how to earn a cat's trust

Purr-fecting Your Approach: 10 Tips to Earn a Cat’s Trust

Cats are fascinating creatures, with their graceful movements, independent personalities, and mysterious ways. If you’re lucky enough to share your life with a feline friend, you know how rewarding it can be; but you also know how challenging it can be to win their trust. Cats are not like dogs, who are eager to please and quick to trust. Instead, cats are cautious by nature, and they require a more delicate approach. It takes more than a few meaty treats to earn a cat’s trust.

If you want to bond with a new house cat or stray, you need to show that they can rely on you. This takes time, patience, and a deep understanding of feline behavior. In today’s post, I’ll be sharing 10 tips to help you purr-fect your approach to befriending a cat.

Whether you’re a seasoned cat owner, a new cat parent, or someone who’s considering taking in a stray, these tips should be useful. They will help you develop a deep connection with the furry companion and build a relationship to last a lifetime.

1.      Understand Feline Behavior

Before you can earn the trust of a cat, it is essential to understand their behavior. Cats are predators by nature, and they have a strong sense of self-preservation. They are cautious and prefer to observe their surroundings before they act. In contrast to dogs, who are pack animals and rely on their owners to guide them, cats are solitary creatures and prefer to make their own decisions.

Cats are also very sensitive to their environment and easily become stressed or anxious. Therefore, trying to get close to a feline that is not familiar to you may overwhelm them and trigger an aggressive response. Interact with the cat from a distance in the beginning, so that it can adhere to your presence and perceive your intentions correctly.

2.      Observe the Cat’s Body Language

One of the most important things to notice about cats is their body language. Cats use their bodies to communicate, and hence it is useful to be able to comprehend their signals. For example, a cat with its tail held high is usually feeling confident and content, while a cat with its tail tucked between its legs is feeling scared or anxious.

Other body language cues include flattened ears, dilated pupils, and hair standing on end; these symptoms indicate that the cat is in a ‘fight or flight’ state of mind. By interpreting these signs, you can better respond to their moods. Bear in mind that every cat is unique; some cats are social and outgoing, while others are more reserved and independent. By deciphering their personality, you can tailor your approach to make them feel safe.

3.      Stick to a Routine

Earning the trust of a cat takes time, patience, and consistency. Cats are creatures of habit, so they prefer routine or predictability. You can make a cat feel comfortable in your territory by establishing a routine and sticking to it. This may include feeding your cat at the same time every day, keeping their litter box clean, and simply providing a safe space. It is also a good idea to schedule a playtime and not to disturb the cat while it’s their nap time.

4.      Use Positive Reinforcement

The smart way to make a cat like you and listen to you is through positive reinforcement. This means rewarding your cat for good behavior, such as using the litter box (without making a mess), scratching on a designated scratching post, and being patient during a grooming session. You can use treats, toys, and even words of praise to reward your cat.

It is crucial t to be consistent with the pattern, and only reward good behavior. This helps your cat learn what is expected of them and what kind of behavior is undesirable. .

5.      Create a safe and comfortable environment

Cats are highly susceptible to their surroundings; hence, they need a space that is free of stress-inducing elements. For starters, provide the cat with a comfortable bed, access to a sunny window, sufficient food, fresh water, a scratching post, and plenty of toys.

You may also use pheromone sprays or diffusers to help create a calming environment. By providing a safe and homely space, you encourage the cat to relax and depend on you.

6.      Pay attention to your own Body Language

Felines are very perceptive; they easily pick up on your mood and energy. If you’re tense or on edge, the cat will sense this and might become restless itself. By staying calm, you give off relaxing vibes that allow the cat to feel secure.

Try not to be too loud around the cat, as its ears are 4-5 times more sensitive than human ears. Sudden movements and high-pitched sounds may alarm the cat and trigger the ‘fight or flight’ mode.  

7.      Handle the cat correctly

Apart from avoiding sudden movements or loud noises, approach a cat from the side rather than head-on. It is necessary to give it plenty of space to move around. Do not touch the cat or get too close if it hisses or displays signs of aggression.

When handling a cat, use gentle, slow movements. Never yank them by the paws and tail! Avoid picking up the cat by the scruff of their neck or carrying them in a way that is painful or uncomfortable for them.

8.      Find the right Food, Treats, and Toys

Finding the right feed and knick-knacks for a cat helps build trust and strengthen your bond. Cats have individual preferences when it comes to food and toys, so it’s important to experiment and find what it likes best. When choosing treats, look for brands that are high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Avoid foodstuff that is high in sugar, grains, and artificial ingredients. You may also try offering the cat fresh/raw or cooked meat, such as chicken, beef, and fish.

For toys, select the ones that are safe, lightweight, and durable. Cats enjoy toys that mimic their natural prey, such as toys with feathers or strings. Supervise your cat when playing with toys to ensure they are not ingesting or choking on any small parts.

9.      Identify and Eliminate Stress Triggers

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, a cat may exhibit hostility or fear. It is imperative to understand that these behaviors are a natural response to stress causing elements in the environment.

You should always address the cat with patience in a polite manner if you hope to earn its trust. If the cat is constantly hissing and swatting, give them space and figure out what is bothering them. For instance, it could be an unusual sound, odor, or moving object near them.

Once you’ve identified the trigger, eliminate it and see that it doesn’t return in the future. If the cat is hiding or avoiding interaction, respect its boundaries. Leave it on its own for a while and act aloof, so it can come out and explore the surroundings. Let the cat come to you rather than reaching out to it with too much enthusiasm.

10. Common mistakes to avoid

One of the biggest errors is forcing a cat to interact with you. If the cat is clearly distressed by your closeness, you need to maintain some distance. Imposing yourself on the cat will develop mistrust rather than earing their trust. Another common mistake is punishing your cat for bad behavior. For example, scolding the cat, hitting it, locking it up, or not feeding it is unacceptable.

Punishment is counterproductive in case of cats because this type of attitude will make you look like their enemy. Instead of punishing your cat, give them the silent treatment; you may also deprive them of your attention and affection for a while. As mentioned before, apply positive reinforcement to reward good behavior.

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