How to Bond with Your Cat: 12 Vet-Approved Options

cat looking man's chin
Image Credit: Magui RF, Shutterstock
Last Updated on November 16, 2023 by Christian Adams

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Dr. Paola Cuevas

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Owning a cat is one of life’s great pleasures, but sometimes, it can feel like we need them more than they need us. It can even feel like we’re burdening them with our presence — not that they’d tolerate unwanted affection for long.

However, that may not be true. There’s evidence that cats bond with their humans even more than dogs do, so your kitty may be just as eager to develop a stronger relationship with you.

If you want to forge a closer bond with your cat, you’re in luck. There are ways you can get closer to your feline friend that are actually backed by science.

The ideas on this list have been proven to bring people and cats closer together, and they can improve the relationship between you and your pet. Just don’t be surprised that if after putting these tips into practice, you can’t get your cat to leave you alone anymore.


The 12 Tips to Bond With Your Cat

1. Only Pet Them in the Approved Places

Cats, like semi-trucks, have “no zones” — places where you’d better not be if you value your life. While these spots can vary from cat to cat, for the most part, you’ll find that cats like to be petted in the same spots every time.

Between the ears is an excellent spot to pet, whereas around the tail is an area that’s best left alone. If you only pet your cat in places that they appreciate, they’ll be more likely to want to spend more time with you.

petting a cat
Image Credit: Pixabay

2. Act Like a Cat

Who understands cats more than other cats? Hopefully, scientists do, because they recommend approaching your cat the way that another feline would.

The great thing about this is that cats communicate by sniffing nose-to-nose and even booping one another on the sniffer! That means you can let your cat come up to you, smell your hand, and then gently press on their nose, and they’ll actually like it (of course, they’ll like it even more if you have tuna on your hands).

3. Come Bearing Gift

This one likely comes as no surprise to experienced cat owners, but cats love being around you more when you have food or toys with you. Cats seem to prefer interacting with people around mealtime or while playing, so you should totally try to buy your cat’s love.

This can go too far, of course. Don’t let your cat become overweight due to your bonding efforts, and respect their decision if they don’t feel like playing. Otherwise, though, you can use a snack and a feather to create a wonderful bonding experience for the both of you.

russian blue cat eating a treat
Image Credit: DSchmidtArt, Shutterstock

4. Know When to Step Away

This one also seems obvious, but it’s worth stating. Cats don’t like to be around people who mistreat them, even in a joking manner. While you may think that you’re just being playful by teasing them, they may resent it.

That goes for ignoring them as well. Cats greatly prefer the company of people who interact with them in a loving manner, so give your cat high-quality attention as often as possible.

5. Blink at Them

Cats look at your eyes to get a gauge of your emotional state, and they view slow blinking as a form of positive communication. If you want to tell your cat that you love them, look into their eyes and perform a series of slow blinks, followed by keeping your eyes half-closed.

Sound familiar? That’s likely because you’ve seen your cat perform this exact same sequence before. It’s their way of letting you know that they love, trust, and accept you.

man petting a cat
Image Credit: Pixabay

6. Let Them Come to You

If it seems like your cat plays hard to get, that’s because they do — and they don’t necessarily want you acting desperate to gain their favor. One study found that human-cat interactions were generally more successful when the cat initiated the interaction rather than the other way around.

That same study also showed that most successful interactions were shorter in nature, so if you’re fortunate enough to have your cat wander over to you for affection, don’t press your luck by trying to draw the experience out.

7. Give Them Their Own Hideout

This won’t directly improve your bonding, but giving your cat someplace to hide is important for their mental wellbeing. If they have a hideout that they can escape to when they feel stressed, it will make them more comfortable in their environment.

Once your cat feels truly comfortable in your home, they’ll be more likely to want to make friends inside it too. That bodes well for you — unless you have an irresistible roommate, that is.

DIY Crochet Cat Sack Hideaway
Image Credit: dreamalittlebigger

8. Keep a Regular Routine

Cats are creatures of habit, and they become dependent on a reliable routine. In fact, cats may even get sick if their routines get interrupted, so it’s important to keep things as dependable as possible.

Once your cat sees that you can be trusted to feed them and go to bed at set times, for example, they’ll realize that they can trust you — and they’ll only befriend someone they trust.

9. Understand That Every Cat Is an Individual

“Cats” aren’t a monolithic group — each one is different from the next. They all have their own quirks and personality traits, so try to learn what makes yours tick.

Don’t assume that just because most cats like a certain thing, your cat will. If something’s not working for them, stop doing it and find something that they like instead. Ultimately, it’s up to you to find the best way to bond with your cat, regardless of what science might say about It.

cat in grass_Winessyork, Shutterstock
Image Credit: Winessyork, Shutterstock

10. Observation

This bonding option is less about observing their body language and more about observing just who your cat is. The easiest way to encourage the bond between you and your pet is doing things your cat likes, so watch them and figure out exactly what it is they love.

Most likely, your kitty has a favorite type of treat, a toy they drag around everywhere, and a favorite area of the house they spend the most time in. With the knowledge you gain from observing your pet, you can play with them with the toys they like best or make the area of the house they enjoy more cat-friendly.

a cat playing with toys
Image Credit: winni-design, Shutterstock

11. Play in a Focused Way

Yes, you play with your cat, but are you playing with them while you also watch television, or are you focused on the play you’re doing? Setting aside just 10 minutes at least two times a day to focus on playing and interacting with your kitty will do much to strengthen your bond. Figure out which toys they love most and engage with your pet using them. It’s another instance where your cat will learn to associate fun with you.

Playing is an important part of keeping your cat mentally and physically engaged, and a great toy will make it much easier. We like Hepper's Catnip Stick Toys because they're sturdy enough to handle intense play and completely filled with organic catnip. You'll love the fun range of pastel colors and your cat will enjoy the prey-like shape!

Hepper Catnip Stick Toy

At Excited Cats, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

12. Training

Often pet owners don’t think of cats as being trainable, but they are (though some breeds more so than others). And training can be a fabulous way to bond with your cat as it strengthens how you communicate with each other and is often fun for both of you. Since cats are very food-motivated, using treats is an excellent way to train them. Once they’ve received a treat as a reward for a particular behavior, they’ll begin to associate the two. If your cat isn’t big on treats, you can reward them with play or plenty of praise.

maine coon cat having treat
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

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Build a Healthy Relationship With Your Cat, One Day at a Time

There’s nothing worse than not having the relationship that you want with your cat, but in most cases, it’s only a temporary problem. By using science to your advantage, you can bring your cat around sooner or later. They may even thank you by putting a dead mouse in your shoe!

Featured Image Credit: Magui RF, Shutterstock

About the Author

Christian Adams
Christian Adams
Christian is the Editor-in-Chief of Excited Cats and one of its original and primary contributors. A lifelong cat lover, now based in South East Asia, Christian and his wife are the proud parents of an 11-year-old son and four rescue cats: Trixie, Chloe, Sparky, and Chopper.

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