Original article by Chris Roth for PetsBest Blog
As the old saying goes, you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression. Keeping this advice in mind can come in handy when introducing yourself to a new feline. Cats are notoriously independent, and approaching a new cat is not like greeting a happy-go-lucky Labrador Retriever. Each cat you meet is unique and will have a different comfort level around people. The good news is that earning a cat’s trust and love is well worth the time and effort. In this article, we’ll give you six tips for succeeding in introducing yourself to a new cat.
1. Ask for Permission First
If possible, ask the owner or a shelter staff member about the cat's background and whether the cat is typically friendly with people. Keep in mind that cats generally don’t like sudden moves, loud noises, or feeling trapped. If the cat you’re visiting runs away, don’t chase after it. Once the cat calms down, you may have another chance to get to know each other.
2. Let the Cat Decide
Being overly assertive when you approach a new cat is a big mistake. Be calm and take things slowly. Observe the cat's behavior and let it dictate your next move. If you’re able to ingratiate yourself to a new cat and it no longer wants to interact, accept the cue and leave the cat be.
3. Get On the Cat’s Level
The best way to meet a cat is to get down to the cat’s level and simply extend your hand or a finger for the cat to smell. Don’t wave your hand or put it too close to the cat. By letting the cat investigate your gesture, the cat will feel much more comfortable. Once the cat has a chance to smell you, the cat may rub against your hand with a cheek or press against you with a shoulder. This is a sign that the cat feels comfortable with you and may welcome an attempt to be pet.
Most cats enjoy having the sides of their face pet or their heads massaged. If a cat feels particularly comfortable with you, they may lie down for a belly rub. Another sign of affection is the cat “mixing” your scents by rubbing up against you. Purring is not entirely understood by humans, and while purring can be a sign that a cat is content or happy, it could also have other implications. Make sure to consider the cat’s body language in addition to the purring. If the cat seems relaxed and starts purring, that’s most likely a good sign that you are on the way to becoming friends.
4. Offer a Treat
If a cat’s owner lets you know what their cat enjoys, use those things to wiggle your way into the feline’s heart. A favorite interactive toy or tasty treat can go a long way to making a new friend more quickly.
5. Don’t Force Interaction
If a cat would rather not be bothered, accept its wishes. Negative cues can include hissing, swatting, flattening or twitching of their ears or tail. When a cat’s pupils widen, it can signal a sign of fear. If a cat moves away from you, don’t follow it. Give the cat its space and wait for a better opportunity to connect. Slow, non-threatening movements win the day with our feline friends.
6. Pay Attention to the Cat’s Body Language
Just because a cat allows you to softly scratch its cheek or chin doesn’t mean it wants to be held or pet. Some cats can appear friendly, but don’t want their tail, back, or belly touched or rubbed. Be cautious and continually watch the cat's body language