A woman encourages a cat to socialize
A woman encourages a cat to socialize. Photography by Stocked House Studio/Shutterstock.

Cat Introduction: 8 Tips for How to Introduce Yourself to a Cat

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I just spent three days at a pet bloggers’ conference where I met five cats — and about a bazillion dogs, and even a few ferrets. Now I’m visiting with my sister, who is the proud slave of two gorgeous cats. Having met all these new cats got me thinking about the importance of proper introductions between humans and cats. Here are a few tips on the art of the cat introduction — how to introduce yourself to a cat for the first time.

1. Get Down to Her Level

A cat guy or cat daddy with a fluffy brown cat.
Ensure your cat introduction starts off on the right foot by getting down to the cat’s level. Photography by Westend61 GmbH | Alamy Stock Photo.

Sit on the floor during the cat introduction. Think about it: You’re five to six times taller than a cat, and anybody would have cause to be nervous in the presence of someone so big. You’ll be less threatening if you make yourself smaller.

2. Give Her the Finger

No, not that finger. Reach your hand toward the cat with your index finger slightly extended and allow her to come to you. The first thing she’ll probably do is sniff the end of your finger. This gesture is similar to the nose-touch that cats do to introduce themselves to one another.

3. Let Her Take the Lead

The cat might next rub her head on your hand. That indicates that this cat introduction is going well — so far. Don’t rush to pet her, though; if you move too fast, you may scare her away.

4. Don’t Stare at Cat — It’s Rude

Remember when your mother told you not to stare at people because it’s impolite? The same thing is true for cats. In cat language, staring is a sign of aggressive confrontation. Don’t be afraid to look at the cat, but don’t maintain eye contact for long periods of time, either.

5. Watch Her Body Language

Each cat has places she prefers to be petted and places she’d prefer not to be touched. Keep an eye on subtle gestures including tail motion, stares or rapid head-turning. These might indicate that the cat is becoming overstimulated. A cat that gets too wound up may claw or even bite to make the uncomfortable interaction stop.

6. Listen to Her Caretaker

If you’re visiting a friend who has cats, ask that person about the types and locations of touching the cat prefers. Observant cat parents understand their cats and will give you tips to help you to make a good impression.

7. You May Need to Reintroduce Yourself to a Cat You’ve Met Before

Even if you’ve met the cat before, you might need to reintroduce yourself. You might smell different, look different or act different, so kitty might need some time to find out that you’re a safe person. The cat might have changed, too. The first time I met my sister’s cat, Pedro, he was all over me. On this visit, though, he’s been more circumspect. Instead of treating him as though I’ve known him forever, I’m taking it slow.

8. Don’t Go Away Mad, Just Go Away

Sometimes a cat won’t want to interact with you at all. Don’t force the issue, and don’t take it personally. The cat doesn’t hate you; it’s just that for whatever reason, at that time, the cat would prefer that you stay back. If you respect these wishes, the cat is more likely to approach you with a positive attitude and a feeling of safety.

Every cat comes equipped with a personality, and as long as you understand and respect a cat’s wishes about how to be approached and where and when to be touched, you’ll have a much better relationship. Whether it’s a quick fling at a conference, a vacation visit with a friend or even a first date at the animal shelter, follow this advice and you’ll be a cat friend for life.

Thumbnail: Photography by Stocked House Studio/Shutterstock.

Tell us: What are your tips for a successful cat introduction? What have people done wrong when meeting your cats? What have you done right (or wrong!) when introducing yourself to a cat for the first time?

Read more about understanding cats on Catster.com:

4 thoughts on “Cat Introduction: 8 Tips for How to Introduce Yourself to a Cat”

  1. Pingback: Why Does My Cat Follow Me Everywhere? – Kotikmeow

  2. Hello.
    Thanks for the article. There’s one thing that you didn’t put in there which surprised me. The absolute winner -the ‘slow blink’. I use it with new cats even cats i approach on the street and its a cracker. I very slowly close my eyes and then very very slowly ooen them again. Also i hold them closed for a second in between. This slow blink you will see cats doing to other cats. Its a sign of submission -(like when a dig rolls onto her back around people or other dogs )- and thus it says: ‘I am no threat to you i surrender’. I cant ciunt hiw many cats I’ve disarmed this way.
    Recently a friend introduced me to a stray he has been feeding and trying to get close to for ages. He warned me she probably wont come near to me.
    I sat on the ground as you suggested. Then began slow slow blinking at her. She just trotted over to me. Just like that. My friend had learnt none of these skills andit had take him much longer to get her near.
    Then -just like you suggested do wisely – i did not follow that success uo with pushing it. I still let her rub up on my hand and didnt start grabbing at her.
    It magic. Thanks for the article. I got even more outips from it
    Susan

  3. Very important is the slow blink. It’s a submissive gesture in body language. You can’t attack a cat with your eyes closed but the cat can attack you. It says you’re not a threat. It tells the cat it’s the boss (it already knows that, it wants to be sure you know it).

    Let the cat come to you. To you it may seem rude to make the cat do all the work, but cats like things to be entirely under their control. Even if the cat heads towards you, resist the urge to help close the gap, because that will seem threatening.

    If the cat comes to you, when the cat decides it’s time to leave then let the cat leave. OTOH, if the cat keeps walking away then coming back, it probably wants you to fol.low it (Timmy is trapped down the well).

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