Cats are unfathomable creaturesEven for people who know them best. This is because cats show affection and communicate in different ways than humans do — not all of us do slow blinking when we want to tell someone that we’re tolerant of them, after all.
Mismatches in communication can sometimes make it difficult to bond with your cat or meet new cats, but don’t be afraid. inverse I asked three different pet experts for their scientifically backed advice on the best ways to win your cat’s affection and learn their love languages.
“A cat’s affection for a human is really a sign of deep trust,” says Molly DeVos, a certified cat training and behavior specialist who runs Cat Behavior Solutions. inverse.
How can you make a cat love you?
Each of our experts have come up with several different ways to get to know your cat better, and thus make them love you more, too. Spoiler: Most of these strategies revolve around conceding control of the situation to your cat.
1. Provide a sense of control
Providing your cat with a sense of choice and control can help strengthen your relationship together,” says Catherine Pankratz, board-certified veterinary behaviorist. inverse.
“Most cats prefer interactions to be on their own terms.”
In other words: let the cat decide when And How do will interact with you.
Bankrates adds that some cats prefer to play “hard to get” and want you to ignore them, allowing them to approach you at will. It’s their way of building affection.
Mikel Delgado agrees that giving cats ownership over interactions is crucial.
“I would say the biggest mistake most of us make is wanting to handle our cats more than they want to handle them,” Delgado says.
Delgado is a cat expert on Feline Minds. As a cat expert, Delgado also asserts that “cats are more sensitive to touch than we are, and they can quickly overstimulate.”
2. Let the cat choose
If you’re not sure if your cat is okay with something you’re doing, stop and take a step back.
“Often, it can be helpful to do the ‘consent test’ intermittently by stopping the interaction, giving the cat some space, and seeing what they are going to do next,” Pankratz says.
Usually one of two things happen at this point.
- The cat remains still or walks away, indicating that the interaction has ended.
- The cat approaches you, rubs you, meows, or makes other gestures that indicate that it wants to continue interacting with you.
“It is often better to ‘let the cat want more’ than to continue interacting with a cat for longer than the cat might want to interact with,” Pankratz says.
3. It looks less dangerous
Delgado suggests several ways you can help keep your cat open to interaction by appearing less threatening:
- Get down at the cat’s level and gently extend your hand.
- If the cat rubs your hand, this is a good indication that she is open to petting.
- Watch for signs of irritation and give the cat a break if you notice them. Signs include: tail waving, eccentric meowing, or a quick turn of the head to stare at your hand
- Let them sit next to you without pets, or try playing an interactive game with them as an alternative to cuddling.
4. Maintain predictability
DeVoss stresses that predictability is key to avoiding making cats feel insecure in their surroundings. Try to create a low-stress environment and avoid making sudden noises in your home.
“Cats don’t really like change, so maintaining a routine and ritual schedule is very important when trying to build trust with a cat,” says DeVos.
Bankrates agrees. Avoid talking loudly or [making] Large movements or gestures can help you appear more predictable and make it more comfortable for cats to interact with you
5. They love cats
In the end, paying attention to your cat’s likes and body language – just as you would a human friend – is the best way to approach your cat.
“If the cat you want to interact with has certain things they enjoy, such as brushing teeth, toys, or treats, you can offer them something they enjoy,” Pankratz says.
6. Feed and play regularly
“Feeding is the most important opportunity to bond with your cat,” adds DeVos.
DeVoss suggests feeding your cat “multiple small meals a day” so that they associate you with food (which, surprisingly, is probably a good thing!).
Also, be sure to play with your cat using expert-approved games and gestures that mimic the feeling cats get when hunting for prey in the wild.
“Cats in the wild spend upwards of six hours a day hunting, so when we keep them indoors, they get pent-up energy that you need to spread through the hunting simulation play sequences,” says DeVos.
When all else fails: Follow the science. A 2021 study found that there are three best methods or CAT guidelines that humans should follow to increase the chance of a better interaction with cats.
C – saving the cat Choice and control
pay Attention Cat behavior and body language
T – limit touch. Contact. Link to their time zones (head and neck)
Oh, and cut back on petting when the cat wants it — not when you want to be petted. The study’s lead author who specializes in cat behavior and welfare, Lauren R. Finca, said in an interview with Phys.org:
“The results show a clear preference among cats for a ‘hands off’ approach to petting, which ultimately allows them to call up the most shots,” Finka said.
How should you approach an exotic cat?
Although you feel comfortable approaching your cat, it can be difficult to identify unfamiliar cats, such as your friend’s cat or the Siamese neighbor’s cat. But according to experts, this is far from impossible.
DeVos offers a five-step process for identifying exotic cats:
- Extend your knuckle so you can smell the cat.
- Allow the cat to “compose itself” by rubbing your hand.
- Keep your hand low to not touch the cat’s head.
- Go ahead at the cat’s pace.
- If you notice any signs of discomfort, withdraw your hand and allow the cat to identify the comfortable proximity to you.
How do cats show love?
We wrote an entire article on how to tell if your cat “likes” you or not, so check it out here.
But here’s a quick introduction to some of the basic ways cats show signs of affection, also known as “belonging behaviors.”
“Cats feel more comfortable about things they smell like,” says DeVos. Rubbing their cheeks will make you smell like pheromone.
A common body position, Pankratz says, is bunting, which occurs when “a cat approaches its head and rubs it against an object—in this case, most likely against a person’s leg.”
“They may continue to interact by rubbing their body with you and wrapping their tail around you,” she adds.
Grooming and sleeping in close contact and licking
“Some cats may lick people or sleep next to or alongside a person,” Pankratz said.
Remember, too, that cats often take care of other cats – known as allogrooming – as a way of getting to know them.
DeVos explains that cats will also display other gestures, such as pointing their rear end toward you as a display of love and vulnerability.
Delgado states that slow blinking is often a sign of feline affection.
“Other cats will greet you with a peep, by pulling and scratching a pole, or by showing their stomachs,” Delgado says, although you shouldn’t take that as an automatic cue to rub their belly.
Delgado explains that some cats are more straightforward when it comes to conveying emotions and may jump into your lap or meow for attention.
Are cats happy when they purr?
Expert consensus: purring cats are often happy creatures, but not always.
Pankratz says that while purring is often an indicator of cat satisfaction, it can also be a common way for cats to calm themselves when stressed.
Pay attention not only to the cat’s purring, but to other body language cues to get a better read on whether your cat is purring because it is pleased – or upset – with your actions.
“Purring can certainly mean that the cat is relaxed and relaxed, but purring can also mean that the cat is in pain, so assess the entire body language in perspective.”
Which cats are the most affectionate?
You can’t judge a book by its cover, just as you can’t judge a cat by its breed. Well, not quite.
“Personally, I find male orange cats to be more relaxed, confident, and affectionate—however, this is just anecdotal about dealing with thousands of cats in shelters,” DeVoss says.
There are some scientific studies that explore the relationship between a cat’s breed and personality. A quick summary of the results of the studies:
- A 2016 study found that Abyssinia and Tonkinese cats show greater social contact with people
- A 2019 study found that British short-haired cats were the least likely to seek human contact, while Korat and Devon Rex cats were the most likely to seek human contact.
- A 2021 study found that Korat, Eastern (Siamese and Balinese) and Abyssinian breeds are more social than British, Holy Birman, European Persian, and exotic, but this is subjective and depends on how researchers define social contact.
Some contradictory evidence: While previous research ranked Persian cats as less social, a 2019 study found that they were more likely to seek human contact — but only when researchers compared breeds previously studied for social contact.
The 2019 study also determined that Abyssinian and Oriental cats were more likely to initiate human contact, contrary to previous research. In general, the scientific evidence is somewhat mixed when it comes to defining affection by breed.
“The effect of breed on behavior has not been more extensively explored in domestic cats compared to domestic dogs,” says Pankratz.
“The general idea is that the breeds are more similar to each other than they are,” Delgado adds.
Experts say other factors, such as a cat’s past history with people, can be more influential than breed or genetics in determining their behaviour.
“There are various reasons why cats are likable or unlovable, including how they are socialized as kittens and how comfortable they are in their current living environment,” Delgado says.
DeVoss adds, “For example, a cat that has been abused, neglected, or traumatized may not be as social as a cat that has developed in a trusting and comfortable environment.”
At the end of the day, each cat should be treated as an individual with their own unique personality and naturally changing feelings – just like any human.
“Instead of judging, allow them to show your love for whatever is right for them, and do your best to make them happy,” Delgado says.