When you pick out a cat, most of them may seem to ignore you. However, there may be one kitty that purrs and comes to you. So why is it that one cat will choose you while others may have a don’t-even-come-close look?
If a cat chooses you, it means that the cat has decided you would make a good companion. Cats think of us as large cats rather than humans that need to be pleased. So, if you want to get a cat to choose you, you need to think like a cat.
Of course, if a group of cats is starving and you show up with food, most of them will come to you. Once they’ve been fed, however, they’ll likely go their merry way, aside from any cats that have imprinted onto you.
So let’s explore this in more detail and I’ll explain why cats choose certain people and provide you with tips to help you get a cat to like you.
Cats Think of Humans as Large Cats
Research suggests that cats think of us like other cats. Unlike dogs, who change their behavior as soon as they see you, cats don’t change their behavior just because you showed up. Just like you don’t stop doing what you’re doing when another person walks into the room, neither will a cat.
People often say that cats are aloof, but, from a cat’s viewpoint, you’re just another cat that has walked into the room.
Cats Pick Humans That Will Make Good Companions
Just like we pick friends who we will get along with, cats pick humans who they want to have as a friend or companion. If we’re outgoing, we tend to hang out with others who also don’t mind being in a crowd.
Researchers who have studied cat behavior have observed distinct personality types. These include:
- Human Cat
- The Cat’s Cat
- Inquisitive Cat
- Cantankerous Cat
A Human Cat is more comfortable around people than a Cantankerous One, while the Inquisitive Cat explores everything. The Hunter loves playing with realistic toys and constantly seems to be on the prowl.
The Cat’s Cat, on the other hand, loves the company of other cats. You’ll know these by the fact that they’re the ones grooming and playing with other cats.
Additionally, just like you sometimes want your friends to leave you alone, a cat wants the same. When a cat ignores you, it doesn’t mean it is mad at you. It just wants some “me” time.
Here’s a video on Youtube as proof of that:
Tips for Making a Cat Like You
Knowing what a cat looks for in a companion will be easier to make a cat like you. These tips will help you convince a cat you love to fall in love with you as well.
1. Don’t Make the First Move
Instead of trying to force a relationship, let the cat instigate it.
Cats tend to be skittish because something has alerted their fight or flight instinct. To avoid injuries in the wild, cats have developed a strong instinct to avoid danger, and a new person can set off alarm bells.
For example, an abused cat might associate you with the abuser. But even cats who haven’t been abused can react with alarm when suddenly confronted with new sights, sounds, and smells. So don’t rush over to a cat, but instead, give it time to realize you aren’t a danger.
If you have your heart set on a cat and rush over to pet it, you’ll immediately set off those alarm bells.
2. Get the Cat To Trust You
Here are some tips to keep in mind to get a cat to trust you:
- Predictability: Establish routines and stick to them. You don’t need to be a robot and always let your cat out at the same time, but if you feed your cat when you eat, then do so whether you are eating at 5:00 or 6:30.
- Don’t stay mad: Being mad at someone we care for is part of life. If your cat does something that makes you mad, it’s okay to let them know. However, if you stay angry at them, they’ll think you no longer like them.
- Ensure they’re okay: Cats want to know that you’ll take care of them. Ensure they don’t get hungry, give them some quality time, and take them to the vet if they’re hurt.
Trust is important in any relationship, including those we have with our pets.
3. Let the Cat Decide When To Move On
No matter whether you’re having snuggle time or playing a game if your cats want to move on, let them. A familiar question cat owners get is who is the boss – you or the cat? In a way, the question makes sense, as cats aren’t trainable in the same way that dogs are.
It’s important to remember that cats don’t think of us as owners. Instead, we’re companions, and when they’re tired of being petted or playing, they want to be treated like one.
If you force cats to play, all you’re doing is annoying them.
4. Pet the Cats Where They Want To Be Pet
Just like some kids don’t like having their heads tussled, cats have preferences where they like to be pet. If you try to pet a cat and they walk away or ignore you, take that as a signal that they don’t want to be there.
Try these places first:
- The back of the head.
- Under the chin.
- Strokes down their back.
Avoid the following until a cat gets to know you:
- The area near the tail.
- Their stomach.
Be careful to avoid over-stimulating your cat with excessive petting. These signs indicate that your cat is ready for you to stop:
- Dramatic movements of the tail.
- A change in ear positions.
- The purring stops.
Check out this YouTube video for a better understanding of where cats like to be pet:
The day that your cats turn over on their back and let you pet them on their stomach is a special day, as it signals they feel safe around you.
5. Avoid Scents Cats Won’t Like
There are some scents cats don’t like, and even if you don’t smell them, a cat will. Cats have over 200 million odor sensors, which is 14 times more than we do. So if cats get even a whiff of an odor they don’t like, they get annoyed.
Strong perfumes are often a turnoff, especially if they contain odors that they aren’t fond of or are dangerous. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Cats don’t like the smell of citruses, such as lemon or orange.
- They avoid the scent of poisonous plants, such as eucalyptus, onion, and garlic.
- They also don’t like peppers and other heavily scented foods.
Interestingly, cats have less than 500 taste buds (we have 9,000), so they don’t much care what their food tastes like but how well it smells.
6. Play Games the Cat Will Like
You don’t necessarily need expensive toys to get a cat interested in playing.
Cats prefer to play with prey-like toys, such as those with feathers, which are furry and can be carried in their mouths. If you try to get them to play with something they’re not interested in, or when they don’t feel like playing, they’ll simply end up ignoring you and walking away.
7. Use Appropriate Eye Contact
Eye contact that is appropriate for humans isn’t acceptable for your cat. We value eye contact, and if a person refuses to make that contact, we assume they’re being dishonest or dislike us.
Cats feel the opposite, as they interpret direct eye contact as aggressive or intimidating. To resolve a conflict, cats will often try to outstare one another.
But this instinct has a different effect on humans, who are much larger.
As a cat gets comfortable with a person, eye contact is no longer seen as threatening. Many people will “blink kiss” their cats, which is a slow, deliberate blink while looking at the cat. Some cats will “blink kiss” back, but many will be glad you stopped staring.
However, this should only be done once a cat is comfortable with you, and not when you’re trying to attract their attention.
If a cat chooses you, they’ve decided that you would make a good companion. The more you understand how a cat thinks, the greater the likelihood that you’ll be able to draw a cat’s attention, rather than simply waiting for one of them to choose you.
- National Geographic: What Do Cats Think About Us? You May Be Surprised
- Britannica: Animal Learning–Imprinting
- Today I Found Out: A Group of Cats is Called a “Clowder’
- Wildlife Animal Control: Domestic vs. Wild Cats
- Pet MD: Best Places to Pet a Cat
- Pet MD: Which Personality Does Your Cat Have?
- Paws Chicago: Cat Senses
- The Nest: How to Repel Cats With Citrus
- Youtube: Where Do Cats Like To Be Petted?
- Youtube: Cat ignoring me
- Wildlife Education & Directory of Wildlife Experts: Shared behavior of domesticated and wild cats
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.