Saturday, April 16, 2011

How to Bond with Your Cat

By Julia Williams

One of the most prevalent myths about cats is also one that, as a lifelong cat lover, I can unequivocally refute. Cats are said to be aloof, independent creatures that shun humans and don’t form close bonds with them. Many people joke that the only use cats have for people is to keep their food dish full. If that were really true, I imagine there would be a lot less cat owners in the world. Cats can and do bond with humans. This is not to say there aren’t aloof cats among us. There are, yet I believe the vast majority of them are not born aloof but become that way as a result of their environment or lack of human interaction.

Not counting the “family cats” of my childhood, I’ve been a mom to 12 different felines, and have had a close relationship with all of them. Learning how to bond with your cat is not rocket science. It’s more about knowing a few simple things about cats that will help you forge a mutual close relationship.

Respect Your Cat’s Individuality

This is by far the most important thing you can do if you want to have a good relationship with your cat. It’s crucial because cats are individuals and each one has very different likes and dislikes. Moreover, they don’t enjoy being forced to do something they don’t like. Imagine what would happen if you took a child who disliked roller coasters on the Matterhorn ride at Disneyland. They’d scream, cry, kick and make your life miserable. The same principle holds true with cats.

Some cats love being held and hugged, while others don’t. One cat may love having its belly rubbed, while another might think this is a form of torture. If you want to bond with your cat, you need to first learn what it likes and what it doesn’t like. Then you can spend your time doing the things your cat prefers rather than trying to force it to do things it doesn’t enjoy.

Although you may want a cat that enjoys being petted while sitting on your lap, you may actually have a cat that prefers being petted while it’s lying on the bed or the floor. Unfortunately, you get what you get, and you can’t change your cat’s preferences by wishing or by force. This is one reason I love having more than one cat. My three cats all like different things, so I get to enjoy a little of everything. For example, one cat doesn’t like being held or kissed but will sit on my lap for petting, for as long as I indulge him. One likes to be cradled like a baby but is not a fan of the lap. One loves to be brushed while two do not. You get the idea. It’s all about what the cat likes, not what you like!

Spend Time with Your Cat

You simply can’t expect to bond with your cat if you don’t interact with them on a daily basis. This is especially true if you work outside the home and are gone for most of your cat’s day. If you come home, plop on the couch to watch TV and don’t pet your cat or play with them, do you think they don’t notice? It’s preposterous to think that cats don’t have feelings and don’t know when they’re being ignored. They certainly do, and they don’t feel all warm and fuzzy toward the people who ignore them. Greet your cat enthusiastically every time you come home. Engage them in play with their furry mouse or feather toy. Show them that they matter to you, and you may be surprised to see that they actually meet you at the front door!

Talk to Your Cat

Even though your cat will not understand everything you say, they can and do learn certain words. Aside from that, they love hearing your voice and they know that you’re speaking to them and paying attention to them. You can talk to them about anything and everything because what you say doesn’t matter nearly so much as how often you speak to them and are focused solely on them.

These tips are all things I have learned from many years of having cats in my life. I really believe that anyone can form a close bond with their cat if they desire it, and are willing to do a few simple things to nurture the feline-human relationship. When you treat your cat like family, respect their individuality and see them as sentient beings that want to give and receive love, your relationship will blossom.

Read more articles by Julia Williams


  1. This is SO true! We have 13 Cats at our house, and they are all unique personalities. Attention is key! They all have certain times and routines they enjoy with both me and hubby...he works from home so they always have a person to interact with. (and drive crazy!)

  2. This is all very true. All the cats I've owned have loved their humans, but all in different ways. Link is very demanding and always wants to play. But if I get tired of dangling a toy near his head, he'll settle for a good snuggle instead.

  3. this is wonderful advice. If you think about it...any type of animal isn't stereotypical...just like people. We all have different personalities, cats, dogs, what works for one will not necessarily work for another. Loved this!

  4. Absolutely! Each of my three cats has a personality of their own, and each has a preference about when and where to pet. I love to spend time and talk with them every day, and I know deep in my heart that they love me just as much as I love them. When you open your heart to your cat friend, it's amazing to feel the love that pours in.

  5. I think all animals have unique and individual personalities. Thank you for this post.

  6. Julia, as always, you've hit the nail right on the head! All of our cats have had unique personalities, and we've had strong bonds with all of them. This is true both at home (Sammy and Moosey, though very different from each other, are both very bonded to Tracey and me) and at the shelter at which we volunteer. :)

  7. I had a cat long before I got a dog and the cat watches me play with the dog in the yard. The cat has his own space on the back porch and the dog cant get up there because of the baby gate. The cat seems to be mad at me lately and wont come and sit on my lap any more. Whats going on.

  8. Patricia, did you get the dog recently? If so, it sounds as though the cat is jealous and may feel displaced. You should make a point to spend quality time with your cat by itself each day, ideally when the dog is not present. Perhaps someone else could take the dog for a walk while you play with your cat, groom him and just talk to him. It's also a good idea to have a vet checkup to make sure his change in behavior isn't due to a medical problem.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...