Aloof to Lap Cat in 15 Easy Steps
Is Your Cat So Aloof She Makes You Feel Like The Hired Help?
If you wanted a cat as a cuddly, lap loving companion, then a stand-offish cat can be a disappointment. It’s not that you love her any the less for it, but rather you’d like to love her more. But don’t despair because there are strategies which can help turn her head and think that a warm lap is a great place after all.
As a cat guardian, you must accept you can’t force a cat to do anything they don’t want to, even if that is accepting love. Instead, you have to use a little feline cunning and think like a cat to make her feel safe and secure. Then she’s more likely to trust you enough to unleash her inner lap cat.
A Word about Realistic Expectations
Persistence and patience will win Kitty’s confidence in the end. This takes longer for some cats than others, anywhere from days to weeks, months, or even years. Part of this is down to early socialization…or the lack of it.
Feral kittens or cats not exposed to people at an early age are hard-wired to be suspicious of people. This makes for a truly uphill struggle to rehabilitate them. Un-fur-tunatley for some feral cats this is a struggle too far and the best you can expect is for her to stay in the same room, twitching her tail a little.
However, for the average house cat that pre-furs her company to yours, most will succumb to allure of company once she learns to trust you.
What NOT to Do
We’re talking about winning trust, so to start with you may need to stop doing certain things that in cat language are off-putting or scary.
- Don’t invade her pur-sonal space: Going up to a cat means you’re invading her personal space. This sets her an edge, and isn’t a great start to a relationship. A better tactic is to make yourself more interesting (perhaps with treats) and let her come to you…but more of this in steps five through to eight.
- Don’t cut off her escape route: A cat feels reassured just knowing she has the option to run. If you block her escape route this raises her anxiety levels. A good habit to get into is checking she has a clear way to the door should she want to escape.
- Don’t overwhelm her: Avoid loud noises, bright lights, or overwhelming her with cuddles and fuss. Less is more when it comes to making friends with felines. Take a step back (mentally and physically) to give her the time and space to get used to the situation.
- Don’t stare: You may want to look at her gorgeous round face, but to a cat a stare is a challenge to a fight. Instead, make her feel more comfortable by looking away and watching from the corner of your eye.
What to Do
So far we’ve talked about negatives, so let’s start turning things around and what you can do to speed things along.
- Find her ‘must have’ treat: OK, treats are a bribe but if it makes her bolder, does it matter? Offer her different tasty morsels and see which she pre-furs. Think tuna, chicken, ham, sausage, or cheese in small quantities. Then use this to make yourself more enticing, by dropping the odd treat as you sit quietly.
- Become less threatening: A standing person towers above a cat in an intimidating way. Diffuse the situation by sitting, or better still, lying on the floor. This makes you less of a threat, especially when you look away and seed treats from a hand, and means she much more likely to creep closer.
- Exercise patience: This is an elaboration on step six as you need to be prepared to spend a lot of time on the floor. Perhaps lie on the floor whilst watching TV, or equip yourself with a good book and a coffee, and sit there and wait.
- Let her come to you: Let the cat approach, sniff, and explore, without you making a move toward her. When she approaches, if you don’t spook her, she’ll gain confidence and be more inclined to do so again. You risk scaring her off if you make a big fuss at this point, so play it low key.
Meet your Cat’s Needs
A happy cat is a confident cat. By meeting all her physical and behavioral needs she will feel more settled and open to friendship.
- Hiding places: Offering hiding places to a cat you want to befriend may sound counter-intuitive, but it works. By providing cardboard boxes in all rooms, for her to hide in, builds her confidence because she knows a safe place is never far away.
- High perches: Cats like to watch what’s going on from a height advantage. Provide tall cat towers for her to perch on and she’ll feel safer and be more content. In turn, this means she’s better disposed to life in general and therefore to you.
- Plenty of resources: Eliminate worry about where the next meal is coming from by providing regular and predictable mealtimes. If you have several cats, put several food bowls around the house so that no one cat can bully the others over food. Also, know that cats prefer their food bowls to be distant from water.
- Safe place to toilet: Nothing stresses a cat more than fear of bullying when using the litter box, or having to use a dirty tray. Provide one tray per cat plus one spare, and place them in different locations. Also, no cat likes using a dirty tray so if you can’t stay on top of pooper scooping, invest in an automatic litter box.
- Opportunity to display normal behaviors: A cat that can show her full range of natural behaviors is a happier cat. Provide plenty of scratch posts (one near her bed, and beside entrances and exits) along with opportunities to climb and plenty of play.
- Pheromones: Synthetic feline facial pheromones are a way to send out a subliminal message that the world (or your home at least) is a safe place. Using Feliway diffusers can help alleviate anxiety and make a cat feel more settled.
- MORE PATIENCE – Follow all the steps, and apply them day after day. Know that less is more and patience will win the day so pull it all together and wait…
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