Saturday, April 16, 2011
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