Meeting a New Cat
When meeting a new cat there are specific things you must do in order to build a bond. We all agree that unlike dogs, cats tend to be a bit more difficult to befriend. They are independent, aloof and at times wary of new people and environments. This is also dependent on the past history of the cat. In any case, when meeting a new cat for the first time, be it at a friend’s house or when getting yourself a new pet, there are specific things you can do that will help your new feline friend get accustomed to you and learn to trust you. Below are five main things you need to know.
Do not stare a cat in the eyes
When meeting a new cat for the first time, do not to make direct eye contact. Directly looking into the eyes of any animal is perceived as a challenge. When cats fight they will try to out-stare each other to resolve conflicts. On the other hand when a cats try to avoid a fight, they will drop their eyes and look away. This is to tell other cats that they are not threatening them. Always keep this in mind and never stare directly at a cat especially on first meeting.
The Calm Approach
When meeting a new cat never rush towards the cat with a load voice shrieking, “Oh how cute!!!”. As animal lovers this is our first reaction. However, keep in mind that you are a much larger animal than the cat. A wrong approach will startle and scare the cat. So the key to approaching a new cat is; approach calmly and quietly, while lowering yourself to their level as much as possible. While still avoiding direct eye contact you can get closer to about a meter’s distance. Always assess the cat’s reaction to your approach and make sure to leave enough distance so that the cat does not feel cornered in any way. Give space if you see that the cat is uncomfortable with your presence. If you are still new to the cat world we will be writing another post that will help you “Understand the Cat Language” better.
Let them come to you
Once you get close enough to the cat let it do the next move. Cats are curious by nature and will tend to come over if they feel comfortable. However not all cats are the same. Some cats will approach within less than a minute, while others could take days or even weeks until they are comfortable to approach a new person. In any case, it is always better to give a cat its time and space until it feels ready. You can always use treats or curious toys to help the process. For problematic cats you can also try helping the process by using Feliway®, which is a feline pheromone that indicates a safe and secure environment to the cat.
The cat “Hello”
Have you ever observed a cat explore new territory and meet other cats or people? For sure you noticed that cats always approach nose first and take a while to sniff and take in the new scents. This is how you will say “Hello”. Once the cat approaches you, just extend your arm and let the cat have a good sniff. This is the equivalent of the human “Hello”. It helps to move your hand in a way that it does not look menacing i.e. gently and where the cat can clearly see it. In cases of difficult cats, a few sprays of Feliway® can help the process. Proceed to pet the cat lightly under the chin or behind the ears only if the cat rubs its face against your hand. Let the cat make the first move and let the cat lead the way.
The cat “I love you”
As mentioned earlier, avoid direct eye contact when meeting new cats. However, not all eye contact is bad. Once the cat is more comfortable around you, you can try what is called “blink kissing”. This is done by blinking slowly and deliberately while staring directly at the cat. This prolonged break in eye contact will convey the message “I’m not threatening, you can trust me.” Some cats may even “blink kiss” back, while others may become more self-aware. So make sure to assess the cat’s reaction and adjust accordingly. If you see that the cat is getting uneasy you just need to keep avoiding eye contact as much as possible until the cat gets to know you more.
In conclusion, if you want to make sure to start on the right foot when meeting a new cat, always keep in mind the above five points. Avoid eye contact, approach the cat calmly while extending your arm. Let the cat come to you for a good sniff. We wish you all the luck and fun with your cat relations.