Cats are typically thought of as being incredibly independent animals, but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy being around people and receiving love and affection. Many cat-owners often feel like their cats don’t like them, but there are a few things you can do to foster a better relationship between you and your cat. Our veterinarian expert Brian Bourquin suggests learning a little bit about cat behavior first so that you can understand why cats do certain things, like staring at you or biting your fingers. Learning about cats will help you to act properly around them. In addition, you should also provide proper care and attention to keep your kitty happy and healthy. By doing all of these things, your cat will begin to return the love that you show it.
1. Prepare a Safe Haven for the Kitten
For the first few days, the kitten may be too overwhelmed to get out of his carrier. You shouldn’t force him to come out, but don’t leave him alone either. Gently coax him, and eventually, he will come out. At that point, you’ll want to make sure that you’ve prepared a more permanent safe haven for him.
- Ideally, it will be a pet bed with a soft mattress and a washable cover, so that your furry friend will always have a nice, clean bed.
- Remember that the kitten is used to snuggling up to his mom for warmth and comfort. A good idea would be to place a nice, cuddly blanket in the bed for him to snuggle into and keep warm.
- You can also put some soft, cuddly toys in the bed for him. Make very sure that the toys don’t have any parts that the kitten can pull off, chew, and swallow.
2. Let the Cat Approach You
Cats can be irresistibly adorable. But as much as you may want to greet Snowball with a big ol’ hug, don’t. “This is a common mistake for people who love cats,” Brian says. “They’ll go up to the cat and corner the cat, try to pet the cat, and try to win over the cat.” In this situation, she explains, your advances will either be ignored or cause the cat to bolt.
Instead of making a beeline for the cat, encourage the feline to come towards you, says Brian. “Crouch down or sit, and then extend your index finger towards the cat,” she explains.
The next thing to do, Brian adds, is to let the cat sniff you. “Either lay your hand on the floor, outstretched so that she doesn’t have to come too close,” she suggests. From there, you can begin to pet or scratch the cat’s head – but take it slow. “Make friends at the pace of the cat,” Brian says, “if she walks away, let her go.” The key is to let the cat set the tone of the interaction, and to give her space to relax.
3. Socialize with Him
Your furry bundle will be forming first impressions about people, with you as his role model. Your treatment of him will affect his opinions of people for the rest of his life—that’s why it’s so important for you to make a good first impression.
You don’t want to have your new kitten grow up to be a wild, aloof stranger who hardly knows you exist and shuns the company of people. This happens when a cat isn’t properly socialized. Getting him used to you, to other people, and to other pets will help foster a balanced, easygoing cat that loves being petted by his human family and who loves giving his devotion and loyalty in exchange.
When you bring your newly-adopted kitten home for the first time, speak to him gently in a calm, soothing, and non-threatening tone. The tone of your voice and your firm but gentle movements will convey a particular message to your cat. You want to be sure that the message the kitten receives is that you’re gentle, kind, loving, and patient. Carefully convey that you’re his friend and protector.
4.Observe the Cat’s Likes and Dislikes
Just like people, cats have vastly different personalities and preferences. If you’re meeting a friend or significant other’s cat, you can ask questions; if you’re adopting a new cat, you’ll have to take the time to observe the cat’s behaviors and get a feel for what she enjoys.
“Even a shy but curious cat has the potential to become your next best friend if you take things slow and build trust,” Brian says. You can ingratiate yourself by finding out what that particular cat likes. “If the cat likes to be brushed, then you can brush the cat,” Brian suggests, “whatever it is, then that’s what you can do to encourage the cat to come forward.”
Brian offers a tip for simple petting: “Most cats enjoy being rubbed on the forehead, around the ears, neck, and cheeks,” she says, “so stick to these areas with a new cat.”
5.Keep Calm and Stay Positive
If you’re a “dog person,” you may be used to interacting with pets in a jumpy, excited manner. But according to our experts, that kind of behavior tends to send cats running. Don’t make any sudden movements, gestures, or sounds, says Brian. “The more predictable you can be in your actions, the more trusting the kitty will be of you,” she says.
In addition to staying cool as a cucumber, Brian advises engaging in behaviors that cats can associate with positive results. Brian recommends giving the cat food or a treat in greeting and making a habit of using the cat’s name. “Make everything positive, so everything good happens around you,” she says.
6.Don’t Stare At Him
This can be jolly hard as he is such a fascinating, entertaining, cute bundle of fun. However, remember that in the wild, predators stare unblinkingly at their prey. Staring at your kitten will make him feel uncomfortable, and it can also trigger uncertainty as well as fear.
If you want to interact closely with your kitten, blink your eyes often and turn your head away from him from time to time to put him at ease. If you’re potty training him, don’t stare at him while he does his business—even if you want to make sure that he’s doing it right. Give him some privacy, and praise him if he gets it right.
7.Supervise Young Children
If you’ve got young children in the house, supervise their over-eagerness with your tiny kitten. Constant handling of the kitten and endless boisterous games could over-heat and exhaust your little bundle of fur.
You’re his guardian, and you need to be looking out for his well-being. At the age of 8 weeks or so, a kitten needs plenty of rest, and the children need to allow the kitten to sleep uninterrupted.
8.Use Treats Strategically
This one’s pretty straightforward—give a cat a tasty morsel, and she’ll be more likely to warm up. However, this doesn’t mean showering the cat with treats all day long. Brian recommends using cat treats strategically “to either reward good social interactions with you, or to entice a shyer cat to move towards you and get to know you better.”
Keep in mind that not all cats have the same tastes—if you want to build a lasting friendship, it’s best to do your research. “Some cats are not very food-motivated so you might have to search for a treat that they like,” Brian explains. To start, she suggests “plain cooked chicken breast, a little nugget of stinky cheese, or tuna flakes.”
9.Look Out For His Well-Being
This step involved bringing your new kitten to the vet—if you haven’t already—so you can ensure that he is in good health. Your new feline friend won’t like this, so if possible, we suggest saving this for later—when the kitten has relaxed and settled into his new home considerably, to avoid stressing him out. He might dislike it now, but as he grows up healthy and strong, he’ll realize that you were only looking out for him.
All kittens will need to receive a shot against rabies. This shot will need to be repeated a year later. Other vaccines will include distemper and a vaccine for upper respiratory infections. Of course, there are other vaccinations that felines may need, but it depends on the lifestyle your pet will be leading. For example, if your new kitten is going to spend a lot of time outdoors and be in contact with other cats, you’ll need him to be vaccinated against the feline leukemia virus. Consult the vet to decide if any other shots are necessary.
Finally, we recommend placing some form of identification on your kitten, even if you plan to keep him as an indoors-only cat. Many pets without collars and identification discs are never returned to their guardians. An identification tag is such a simple, but effective way to make sure your lost pet has the means to return to you.