How Can I Make My Cat Love Me?

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person petting cat with hearts

If you have a new cat who’s a little shy, you might be wondering how to help him warm up to you.

Don’t worry — it might take some time, but you can make your cat love you if you just follow a few steps.

The Dodo spoke to Dr. Sarah Wooten, a veterinary journalist and veterinarian with Pumpkin Pet Insurance, to find out how to make a cat love you (and how to get him to actually enjoy cuddling).

JUMP TO: How do I know if my cat loves me? | How do I get my cat to cuddle with me? | How do I show my cat I love him?

Be calm

Animals can very easily pick up on people’s energy and emotions, so it’s important for you to stay calm and not stress out or get annoyed with your cat.

“If you are feeling nervous or frustrated, be sure that your cat will know it and will be less likely to want to interact physically,” Dr. Wooten told The Dodo. “Breathe, calm yourself, exude peace and talk slowly and quietly.”

Let your cat approach you

Unlike with dogs, who typically love having new friends pet them, cats usually don’t like being approached first. You should let your cat come to you on his own time. Forcing him to play or cuddle will only stress him out and possibly even make him scared of you.

You can put your hand out to let him sniff it, and if he comes over, try petting his head. If he doesn’t approach you or walks away, let him leave and try again later.

Move slowly

Cats are much smaller than people, so get on your cat’s level and move slowly so you don’t scare him.

“Cats are also very threatened by sudden movements by larger mammals such as ourselves, so move slowly around your cat and don’t hover over or grab your cat,” Dr. Wooten said. “This will allow your cat to build confidence around you.”

Don’t stare at your cat

You might want to watch what your cat does all day long because he’s just so cute. But many animals see direct eye contact as a threat, so try not to look right at your cat, especially if he’s not comfortable around you yet.

“Direct staring is considered a threatening gesture in the mind of a cat, so avert your eyes, don’t stare directly into your cat’s eyes, and blink slowly,” Dr. Wooten said. “This will communicate to your cat that you aren't a threat and that you are super chill.”

Pet where he likes to be petted

“Pet your cat in the purrfect place,” Dr. Wooten said.

That means definitely not on his tail.

Some good places to pet your cat are his head, cheeks, back, neck and shoulders, and sometimes the base of the tail (not the tail itself).

“Most cats enjoy strokes around the head and neck, and some cats enjoy scratches at the base of the tail,” Dr. Wooten said. “Cats will need to feel confident and calm to enjoy full-body strokes or belly rubs, so reserve these until you and your cat are confident with each other.”

Play with him

Playing with your cat is a great way to bond with him. Plus, you’ll help him exercise his natural instincts to jump, pounce and stalk, which will (hopefully) keep him out of trouble.

Try this KONG feather toy that earned The Dodo’s Paw of Approval from Chewy for $2.57

Give him treats

Giving your cat treats is a surefire way to get him to like you because he’ll form positive associations with your presence.

Try these Temptations treats that received The Dodo’s Paw of Approval from Amazon for $14.76

How do I know if my cat loves me?

It can be difficult sometimes to tell if a cat likes you since they can be pretty good at hiding what they’re feeling. So if you’re wondering if your cat loves you, here are some ways to tell:

  • Purring — Purring is an obvious sign of affection in cats. Cats purr when they’re relaxed and comfortable. (They can sometimes purr when they’re upset, but it’s less common.)
  • Meowing — Cats don’t meow to other cats, only to people — and they typically only use vocalizations around people they like.
  • Grooming — Cats are extremely hygienic. They spend a lot of time grooming themselves and each other. If your cat licks you, that’s a sign of affection — it helps spread his scent to mark you as his.
  • Tail — A tail held up high with the end curled over means your cat’s happy and playful.
  • Rolling — If your cat shows his belly to you, that means he likes you! Showing his stomach makes him vulnerable, so if your cat shows his, it means he feels comfortable.
  • Kneading — Cats learn to knead to get milk from their moms, and adult cats continue this when they’re feeling relaxed and happy.
  • Headbutts — If your cat’s butting his head against you, he’s trying to leave his scent on you to mark you as his territory.
  • Slow-blinking — Cats slow-blink when they’re feeling content and relaxed. “It's a very good sign if your cat blinks slowly back at you,” Dr. Wooten said. “It means, ‘I’m cool with you.’”

Can I get my cat to cuddle with me?

Not all cats like to cuddle, especially if they didn’t spend a lot of time around people when they were kittens, but you can encourage your cat to cuddle you with some positive reinforcement.

“Early handling of kittens is an important part of socialization and can greatly influence how much a cat likes to be touched by people,” Dr. Wooten said. “But if your cat missed that window or currently doesn’t love cuddling and petting, there are steps you can take to still encourage your cat to be a lap cat.”

The first step to getting your cat to cuddle with you is to get him to come into your lap. You can do this by using a super special training treat, such as tuna or little pieces of turkey, to coax him to you.

“Only give your cat a treat if they put a paw on your lap,” Dr. Wooten said. “The next time, encourage your cat to come further onto your lap by holding the treat just out of reach until you get two paws, and so on and so forth.”

You can extend the amount of time before you give your cat a treat so he’ll gradually spend more time on your lap. By giving him treats, he’ll begin to associate your lap with positive experiences.

Keep in mind that some cats won’t want to cuddle you, no matter how many treats you use. If this happens, you should never force the cat to be near you. And according to Dr. Wooten, “Never grab at your cat when they leave your lap because they will remember that!”

How do I show my cat I love him?

One of the best ways to show your cat you love him is to slow-blink at him. Since cats slow-blink at each other and at humans to show they feel comfortable around them, your cat will understand what you’re trying to communicate when you do this.

You can also learn to read your cat’s body language to help you understand how he’s feeling so you can take better care of him. For example, “If your cat growls or starts twitching their tail, stop the petting session,” Dr. Wooten said. Or if your cat’s following you around close to dinner time and meowing, he’s probably hungry.

And most cats love treats and playtime, so those are always good ways to show your cat you care. Many cats are particularly fond of catnip, so you can try giving your cat some catnip toys or treats to give him a really special snack.

Try these catnip toys that earned The Dodo’s Paw of Approval from Amazon for $12.99

So if you’re trying to make a cat like you, go slowly, let the cat come to you and pet him in his favorite places. And there’s nothing wrong with a little bribery to help him love you, either.

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