How to build your bond with your cat.
How many times have you heard "A dog is a man's best friend"? Cat enthusiasts will argue passionately about this because they know cats bond strongly, too. They just do it differently.
Whether you recently adopted a new cat or have had your pet for years, the guidance in this article can help you recognize and build strong and rewarding bonds with your cat.
Does My Cat Love Me? Cat-owner Bond
First, let's take stock of you and your cat's current bond. Below are 14 signs of affection your cat may display in three categories. How many of the signs do you experience? How regularly do you encounter them?
Almost any kind of close contact initiated by your cat can be considered a sign of affection and bonding. Examples include:
- Kneading you with their paws
- Butting their forehead up against your body
- Rubbing their body against your legs
- Gently nipping at your hands or body
- Sitting on top of you
Some signs of affection are more subtle. They require you to learn cat body language. While cats do meow, they communicate more often with posture and quiet motion.
- Staring into your eyes
- Slowly blinking at you
- Exposing their belly
- Curving the tip of their tail
Cats make sounds you might compare to human sighs of contentment, like purring and meowing. They also practice gift giving. Although you may not appreciate their donation of a dead mouse, remember, it's the thought that counts. Examples of bonding include:
- Grooming you
- Following you
- Meowing to you
- Bringing you "gifts"
How to Bond with Your Cat
If you regularly see all or several signs from all three groups above, read no further. You and your feline friend share a very strong bond. If you see too few signs, here’s how to build your bond, whether you care for a long-time pet or want to bond with a new arrival.
The number-one best practice for all relationships is, of course, patience. You can’t hurry love. Nor can you make your cat love you. Bonding takes time. It comes with setbacks. But time will smooth the way.
Let your cat choose the pace of bonding. If they’re new to your home, give them time to understand and become comfortable with their new environment. Some cats settle in more quickly than others, but they all need time.
When your cat does start sending you some of the signals listed above, you can slowly make your moves. Follow the guidelines below, but be prepared to back off for a while if you receive negative signals like flattened ears, dilated pupils or a twitching tail. Occasionally a cat may even purr to calm down when agitated.
Speak Cat Language
No, we’re not suggesting you learn how to meow or start nipping your cat, but understand that cats see the world much differently than we do. Their ancestors were wild predators, constantly on the prowl and keenly attentive to potential danger. It takes time for them to get the lay of the land where you live and to understand who they can trust, where they can hide and when it feels right to approach you.
Observe and mimic your cat’s approach to familiarity. If they try to hide, make sure they have a hiding place — a safe spot to crawl into and watch what’s going on.
Reinforce Bonding Behavior
Work on making your presence pleasant and rewarding. Your cat should realize quickly that food comes from you. That’s a good start. It helps to offer toys and initiate play sessions with string, yarn or a laser pointer, too.
Start leaving treats behind you, and then in front of you. Then, feed your cat from your hand. Soon you’ll be able to put treats on your lap, and your cat may jump on. They may even settle in for a nap when you least expect it.
Trust the Bond
When you eventually enjoy signs of bonding, you can be absolutely certain it’s genuine. Cats can’t fake affection. With love and nurturing, your bond will only grow stronger over time.
- Hughes, K. (2018, January 18) 6 Surefire Ways to Bond with Your Cat. Retrieved May 31, 2020, from https://www.petmd.com/cat/slideshows/6-surefire-ways-bond-your-cat
- Moore, A. (n.d.) 10 Ways Your Cat Shows You Love . Retrieved October 27, 2021, from https://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/10-ways-your-cat-shows-you-love