Want to be that person all that cats love? Here are some simple tips that will help you attract friendly feline attention!
A 2021 experiment conducted in an animal shelter showed that cats were much more likely to be friendly and affectionate towards visitors when they were given specific guidelines about how to interact with the cats.1 Not only were the cats more pettable, but they were also less stressed. Both are huge wins because they increase the chances of the cats getting adopted!
The best part about this study is that the guidelines for good manners around cats was as simple as C-A-T:
|C – CHOICE / CONTROL|
Provide the cat with CHOICE and CONTROL during the interaction.
1. Remain seated. Gently offer your hand to the cat, allow the cat to approach you, and let them choose if they want to interact or not.
2. If the cat wants to be touched, he or she will rub against you. If they don’t make contact or stay close by, avoid stroking the cat.
3. Allow the cat to control how much you stroke them. If stroking the cat, briefly pause every 3-5 seconds to ‘check in’ with the cat – when you stop stroking them, do they rub against you to ask for more? If not, they may be ready for a break.
|A – ATTENTION|
Pay ATTENTION to the cat’s behavior and body language; give the cat a little break if:
• the cat moves away from you
• their ears become flattened or rotate backwards
• they shake their head
• the fur on their back appears to ripple
• they lick their nose
• they go a bit still, and stop purring or rubbing against you
• they sharply turn their head to face you or your hand
• they suddenly start grooming themselves
|T – THINK / TOUCH|
THINK about where you’re TOUCHING the cat.
Most friendly cats will prefer being touched under their chin, around their cheeks and at the base of their ears, so try to stick mainly to these areas.
Avoid the base of the tail and tummy, and be cautious then touching the cat’s back, legs and tail – pay close attention to their body language to see if they appear comfortable.
Where to pet cats
Every cat is an individual, so make sure to always give them Control over the interaction, pay Attention to their body language, and Think about where they are trying to steer your touch.
Areas where cats are most likely to accept petting.
Some cats will like these areas being touched, some won’t. Pay close attention to the cat’s behavior if touching these areas
Most cats won’t like being touched here. Try to avoid touching these areas.
Sources: 1Haywood C, Ripari L, Puzzo J, Foreman-Worsley R and Finka LR (2021) Providing Humans With Practical, Best Practice Handling Guidelines During Human-Cat Interactions Increases Cats’ Affiliative Behaviour and Reduces Aggression and Signs of Conflict. Front. Vet. Sci. 8:714143. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2021.714143
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