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How to Bond with Your Cat & Show Them Affection

People tend to make broad generalizations about cats. They'll state that all cats are aloof, or that felines are not cuddly creatures. In truth, every cat has his or her unique personality. Some will rub against every human they meet and beg for attention. Others are loners and they may "permit" humans to occasionally pet them, but only on their terms.

In 2016, researchers performed personality tests on approximately 3,000 cats. What they discovered is that cats have five specific traits that make up their personalities. They are:

  1. Skittishness: Cats who scored high in this category tended to be anxious or fearful, while calm felines scored low.
  2. Outgoingness: High-scoring cats were more "extroverted" than those scoring lower.
  3. Dominance: Cats with high scores are more dominant, while those that scored lower were more submissive.
  4. Spontaneity: High-scoring cats were more impulsive. Lower-scoring cats were more predictable and consistent in their behaviors.
  5. Friendliness: Cats who scored high tend to be more affectionate, while lower-scoring cats were more likely to be loners and/or irritable.

If you're trying to figure out how to bond with your cat, it might be helpful to understand his or her personality traits. For example, a feline that is outgoing and scores high in friendliness will probably enjoy being held. So, that would be an appropriate method to use to bond with that cat. On the other hand, picking up and holding a skittish feline could alarm them, so holding would be an inappropriate way to bond.

Ways to bond with your cat

Did you recently welcome a new cat into your family that seems standoffish, even afraid? Have you been asking your fellow cat owners, "Do you know how to make my cat more cuddly or how to make my cat love me?" If so, please understand that your cat probably does love you. He or she just might not exhibit their feelings for you with loud purrs and long cuddles because that's not their love language. Instead, he or she may be showing affection by sitting close to you or in the same room.

Another reason your cat may not seem cuddly or affectionate? If you adopted a cat (and not a kitten), there's a possibility that he or she wasn’t socialized properly as a kitten. Kittens need to be handled by humans on a regular basis before they are ten weeks old. So, if your cat didn't have human interaction until after ten weeks of age, he or she may not respond immediately to your overtures of love. Don't give up. With patience, you may be able to form a loving bond with your feline by following these suggestions on how to make your cat more social:

Allow your cat to make the first move

If you have a skittish or shy cat, let him come to you on his terms. Don't try to force interaction. Why? Because cats are infamous for ignoring people who want to engage with them. On the other hand, felines seem to enjoy making their presence known at the most inconvenient times. For example, have you ever noticed that when you're working diligently on your computer and paying no attention to your cat, that is typically when he or she will suddenly demand your full time and attention?

Play with your cat

Cats, especially young ones, can get bored if not provided with daily mental and physical stimulation. It's important to remember that while your feline may be your sweet baby, he or she is still a smart and cunning predator at heart. In the wild, your cat would be stalking, chasing, and pouncing on prey. Indoor cats lack that type of stimulation, so it's up to you to play with them and engage them in activities that will allow them to practice their hunting skills. For example, use a fishing pole-style toy to drag a small stuffed animal in front of your cat, so he or she can chase and catch it. Playtime is one of the best ways to spend quality time with your feline best friend.

Give your cat a treat during bonding times

If you have a food-motivated cat, give her a little treat after picking her up or before petting her. In time, she should associate being fed with these activities. Of course, you don't want to end up with an overweight feline, so use a portion of your cat's daily meals as the treat.

Never stare your cat in the eye

When humans fall in love, they might stare lovingly into one another's eyes. To a cat, however, an intense stare is a form of dominance and may even feel like an act of aggression. So, if you don't want to come across as threatening, it's best to avoid extended eye contact with your cat.

Listen to your cat

Just like humans, cats have different ideas about what type of touching is appropriate. So, yes, your last cat may have enjoyed a belly rub, but if your new feline bites you or hisses at you when you try the same thing, respect his or her wishes and avoid touching the stomach.

Massage or groom your cat

If your cat enjoys being brushed, take time each day to bond through gentle grooming sessions. You may also want to try and lightly massage your feline.

Choose the right time

As with many things in life, picking the right time is critical when trying to bond with your cat. For example, you'll want to avoid using grooming as a bonding technique if your kitten is wound up and has the "zoomies." That would just frustrate both of you.

Do cats get more affectionate with age?

Is your young cat or kitten a wild child who hates to sit quietly in your lap? Do you have a skittish feline who seems to always keep you at an arm's distance? If so, you're probably hoping that your cat will mellow or get friendlier with age. Depending on your cat's personality type, your wish may not come true. Just like humans, some cats will never be cuddlers or snugglers.

It may take a little work and time to form a loving bond with your cat. Once you do, it will be worth every second you spent just to have your sweet cat purring contentedly in your lap or by your side.


Lizz Caputo is a Content Strategist at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.

Protect your pet from the unexpected with Figo Pet Insurance, rated “Best Pet Insurance” by Reviews.com since 2017.

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