Although they have a longstanding reputation as being standoffish, research has found that cats can establish a strong bond with their owners, just like dogs. All it takes is knowing what makes your cat tick and how to coax their love to come to the surface.
1) Let your cat come to you.
Unlike attention-loving dogs, many cats aren’t too keen about being approached for a snuggle session! But that doesn’t mean that they don’t want your attention — they just prefer to be in control of the situation. “The optimum way to get a cat to show love is to let them decide that there’s loving to be had,” says Galaxy. “So you know, creating an environment with them where they want to come up and do things and to receive physical affection.” When your cat comes to you for some petting, you’ll know she really wants it!
2) Enjoy some interactive play.
One of the best ways to improve your relationship with your cat? Play with him! “A core element of this relationship is to allow them to be who they are, that hunter, and use that as that moment to bond,” he says. Interactive play, like waving around a toy like a fishing pole with a feather while the cat chases it, is a good place to start. To ensure a repeat session, consider rewarding your kitty with some treats at the end of your play time. “Do it in a way that every day they look forward to it,” he adds. Soon, your cat will be begging for you to play!
Just like humans, every cat is different, but for many, giving them a full-body pet can quickly go south. “Once we get below the neck, a lot of cats are prone to petting-induced overstimulation,” explains Galaxy. “That’s where all of these hair follicle receptors live. Your cat will register pleasure, but a lot of times these receptors don’t shut down, so that pleasure turns to irritation.” Watch for signs like a swishing or twitching tail or back spasms as a sign that your cat needs a break from petting. A better bet: Consider petting your cat on the face, on the head or on the neck, which are home to a lot of a cat’s scent glands. “A cat also shows love by scent marking you, like the head-butt or rubbing a cheek into you when you present your finger,” he says. (Click through for Galaxy’s explanation of another odd cat behavior: pulling hair out)
3) Look for the ‘cat hug’.
A tell-tale sign that your kitty feels comfortable around you: She’ll showcase what Galaxy calls “the cat hug.” “It’s when a cat is near you or on the floor, and they roll over on their back and just show you their belly,” he says. Though it’s not necessarily an invitation to rub or pet their belly like it would be for a dog, this form of communication speaks volumes. Since cats are both predator and prey animals, it means that they are allowing themselves to be vulnerable around you. “It is that way of saying ‘I’m showing it to you because I trust you — hence, I love you,'” he adds. (Is your cat’s belly looking pudgier than you remember? Click through to see if it’s just her primordial pouch.)
Check out more tips from Galaxy on his YouTube channel: