All About Cats

Part IV - Create Positive Experiences Through Play

Every cat is a kitten at heart

Once the cat is eating comfortably with you in the room, move on to creating positive play experiences. We recommend using an interactive toy, such as a Cat Dancer, Da Bird, or Cat Charmer. Catnip can also be used to help the cat relax and feel more at ease. (Beware, though, as catnip excites or agitates some cats.)

Set the toy gently near your cat to let him get used to it. Do not shove it towards him, or place it too close at first – you want the cat to approach the toy on his own. Once he seems comfortable with the object, slowly pick up the toy and use it to stroke your cat gently, beginning with the cheeks and head. The TOY is petting the cat, not you. (This particular step is best done with a Cat Charmer, as you can wrap the fleece ribbon around the stick to create a soft petting tool.) 

From there, you can try several different techniques – you may need to experiment to see which works best with your cat. In the first approach, as your new cat becomes more comfortable with being touched by the toy, move your hand closer to the cat along the toy until you are eventually touching the cat with your hand instead of the toy. If your cat is more receptive to play, then use the toy in a playful manner to slowly lure the cat near you. When the cat is comfortable coming near you while playing, give him a quick pet as you continue to play. The key is to keep playing so she associates fun and positive feelings with human touch. As the cat continues to make progress while you are playing with her, you can stop the play for a few moments to pet her, then continue to play. Keep lengthening these pauses gradually over time.

Regardless of the approach you use, always start petting on the cheeks and the top of the head, then progress slowly to the rest of the body. Increase petting gradually, depending on how much the cat will tolerate. Do not approach from directly above the head, since this may make the cat feel cornered and may trigger a bite.

Once the cat is allowing you to pet him all over the body, try moving the cat a little closer to you by holding the cat with one hand and continuing petting with the other. After doing this for a few minutes, release the cat but continue petting with one hand. You can move the cat closer to you each time.

Now that you've progressed through the steps, you can either review them by returning to the main socialization page, or, if you have questions, you can contact us for guidance. Good luck!