10 Things You Can Do to Bond With Your Cat

Cats are so adorable that it’s not hard to immediately feel affection for them. As for getting that affection in return, it’s not always immediate… or guaranteed. If you’ve recently brought home a new feline friend, or you’re just looking to strengthen the bond with your existing cat, here are some tips that may come in handy.

Be Patient with New Cats

Scared cat hiding in cat tree

When a cat finds themself in a new environment, it can be a bit overwhelming because they become very comfortable with their routines. This means that when you adopt a new cat, they may be skittish at first. Don’t take it personally, just let them get adjusted in their own time. Provide them places to hide, maybe even a room that’s all their own if you have the space. They’ll come out when they’re ready, and you letting them become comfortable with you in their own time will be a great building block to a trusting relationship.

Offer Plenty of Treats and Praise

Who doesn’t enjoy a little treat or words of affirmation? Cats may not be people, but they’re on board with both of these things, too. Giving your cat treats – in moderation – and praise when they’re being model feline citizens, or just cute, is a good way to get them to associate you with positive feelings. You don’t want to do the opposite, though. Scolding or punishing a cat can break that budding trust. If they’re scratching furniture or jumping on the counter while you’re prepping food, guide them to the right behaviors with kindness and a gentle demeanor.

Play Together

Cats have a reputation for being independent, but anyone who’s spent enough time with them knows that’s hardly true for quite a few of them. So, while you may have toys for them that they can enjoy on their own time, actively playing with them is a great way to nurture their social nature and become more bonded to them. That’s in addition to the physical and mental health benefits of active play. Use a wand toy, play fetch with them, or enjoy a laser pointer. There are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure that laser isn’t frustrating, though. You can learn them here.

Give Training a Try

Cat getting treat during training

You can take the bonding produced from play up a notch by adding some training. There are quite a few cats who aren’t going to be remotely interested, and if yours is one of them, don’t force it. However, if you have a cat who’s receptive to learning a few tricks, or they’re already doing something resembling one, give it a try! Much like dogs, it’s a step-by-step process, involving lots of treats and praise, and you’ll also need to keep training sessions short. Check out some easy tricks you can learn together here!

Give Them Physical Affection They’re Comfortable With

Each cat is definitely his or her own feline, and that can manifest itself in how much physical affection they enjoy. Become aware of which types your cat will accept and which they won’t, and strengthen your bond by giving them affection that makes them comfortable. If they’re not big on being picked up, don’t agitate them by doing so. If they like to be pet in certain spots but get upset when you touch others, focus on the ones they enjoy. If they’re big on brushing or grooming, regular short sessions can endear you to them. There are some cats who just enjoy being near you, not necessarily being touched. For them, just sit nearby for comfort. Whatever you’re doing, though, be calm, gentle, and speak to them softly so you feel like a safe space.

Be Attentive Without Pushing Yourself on Them

Another thing to keep in mind is that cats may not want to be around you as consistently as you want to be around them. That’s why you should let them come to you if they’re interested. Let them remain solitary if they’re not showing any interest in hanging out. If they leave a room for some alone time, don’t follow. You should be especially mindful to give them space if they show signs of agitation: ears back, tail moving rapidly, or huge pupils. Respecting their autonomy is a great way to endear yourself to them.

Give Them Kitty Kisses

Cat slow blinking

While you may give your cat human kisses, if they tolerate them, they also have their own version of affection often called a “kitty kiss.” This is when they slowly blink at you. The gesture communicates that they feel comfortable with you, they trust you, and that you’re a safe space. Return the message with your own slow blink. It’s like blowing kisses!

Join Them in Their Hobbies

When you want your human loved ones to know you care, you’ll take an interest in their interests. You can try the same thing with your cat! Pay attention to their favorite toys and play with that toy with them. Watch “cat TV” by sitting at the window with them while they keep an eye on the birds. If there’s a room they like the most, and they’re open to some company, join them! There’s nothing better for a pair of buddies than having fun in each other’s company.

Chat With Them

When your cat meows at you, do you often respond with some variation of “I know” or “Oh no, that sounds terrible”? Do you also occasionally sing songs to them? (Come on, we all do it.) It may seem silly, but chatting with your feline friend can help grow your bond, too! Cats can take comfort in your voice, especially if you speak to them in soft, soothing tones. You can even get them to understand certain words, like “dinner”, the all-important “treats”, and any verbal cues for training. Who says you can’t speak each other’s language?

Hang Out in the Same Room

Housecat sitting on sofa

As mentioned before, there are some cats who just won’t end up being overly affectionate. They may not like being pet, cuddled, held, or fawned over. Those kitties can still appreciate companionship, though. Just sitting in a room with them, if they’re comfortable with you there, can be enough for many of them. The proximity with respect for their bubble can facilitate trust, if nothing else!

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