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Cat Q & A: How Can I Get a Cat to Like Me?

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Whether you’re meeting a friend’s cat or bringing home a rescue cat from the shelter, you’ll want to make a good first impression. But, sometimes, cats feel threatened and run away. They may even bite your finger when you want to pet them. What’s really going on behind those adorable blue eyes? Why won’t they respond to your affection? Marilyn Krieger, a cat behaviourist, says the issue is not you—it’s just your behaviour. “A lot of the time, the reasons for a cat’s behavior are because of what people do or don’t do,” she says. 

Here are 4 things that experts recommend to get a cat to like you.

Let the cat approach you.

Unlike dogs, cats feel uncomfortable when a new person suddenly enters their space. If you corner the cat (in a cat house) and start petting it right away, it will probably ignore you or run away.

Instead, you should crouch down so that you are closer to the cat, and extend your index finger to the cat. You can also lay your hand on the ground. Allow the cat to sniff your hand to familiarize itself with your scent. Then, start to gently scratch her head. If she seems antsy or pulls away, just back off. According to Ohio State's Indoor Pet Initiative, "Each cat adjusts at a different pace and it may take time for her to get used to the new person [you]. Let the cat decide when she is comfortable."

Learn about the cat’s preferences.

Each cat has distinctive likes and dislikes. Some like to be scratched behind the ears. Others prefer a belly rub or gentle strokes along the back. Ask what the cat tends to like best, and try that. “Most cats enjoy being rubbed on the forehead, around the ears, neck, and cheeks,” Dr. Marci Koski, Ph.D., explains, “so stick to these areas with a new cat.” 

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Choose the right body language.

Because humans are much larger than cats, we can seem intimidating without meaning to do so. To avoid this, just crouch down. Try not to make direct eye contact at first, because it can seem confrontational.

A cat may also get nervous if you are too aggressive. Instead, don’t pay too much attention to the cat when you meet her. She’ll approach you when she’s ready.

Give kitty treats.

We all know that food can be a powerful motivator for cats! If you want to get a cat to like you, ask the previous owner what his or her favourite treats are. Some cats like tuna, while others prefer Temptations. However, this doesn’t mean that you should host a buffet of all-you-can-eat treats! Use the treats carefully to…

1) Reward social interaction with you or

2) Draw a shy cat to get to know you better.

Do you want to get a cat to like you? It doesn’t have to be complicated or mysterious. By following these simple tips, you’ll soon have your cat eating out of your hand!

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