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Cat Hospital of Chicago Blog

10 Simple Ways to Bond With Your Cat

Posted by admin in Feline Behavior on Monday, October 17th, 2016.

Cats can be wonderful companions but sometimes things don’t work out exactly the way you thought they would. Maybe your new cat would rather rest on the chair at the other end of the room than lie down on the sofa next to you. Or perhaps your cat has even hissed at or scratched you when you tried to pick them up. Often, when people don’t live happily with their cats, it’s because the pet owners didn’t establish a good bond when they first brought the kitty home.

Bonding creates a personal relationship between you and your pet. This includes mutual respect, trust and love. You are a special person to your cat, and your cat should be special to you. It’s easiest to bond with a new kitten, but even if your cat is an adult and you’ve had them for several months or even years, it’s still possible to strengthen the bond you if you are willing to work at it.

Here are 10 suggestions for building a solid bond with your feline friend:

Include your cat in your daily activities. Invite your cat to be with you while you clean house, watch television, sort through the mail, work at the computer or read the newspaper. The more activities your cat observes you doing, the more he will trust you in all situations.

Talk often to your cat.Verbal communication is one of the most important aspects of bonding. Don’t feel silly sitting down and talking to your cat. They may not understand the words you use, but they can understand a warm, friendly tone of voice. Use your cat’s name often. This will grab their attention and establish a personal relationship between the two of you.

Get to know your cat’s individual personality. Every cat is different; some are shy and independent, while others are outgoing and crave attention. Adapt your lifestyle to the particular personality of your cat. Try different behaviors on your cat and see what fits. If you want your cat to be affectionate, you have to determine what you can do to make them act that way.

Provide a consistent daily routine. Cats don’t like surprises. They feel safe and secure with a routine. Establish an acceptable daily schedule with your cat early in the relationship. Let them know how often and when to expect meals, walks on the leash and play sessions. You also should be consistent with the behaviors you allow and don’t allow. Don’t yell “no” when they jump on the counter today and let it slide tomorrow. If you are inconsistent in how you interact with your cat, you will confuse them and create a lack of trust.

Give a new cat plenty of privacy. When you bring a new cat into your home, you should give them a room of their own for two to four weeks. Sit in the room for an hour a day, reading or just relaxing, but don’t force the cat to interact with you. Make yourself available, but let your cat be the one to make the first move. If your cat starts walking toward you, put some catnip or other treat around your chair. This encourages the cat to move toward you. Never reach out to grab a frightened cat nor drag a cat out from under a chair. It’s important that you respect your cat’s fears and inhibitions. Remind yourself that they are in a new environment. Go especially slow with an older, adopted cat who may have been a stray. Give your cat time to see you’re not a threat and eventually they will develop a relationship with you.

Avoid harsh corrections. If your cat misbehaves, do not hit, holler or punish. You can say “no,” but do so only to stop unacceptable behavior. Don’t yell or scream. You can use a squirt bottle or air horn to stop your cat from scratching your furniture or drapes, but be careful not to link yourself with the correction. Hide the squirt bottle as you spray. You want your cat to think the drapes have a life of their own, that the drapes did the squirting. If the cat thinks you did it, it may be harder to foster a strong bond.

Provide frequent play and exercise. Play with your cat several times each day using tossed toys, fishing pole toys, rolled balls or other interactive cat toys. By playing with your cat, you build a bond because the cat is thinking, ‘when mom or dad is home, I have more fun.’ This causes the cat to welcome you that much more. Avoid tug-of-war and other games that encourage aggressive behavior. Resist the temptation to roll your cat onto their back and rub his or her tummy. When you do that, you encourage the cat to use their claws and teeth on your hands. It seems like that’s a lot of fun, but cats get overexcited and can become quite aggressive as a result.

Touch with affection. Show your cat you care – stroke their fur, pat his head, scratch behind his ears, even gently squeeze his paws. Physical contact is a wonderful way to make your cat feel loved. However, avoid quick, jerky movements that might startle him.

Hold your cat securely. Pick up your cat firmly, but gently, supporting their entire body. If you let their limbs dangle, your cat will resist and may struggle or bite you. Hold your cat by sliding your right hand between his front legs and around his upper body. Put your left hand under his rear end and around the outside of his body, pulling him into you so he feels secure. You want your cat to trust you; not as though you’re going to drop them.

Give your cat time. Some people buy a cat and want a best friend immediately. Bonding is not automatic. It may take a couple of weeks to bond with a kitten and several months to bond with an older cat. Go slowly and don’t expect too much too fast.

You will have both good and bad days with your cat. Like people, now and then cats get grumpy, be patient and understanding. Treat your cat as a good friend and sooner than later, they be one.

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