- If your cat has a behavior problem, work with your
veterinarian to overcome it. Using the wrong methods will only make the cat resent you and behave
- If you pick your cat up (such as when going for a walk and encountering a dog), support
the cat's weight under the butt. Never pick a cat up by the arm pits or the belly--think
of how you would want your weight supported if lifted up. Then make a little more
allowance for the cat. Don't ever pick a cat up by front or rear limbs.
- If the cat "chirps" at you and walks away, that is a sign that you are to
follow. Act inquisitive, and mimic the cat's sounds. This lets the cat know you are
interested in what s/he has to say.
- Cats love to "help" make the bed. However, rather than get cat dander over
freshly-laundered sheets, let the cat "help" you make the bed the morning before
you wash the sheets. At other times, shut the door and let the cat in when you are done.
- Learn how best to stroke your particular cat by practicing various light strokes around
the ears, chin, sides, back, and other places while gaging the cat's reaction.
- Don't feed your cat table scraps. To give your cat variety, you can use "people
food." But, use small amounts of such food as an occasional treat. Tuna mixed
with yogurt and chopped vegetables (broccoli works well) will give your cat a nutritious,
Follow these tips, and you'll have your cat purring all the time. Be considerate and
thoughtful, respecting your cat's need for privacy and sense of control.
The result is your cat will follow you everywhere, even the shower, just to be with you.