If you are anything like me, you know that social contact can be positive or negative. Your cat feels the same way. One of the best ways to enrich your cat’s life is to spend time together. As little as five minutes, twice a day, can make a big difference for your cat.
No one knows your cat better than you! So pick the activity that your cat likes best. For some cats, this might mean a precious cuddle or grooming session. For others, this is playtime!
There is an art to connecting with your cat, and these tips can help.
We start by understanding the social nature of cats. Cats are most secure when they have a sense of control over their social interactions. Let your cat make the first move and initiate physical contact. This will give her the sense of security she needs to enjoy your physical time together. For some cats, this might mean a brief and delicate stroking; for others it is a full-on cuddle.
Respect your cat’s privacy when he is sleeping, hiding or perching in a high place. This is your cat’s way of telling you he needs some “alone time.” Allowing your cat privacy when he needs it will help build his sense of security and confidence when he is ready for social interaction.
Active play with your cat has lots of benefits. This is a great time for you to bond with your cat. Play can help a shy cat build confidence and help a mischievous cat have a positive way to release energy. Aim for at least 5 minutes twice a day.
Bonus! While you are bonding, your cat is getting great exercise.
Games that mimic hunting are a great release for your cat’s natural predatory instincts to hunt, catch, and play! To maximize your cat’s fun, make the toy act like prey. One of the most common play mistakes is to come at your cat with a toy. Instead, think like prey! Start with the toy near your cat and help it flee from your cat, varying speed and direction– ducking under furniture, and dashing around corners. At the end of each hunt, let your cat catch the toy and savor victory before the next adventure.
Cats are hardwired to stay excited when they hunt, catch, and play. They know that the hunt is over when they catch and eat their prey–this is their signal to relax. You can work with your cat’s natural instincts to complete this cycle and end playtime with a cat who is satisfied and relaxed. When you decide playtime is over, let your cat catch her final prey and reward your hunter with a treat. You have just fulfilled feline bliss!
This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT