Bonding with a cat is a beautiful thing! It is quite an honor to have a cat choose to love you in return. However, the path to bonding with a cat doesn’t always seem very clear. If you are wondering how to bond with your cat, don’t give up! There are some great things that you can do that will set your relationship with your cat in the right direction.
Take it Slow and Be Consistent
One of the biggest keys to bonding with your cat is taking things slowly, being patient and being consistent in what you do. This is especially important if you are trying to bond with a cat that has been traumatized or is not well socialized. These kitties may have lost their trust of humans and you have the important job of proving yourself trustworthy. Please realize that your cat is not a bad cat, your cat is responding appropriately in accordance to his/her past experiences. Some cats will adapt to new environments or people more quickly than others. Create an experience for your cat that is predictable. Cats love familiarity! They need to be able to reliably predict how you will react in different situations. Can they climb in your lap without being pushed off? Can they sleep on your bed with you? They also need to feel that there is a consistent schedule of events. When is meal time? Who should be at home at this time of day? Is play time coming? Knowing what to expect can reduce anxiety quite a bit
How to Bond with Your Cat Using Food
Food is very significant in bonding with a cat. It fills one of their most basic needs! Cats tend to bond well with the person that feeds them. If you are having trouble bonding with your cat, it is a good time to stop free feeding (just leaving a bowl of food out all day) and stop using automatic feeders. Schedule consistent feeding times and make sure that you are handing the food to your cat personally each time. Doing this will give you an all new, important role in your cat’s life. Likewise, if there is a person in your home that needs to bond more with your cat, let them feed the cat too. Members of the household can take turns feeding the cat. However, cats do not always bond with the same intensity to each person. Some cats choose one or two people that they bond with tightly and they don’t bond in the same way to anyone else. Even still, allowing others to feed the cat can create trust between those people and the cat.
Engage in Interactive Play
Playtime is a wonderful way to bond with your cat! It shows your cat that you are fun and gives them positive experiences with you. Choose some great interactive toys like feather wands, laser pointers, and toys on strings. Each cat will have different toy preferences, so you may have to try several things before you find the perfect one. Adding catnip to toys can help enhance their attractiveness. Try poking a toy (even a plastic straw) out from under a pillow or blanket. Imitating a cat’s natural prey works wonders! Try playing with your cat at different times of day to find the best times. Trying to play with your cat right after he/she eats is not always the best idea. Some cats get sleepy after they eat and others will throw up if they are too active after eating. One of the best times to play could be in the hour or two before your bedtime. Cats tend to be most active around dusk and dawn.
Positive Behavior Modification Techniques
One of the worst things that you can do if you are trying to build a bond with a cat is punish that cat. Yelling, hitting, kicking, etc cause the cat not to trust you. For example, let’s say that the cat urinates on the carpet and you react by yelling at the cat, stomping over there and sticking the cat’s nose in the urine. The cat doesn’t get the message that they should not urinate on the carpet. The message they get instead is that you are loud, aggressive, and scary. Even if you succeed in getting the cat to stop urinating on the carpet (which is very unlikely) they will only stop doing it in front of you.
Rather than punishing your cat for behaviors you find unacceptable, learn to use positive reinforcement to encourage them to do the things you do want them to do. In our example above, you should first take the cat to the veterinarian to rule out medical problems and then begin trying different litter boxes, different litters, and different placements of the litter box to find what works for your cat. Try rewarding the cat with treats, praise or petting when you catch him/her using the litter box. Always offer an acceptable alternative for a problem behavior. Reward the acceptable behaviors. Clicker training works well too!
Using positive reinforcement creates a bond with your cat by creating a means of communication between the two of you. You learn to effectively communicate what makes you happy to the cat and the cat learns how to make you happy. Negative behaviors will dwindle by default. You will be able to more easily monitor your cat’s happiness as well. A sudden change in behavior means that something is wrong.