Ritu just brought home a new kitten and she is quite excited about Rosie. Yet, Rosie appears to be afraid of Ritu and runs into hiding each time she comes near.
Ritu’s problem is a common one with cats as building a bond with felines is hard work. While some cats make it easier it's tough with others. Misconceptions about cat personalities are many - they’re unsocial, they don’t bond as well as dogs, they’re not very emotional, etc. Studies prove otherwise.
Cats form deep bonds with humans
Research from Oregon State University shows that cats are able to form secure and long-lasting bonds with their humans. When they develop a close relationship with their owners as kittens it lasts all through adulthood too.
That said, cats are famous for being standoffish unlike dogs. But worry not. Behavioral scientists have a few tips that can help owners lay the foundation for a successful human-cat relationship. Here are a few.
Slowly blink at them
New research shows that one of the best ways to bond with a cat is to narrow your eyes and blink at them slowly. Psychologists at the University of Sussex observed many interactions between cats and humans and saw that cats narrow their eyes and blink slowly when they are relaxed and content. Humans display a similar expression in our stress-free moments too. Initiating the slow blink, which is akin to a cat smile, endears you more to the cat and enhances the bond with them. Try it out at home with your cat!
Play and engage with them - a lot more than you think
Everyone associates themselves with play and fun when it comes to dogs. But it’s not the same with cats. One of the biggest causes for behavioral issues in cats is boredom due to the lack of play. Cats are highly intelligent beings and need constant stimulation, which many of us don’t realize.
Playing with your cat regularly and for long periods gives them an outlet for their energy. Plus, research shows that cats prefer human interaction over food and toys, which busts the myth that felines are not sociable or are averse to training.
A Room of Their Own
Living with a cat means you probably have to give up your privacy. The same goes for the cat too. They love to have their own space as shown by this study from James Cook University in Australia. During the lockdown, cats were not particularly fond of spending all those extra hours with their owners. As sociable as they are, cats love to have their own personal space and have a ‘safe zone’ of their own. Cats love to fit themselves into boxes and spend time away from people. Give them their comfort zones and you will soon have a blooming friendship.
Don’t feed your cat too much
All cats want to eat! Of course that's no different than humans. We're happiest when we're fed, and that's not always the case with our feline buddies. We also tend to demonstrate our love for our pets by feeding them - a lot. When cats are bored they look for food which leads to obesity. It’s uncanny how cats mirror humans. Fat cats, just like humans, are not happy. A study from Cornell University proves that cats will love you if you recognize their weight gain and put them on a diet. While cats did beg for meals, they did not show any aggressive behavior and, instead, grew more affectionate.
Building a successful relationship with your cat might take time but not impossibly difficult. All it takes is patience and love. Simply observe your pet, be attuned to their behavior and soon you’ll have a lifelong bond with your cat.