I recently read somewhere that if you don’t like cats is because you associate love with control and I think that’s probably true.
I’ve noticed that most of the people that come to my apartment and claim to not like cats, when they meet my cat Mia they’ll try to approach her like… pspspspsp or even try to grab her… pretty much like they’ll approach a dog... This is not how you should approach a cat!
Naturally, Mia, like most cats would do, is like… leave me alone you freak!
Then, those people are like… see? This is why I don’t like cats.
That is so crazy to me… because my cat did not immediately trust you right away, for no reason and with you doing nothing to gain it, you feel entitled to be loved?
Well, with cats as with people, gaining their trust it’s not going to happen immediately, you’ll have to earn it. Particularly a scary cat will need a helping hand.
There are 3 things you should not do to get a cat to trust you
Never force a cat to be with you
Don't free-feed your cat
Avoid using punishment to educate behavior
Also 3 things you should start doing to gain a scared or shy cat’s trust
Play with your cat
Create and stick to routines
Keep reading to understand the detail behind each of these important points to get a cat to trust you fast.
You can watch the video below or keep on reading! :)
Playing Hard to Get Will Reduce Stress and Trigger Curiosity on the Cat
Forcing your cat to do things is the worst enemy to creating a bond and generating trust. Holding your cat against their will, taking them out of a hiding spot, forcing them to play, or petting them when they don’t want to will increase their fear and continue their anxiety around you.
If your cat is hiding, try using a toy or food to lure them out. Also, if every time you go by your cat you pet them, most likely you are going to pet them at times when they are not interested in it. This is going to create a negative experience.
If your cat starts associating you petting them with negative experiences, not only your cat will avoid you to prevent you from petting them when they don’t want to, they might even associate your general presence with something bad.
Have you ever noticed how cats tend to gravitate towards the one allergic person in the room?
Playing hard to get is the best way to get a cat to approach you.
Letting your cat take the lead on the affection moments will help you ensure that all the interactions are positive and you will see that they will start to gain your trust.
Stop Free Feeding. Become the Hand that Feeds the Cat.
Stop free feeding your cat. Think about it. To a cat, if there’s always food available for them, they just “found it”. Automatic feeders are not much better.
If you feed your cats meals instead of leaving a bowl of food always available for them or using an automatic feeder, they will learn to come to you for their food.
Every time it’s meal time, it’s socialization time.
Feeding your cats every time will make your cats associate you with their meals, someone good, worthy of trust and affection.
Be the hand that feeds your cat. With every meal, you can get closer to them or even pet them. Getting your cat to be comfortable enough to eat with you nearby can go a long way to getting your cat to trust you.
A little trick to get your cat to like people coming over and have positive social interactions with your visits is to have some treats ready for your guests. When they arrive, hand them some treats and let them reward your cat for accepting them into their territory.
Your cat will soon realize that new people equals their favorite treats and if that’s not a positive association, what is then?
I switched to a raw diet, but that is a topic for another post.
Stop Punishing Your Cat, It's Making Them Hate You
Don’t punish your cat. To allow your cat to associate you with positive things, you have to avoid punishing them when they do engage in unwanted behaviors.
Punishment will create a negative association with you but affect their anxiety levels, impacting their general well-being as well. It’s easy to enter the Bermuda Triangle of punishment (I just coined this concept) haha.
Your cat does something you don’t like, you punish them, and it creates anxiety that will lead to more behavior you don’t like… and there you go, another cat lost to the Bermuda Triangle.
When your cat is doing something you don’t want, the best way to go about it is to correct the behavior using positive reinforcement.
The process of stopping your cat from engaging in unwanted behaviors has 3 steps:
- Understand what is causing the behavior
- Offer an alternative
- Reward when they use the alternative instead of the unwanted behavior.
I have a full playlist talking about correcting unwanted behavior, you can check it out by clicking here.
Playtime Impacts on Your Cat Confidence and Behavior Towards Humans
Play regularly and often with your cat. Cats start socializing as kittens with play. They learn to trust each other, define boundaries and interact mindfully thanks to their hunting instinct.
When a cat is playing, they’re in hunting mode, and when in hunting mode, cats are fearless. Figure out what kinds of toys your cat responds to and play with them as much as you can.
Shy cats may prefer toys focused on a distant object, such as a feather wand or laser pointer. Others may respond well to catnip-filled mice or other catnip toys.
Once you find the ones they like, find a few moments each day for activities and play.
I created a full video talking about the best ways to interact with your cat during playtime and how to get your cat to play with you. It’s a must-watch if you haven’t seen it already.
Routine Will Help Your Cat Be Confident and Trusting
Create and stick to daily routines. Routine will help your cat anticipate what’s coming.
Defining and sticking to sleeping, feeding, or playing patterns is important and will allow them to feel secure and comfortable.
Routine is a way to relax your cat as they come to know what to expect, including when you are away at work and when they will have your undivided attention for play and grooming.
Learn Cat Body Language To Learn When Your Cat Needs Space Before They Tell You
Learn to understand when your cat needs space. When your cat starts wagging the tail, for instance, your cat is getting anxious. If you learn to release your cat when they need to, and they feel they can come and go, they will be more likely to come back to you.
The one thing you can do today to start improving your bond with your cat is to learn more about their body language.
In this video, I share with you 18 signs your cat is sending you that you might not be interpreting correctly.
Your cat is very subtle at sending you cues but they do it all the time. When you learn to interpret them, and give your cat the space they need, it will take the bond and the trust to a different dimension.
How to Know if a Cat Trusts You
There are many ways your cat can show trust The more vulnerable they are when they present the behavior, the more they trust you.
Sitting Within an Arm Reach
Cats don't have any need for socialization and if they don't like or trust you they will simply walk away.
When a cat is curious enough to stay around you, even if they don't allow you to touch them, they are being curious and trusting.
Eating Near You
If your cat eats when you are around, even if you are not able to reach them, they are being vulnerable by not looking at you and focusing on the meal.
This is a good sign that the cat is starting to trust you and you can potentially use food to get them to come closer.
When they come closer, even if it's within reach, don't break the trust and don't try to touch them, that could break the trust you've built.
Rubbing Against You
The first contact with a cat should always be initiated by the cat. Remember the point we mentioned before. Playing hard to get is the best approach.
Rubbing against you is a behavior cats have to spread pheromones. Pheromons act in cat colonies as a "tag" to mark other members as safe. If a cat is rubbing against you with their heads, their mouth or their tail, they are marking you as safe.
Sleeping or Showing Their Belly
This is the ultimate sign of trust. A cat that will sleep or show their belly is a sign that they are totally comfortable being vulnerable near you.
This is never an invitation to grab them or pet them. Doing that creates the opposite effect, you broke the trust they have in you.
Stay wild, stay Safe… See you outdoors
Albert & Mia