Whether you’ve just brought a cat home from the shelter or have your eye on an outdoor cat you want to make your own, you’ll need to learn how to gain your cat’s trust. Gaining a cat’s trust can take time and patience, but once you’ve earned it, you will have made a life-long friend.
The most critical step to befriending a cat is to help him feel secure around you. In this article, we will go over seven steps you should follow to earn the trust of even the wariest of cats.
How to Get Started
Before diving in, you must make a few preparations.
Provide a Safe Haven for Your Cat
Predominantly, your cat will need his own space where he feels safe. By providing your cat with secure, comfortable areas in your home, you can help him settle and acclimate to his new environment. A warm spot to sleep, a clean place to eat and drink, and an isolated location to use the bathroom will go a long way toward making your cat feel more comfortable.
Offering plenty of toys, places to perch, and locations to hide will also comfort your cat. If your cat can keep himself entertained, he will be less likely to become restless. Before bringing a cat home, be sure to have these areas covered.
Understand Your Cat
If you adopted your cat from a shelter, the shelter might be able to disclose some information about your cat’s background. If your cat has suffered a history of neglect or maltreatment, it will be harder for you to gain his trust. You must be especially patient in this instance; demonstrating yourself as a soothing presence will be necessary.
Learn Your Cat’s Body Language
Cats communicate with us through their body language. If you don’t understand your cat’s non-verbal communication, you may miss important information your cat is trying to convey, which can lead to misunderstandings and splintered trust.
Try to brush up on feline body language basics before bringing a cat home. Your cat may use many parts of the body to communicate with you, but primarily, your cat will use his tail, eyes, and posture.
When it comes to your cat’s tail, take note of these situations:
Your cat’s posture is another key to interpreting his body language.
Once you understand feline non-verbal communication, you will be better equipped to encourage a cat to trust you.
The 7 Tips for Getting a Cat to Trust You
To gain a cat’s trust, follow these seven steps.
1. Regularly Offer Food and Water
Your cat’s tummy may be the quickest way to his heart. By establishing a consistent feeding routine, your cat will learn that you are the provider of his food, water, and shelter.
Depending on how shy or nervous your cat is, you may want to sit at a distance while he eats. Standing may make him feel like you are looming over him, which can be intimidating. If you sit in the room while he is eating and speak in a soft, soothing voice, you can help him grow accustomed to your presence.
If he doesn’t want to eat with you around, then start slow. Give him his food and leave the room so that he feels secure enough to eat. The rest will come with patience and time.
2. Use Scents to Help Cats Relax
As your cat is acclimating to his new environment, scents can be a great tool to help him settle. Purchasing a synthetic pheromone diffuser is one way that you can make your cat feel calm. You can also put one of your unwashed shirts in his bed or near his favorite things so he can grow accustomed to your scent and feel secure with it.
3. Check Your Behavior
While you are trying to gain your cat’s trust, you may be unknowingly behaving against your own interests. If you want your cat’s trust, you must be a source of comfort and security in his life. If you are accidentally scaring him, you will never gain his trust.
When house training your cat, always use positive reinforcement. Never raise your voice when you spot your cat doing something he should not; instead, softly praise him when he performs desirable tasks. Likewise, ensure you are not sneaking up on your cat or frightening him with sudden motions.
4. Determine When Your Cat is Ready to Interact
If you have been sitting nearby while your cat eats, watch for signs that he is ready to interact with you. If he sits near you or sits with his back to you and begins to groom himself, it signifies that he is starting to feel more comfortable in your presence. However, wait to approach him. You are still working on building his trust.
5. Make an Effort to Be Non-Threatening
Once your cat becomes more comfortable around you, start presenting yourself as non-threatening as possible. For instance, you can lie down and turn your head away from your cat. This will help him feel even more secure with you, and he may approach you of his own volition.
6. Allow Your Cat to Set the Pace
If your cat does approach you, let him set the pace. Don’t immediately rush to pet him or display other physical affection; moving too fast can disrupt your progress. If your cat begins to bump his head against you, it shows he feels much safer with you.
7. Spend Time with Your Cat
After your cat regularly approaches you and bumps his head against you, you can begin playing or showing signs of affection. You can increase your bond significantly by making playtime a regular part of your daily routine. Eventually, you can gently scratch your cat’s head and ears. Continue to check your behavior to ensure that you are as non-threatening as possible, and soon enough, you will have fully gained your cat’s trust.
The 3 Signs that Your Cat Trusts You
Cats can be social and affectionate, but it’s challenging to tell when they fully trust you. Below are some of the signs that may indicate that your cat is feeling comfortable and secure around you.
1. Your Cat Loves to Be Around You
Of course, cats enjoy their private time, so your cat won’t be glued to you 24/7. But if a good portion of your day at home is spent with your feline friend, that is a strong indicator that your cat feels happy and safe around you.
2. Your Cat Shows Physical Affection
If your cat grooms, kneads, or rubs his face on you, it means he trusts you.
3. Your Cat Is Talkative with You
Does your cat chirp or meow when you come home? This means he’s happy you’re back and that you make him feel safe.
Felines are not widely perceived as being as affectionate as canines, but they can be loyal companions when you establish trust. A cat’s trust is a precious thing to have, so don’t take it for granted. Once you have your cat’s trust, continue to treat your cat with the same consideration you displayed while trying to gain it. By treating your cat with respect, you will cultivate a strong bond with your cat that enriches both of your lives.
Featured Image Credit: Impact Photography, Shutterstock