Cats are notoriously un-thrilled by change, and for some, even leaving the shelter for a “forever home” can be a difficult transition. Your new kitty friend is going to need some time, patience and attention to help her get used to circumstances and to bond with you. Here’s how to bond with your new cat.
1. Let your cat come to you
Your cat is going to want to explore her new home. Give her the time she needs to get comfortable with the smells, sights and sounds. Be available if she wants to explore you, too, but don’t reach out and try to stop her from doing her thing.
2. Play with her
There’s nothing like a good play session with an interactive toy to boost confidence and help her turn her nervous energy into physical exercise. The more you play with your cat, the closer your bond with your new cat will be. But remember, don’t use your hands and fingers as play objects: you don’t want her learn to hunt body parts!
3. Groom her
It’s a great idea to get your cat used to being groomed, especially if she has long hair. Keeping her mat-free will make grooming a pleasurable experience that can bring you and your cat together. Make sure you have a variety of grooming tools on hand; some cats have definite preferences. Short-haired cats generally enjoy being groomed with a slicker brush and a de-shedding tool, while longer-haired cats may need combs or pin brushes.
4. Talk to her
This should be a no-brainer, but the more you talk to your cat, the more she’ll come to recognize and enjoy your voice. I talk to my cats all the time, and I especially love to praise their beauty and noble nature while I’m petting them. I think they see this as the human version of a purr.
5. Train her
People who say that cats are untrainable are just doing it wrong. Cats don’t respond to commands the way dogs do, but they can be convinced to perform tasks if they realize awesome things happen when they comply with your requests. Cats respond very well to clicker training, for example, and Catster resident behaviorist Marilyn Krieger has written an excellent book on how to clicker-train your cat.
6. Give her treats
Treats reinforce all the other bonding techniques. They serve as rewards for accomplishing training tasks, positive reinforcement for accepting your grooming, and prizes after an exciting game of Chase the Feather Toy. Treats can also help your cat decide to approach you in your initial explorations, and they can be a great tool for enticing a shy kitty out from a hiding place. And, of course, treats and catnip parties are a great way to celebrate your kitty’s adoption anniversary! Be careful not to give too many treats, though; treats are usually more calorie-dense and less nutritious than your cat’s regular food.
Tell us: What techniques have you used to bond with your new cat?
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