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

A woman encourages a cat to socialize
A woman encourages a cat to socialize. Photography by Stocked House Studio/Shutterstock.
Last Updated on October 23, 2023 by Catster Editorial Team

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 Cats — 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?

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About the Author

JaneA Kelley
JaneA Kelley

JaneA is the webmaster and chief cat slave for Paws and Effect, an award-winning cat advice blog written by her cats, for cats and their people. She is a professional member of the Cat Writers’ Association, and has been a speaker at the BlogPaws and Cat Writers’ Association conferences. In addition to blogging about cats, JaneA writes contemporary urban fantasy, and whatever else strikes her fancy.

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