10 Scientific Ways To Get a Cat To Like You
If you’re like most pet owners, then you would probably agree that cats can be a bit hard to understand. Try as we might, we just can’t seem to get into their little heads and figure out what they’re thinking.
Well, I have good news…
Cats are not nearly as mysterious as you think.
In fact, if you know what to do, it’s pretty simple to figure them out and get them to respond to you.
And if you rely on science it becomes even easier.
Here are 10 scientific ways to build a better bond with your cat.
- 1. Let them be in charge:
I know it’s hard to resist approaching a snuggly little fur ball, but according to two Swiss studies, it’s much better to allow them to make the first move.In a study done in Switzerland, researchers studied 51 homes with cats. What they found was that when humans simply waited to interact with a cat, the cat was more likely to approach and less likely to withdraw when people engaged them.1
In a separate study, researchers found that when you allow a cat to initiate the interaction and to decide on their own when it’s over, the interaction tends to last longer.2
What’s this all mean?
If you want a cat to approach you and you want to interact with them, play hard to get. It works every time.
- 2. Approach a cat the way they would approach another cat
When cat’s approach each other they typically greet each other nose to nose. You can approach them in the same way by using a fingertip to gently touch their nose. To make it less threatening, don’t stay there too long, simply bend down, extend your finger and allow them to make contact. Most cats will approach, and sniff your finger if they like you they may even rub against it.3
- 3. Pet a cat where they are most receptive
Cats respond to physical touch, in fact, they are very sensitive to it. But there are some areas they’d much rather be touched. In an older study published in 2002, cats responded more favorably to being pet on the forehead and the cheeks. They reacted negatively when their tails were pet. A more recent study validated the findings and involved more cats. 4.5
- 4. Back off if the cat responds negatively
It’s usually pretty easy to tell if a cat doesn’t like what you’re doing. Their responses can range from full-on hissing and biting to more subtle actions like flattening their ears, looking at your hand or swishing their tails in an irritated manner.
When you see them do any of these things, it’s best to back off.
This is probably one of the biggest red flags when it comes to bonding with a cat. If you know when to back off, the cat will typically give you another opportunity.
- 5. Don’t feed them too much
We live in a society where food is considered a reward for good behavior and a way to express our love. But a recent study at Cornell University showed that when it comes to cats this simply isn’t true.6
The researchers put 58 obese cats on a diet and then had the owner track their behavior. Seventy-five percent of the owners reported that their cats were more affectionate, purred more and sat in their owner's laps more often. However, the new behavior also came with more begging and meowing. By week eight, both the good and bad behaviors were no longer present for approximately 50% of the cats.
So, whether a dieting cat is a more affectionate cat or not, it’s better to have a healthier, slimmer cat.
This lowers their risk of health problems like diabetes and joint pain.
- 6. Play with them a lot
For most cats, bad behavior is more a product of boredom than anything else. Most people know the importance of walking their dog, but they give little thought to making sure their cat gets plenty of exercise. The fact of the matter is that cats are predators by nature and the predatory behavior is instinctual, so suppressing that instinct may result in bad behavior and fewer chances to bond.
In one study, researchers found that cats prefer human interaction over food. However, when they looked closer they found that what really made the cats choose the human over the food was the presence of an interactive toy. One of their preferred toys is a wand-style toy with feathers, string or other prey-like attachments.7 Playing with your cat daily with this type of toy is a great way to forge your bond and it helps keep them healthy.
- 7. Keep your cat safely indoors
Keeping your cat indoors appears to help them get more into “sync” with your schedule according to an Italian study.8 Researchers found that cats kept inside, with the exception of accessing a small garden each day were more active during the day when their owners were active and less active at night.
- 8. Socialize your cat when they’re young
Several studies have shown that if cats are socialized by being handled by a human in a positive way for even just a few minutes each day grow up to be much friendlier and trusting.
The ideal age to socialize kittens is when they're between 2 and 9 weeks old. One study performed in the UK found that shelter kittens who were given a lot of “enhanced socialization” including additional attention, affection, and play were much more affectionate with their new owners and less fearful than other cats from the same shelter.9
If you’re looking for a way to help kittens become more “adoptable” then volunteering at a shelter or fostering kittens is a great way to help them adjust to human interaction. It’s also a great way to help more kitten find homes.
- 9. Take into consideration your personality when adopting
If you are considering adopting a new cat, especially if it's older you may want to visit them a few times at the shelter first. Older cats typically have already developed certain personality traits and it may be easier adopting a cat that has a personality that meshes with yours.
By visiting multiple times, you’ll also see a different side of your potential cat. Because the more they get to know you the more they’ll open up. In addition, don’t make snap decisions based on their looks alone. In one study, researchers asked 189 people to assign personality traits to cats based only on their fur color. At the end of the study, the volunteers were wrong more often than they were right.10
- 10. Carefully watch your cat’s behavior
The best way to bond with a cat is to simply be an observer. Sit back and see how your actions and reactions affect your cat. Watch how their behavior changes based on how you respond to them. Sometimes it’s the subtle responses that mean the most. A simple eye-blink can indicate contentment, while a swishing tail may mean irritation. Whatever it is, learn to “read” your cat.
There you have it, scientifically proven ways to bond with a cat.
By using these science-backed methods along with a little common sense, you’ll soon have any at eating out of the palm of your hand.