HOW TO BOND WITH “UNFRIENDLY” CATS
Since more cat positivity is clearly needed, I’m putting up some easy steps to bond with grumpy, timid or half-feral cats. I have tons of experience with cats, including ones that have had no previous contact with humans, and the way I approach them has never failed me. If you think a cat is simply unloving, try these and you’ll see an instant difference.
1. Don’t walk towards the cat or sound excited, but sit/kneel down someplace near it and speak softly.
2. Try to make eye-contact. The instant eye-contact is made, close your eyes for a couple seconds. The most simple way to translate the signal you’re sending by doing this is “I’m not your prey or your enemy.” If the cat understands and accepts this you’ll see them do the same thing back to you. If the cat is nervous it also helps to look away after the slow-blink.
3. if this cat is semi feral, extremely timid or has experienced abuse, you should put down some treats or food and move further away until it dares to get the treats. Repeat daily until the cat doesn’t hesitate to get the treats.
4. Hold your hand out and call softly for the cat. If this is a very timid cat it might take a while, but usually they’ll approach pretty quickly and sniff or rub their face against your hand. A kitten, or cat that’s not familiar with humans, might raise its paw and bat at your hand out of curiosity. If this happens, don’t pull your hand back as this might cause you to hurt yourself if the cat’s claws are out. Just keep still and it shouldn’t hurt you.
5. If the cat is rubbing its face on your hand, or walks past it to approach you directly, give it a gentle little scratch behind the ears. If the cat accepts this, you can start petting it, but focus the petting on its head and shoulders. If you see the tip of the cat’s tail wagging it’s overstimulated and it’s time to stop.
6. Congratulations. You’ve gained the cat’s trust!
Signs that an unfamiliar cat is not safe to pet: HUGE pupils that make their eyes look like black voids (this cat is either scared or very excited. Either way it’s unpredictable and more likely to act like a wild animal), raised back, ears flat, claws visibly out, growling and other deep noises, tail wagging frantically or just the tip of the tail wagging.
cat is safe to pet: Normal/narrow pupils, eyes somewhat narrowed (cats who feel comfortable sometimes look like they’re giving you a mean look), tail swaying slowly or resting by their side, tail raised and pointing towards you, ears up or pointing towards you.