If you have had a furry feline for a while, you know that there are many ways to bond with your cat. This post only discusses two possibilities. Others not discussed here could include playing with your cat, talking to him, sharing your bed, dispensing food and treats, grooming, such as brushing and combing, or giving special attention and praise for activities that deserve comments.
What role does petting your cat play? It’s an excellent way to bond, if you understand the right way to go about it. Read on, and you will learn to use the right petting techniques, and the methods to avoid.
Let Your Cat Take Charge
Perhaps you don’t realize that you can pet the cat the right way or the wrong way. First, you need to
let the cat be in control. Let kitty come to you. He might not want to accept petting at the moment. It
makes no sense to push the issue. He could become annoyed with you, which is not the response you want.
Signs That Petting Can Begin
If the cat comes up to you and rubs your hand or nudges you, take this as a signal that he desires some quality petting.
In my old office, I had a chair right next to mine at the computer, so Pogo could sit next to me while I worked. When he wanted my attention, he’d reach up a paw and tap my arm. That meant he wanted his soft cheeks scratched, and to hear what a good cat he was.
Once I gave him some attention, he’d let me go back to work for a while.
Pet The Cat Appropriately
Please remember these things: First, a cat’s skin can often be quite sensitive, so “gentle” becomes the byword here. Second, if you rub the fur the wrong way, or move your hand back and forth as you might with a dog, the cat most likely will not care for such a technique.
A friend visited who knew dogs, but not cats. She rubbed Pogo hard along his back, and the cat hunkered to the floor and walked out from under the hand. A less patient cat might have slapped her. She learned her first cat-petting lesson.
You will find you make a hit if you scratch the cheeks and around the ears, and rub under the chin. I believe that petting the cat’s back should always be gentle. Do not apply pressure. Also, do not continue for a long time, as the cat may want you to limit your caress.
A Word Of Caution
Do remember that for many cats, petting the stomach belongs on the “forbidden” list. Though some cats love it, many will become defensive or aggressive, or simply leave. After all, the stomach and all the vital organs are under there. If you continue petting that soft, furry tummy, you could find the petting hand collected in the front paws while the cat kicks vigorously with the back ones.
If your cat shows any degree of aggression or discomfort, stop what you are doing immediately. Kitty won’t want you petting him if you push his limits.
The reason why the cheeks, base of ears, and chin make so good a petting choice has to do with facial glands. While you stroke, your cat marks you with his scent glands, saying, “you are mine.”
Just remember that if the cat does not like handling and petting, he will let you know. Pay attention to see if he likes what you do, or if he becomes aggressive or perhaps merely tolerates your advances. If he isn’t really happy with the stroking, he will become stressed.
Does Your Cat Have Favorite Spots Where You Can Scratch?
Let the cat make the choice as to where you pet him. Find out if he shows signs of enjoyment, or if he seems restless or unhappy. If so, stop what you are doing.
Here are some signs the cat enjoys the interaction:
1) Cat initiates contact; tail held upright
2) Purring as well as kneading with his front paws
3) Tail waves gently from side to side
4) Cat’s posture and facial expression relaxed, with ears up and pointed forward
5) Cat nudges you if you pause, asking for more of the same.
Respect your cat’s boundaries when it comes to his feelings about petting. Learn his likes and dislikes and respect those. Back off when he’s had enough. You and your cat will make happy memories in this way.
Outdoor Adventures Are Fun
I got to thinking about my 20 years on Spruce Island, near Kodiak, when I lived on my homestead with three cats and a dog, and for long periods of time we remained the only inhabitants of my little cabin.
What did I do to bond with those pets? Yes, I petted them when we spent evenings alone in the woods, but we had a more important activity — we shared adventures.
On nice days, unless I had to spend part of the day in the village of Ouzinkie, we always found time to spend together. Our adventures often consisted of hiking the trails near the cabin together. All of us found things to enjoy in this outing, and I believe the activity brought us closer than anything else.
We had a favorite spot we visited often. We’d walk out the back door and travel to the end of my lot, where we reached the trail to Pleasant Harbor. Crossing it, we’d continue on a path that led up the hill that rose behind the trail.
Our Special Spot
Here, about halfway to the top of the hill, some trees had been cut long ago, and the several stumps became our first destination. We each had an assigned seat on one of those stumps. The dog would lie down full-length in the moss, where he reveled in the softness and coolness of his bed.
We might sit there for a long time, just enjoying the beautiful day and the companionship we shared. I talked to them, but the important thing remained the shared experience of a together adventure.
I often thought during those times, “I must keep this memory alive to recall when we no longer can share these outings.” Those precious moments would not go on forever.
After we had communed together on the hillside, we often continued walking to the hill-top and to our secret spots that we liked to visit. We all enjoyed these outings a great deal.
Is Your Cat An Indoor Cat?
If so, have you leash trained your cat? Then you can share an outside adventure with your cat by walking together. You will make new discoveries, strengthening the bond between you. Start with explorations close to home, and expand your journey as time goes on.
You can also take your cat visiting. Find a friend with no pets who would not mind if you brought your cat on an outing to your friend’s house. This trip gives you a chance for a good adventure, with many benefits. First, you’ll get the cat more used to riding in a car, and that’s good when the destination is not the vet’s.
Second, you give the kitty a whole new environment to explore. Third, you will help him build some socialization skills.
One word of warning: If you have a very timid cat, such visits might prove too stressful for him. You will have to be the judge.
Shared Experiences Will Enrich Your Relationship
If you can devise a way to share outings and adventures with your animals, these can truly enrich your relationship. You create the groundwork for a greater understanding and rapport with these animals.
Shared adventures lead to closeness. Try to create these and your experiences together will help build strong bonds between you.
References I used for this post: