Humane Rescue Alliance
Wednesday, May 30, 2018
As we all know, cats have their very own personalities, and first impressions with cats can be very important. Perhaps you are visiting our cat cafe and have never met a cat before or you're visiting a friend’s house for the first time and they have a cat. Or, better yet, you have decided that adopting a cat is in your future. By paying attention to the tips below, you can make your first meeting very positive and leave just the right impression on your new feline friend.
1. Sit down or lower yourself to the cat's level. Your size may be intimidating to a cat. If you put yourself on the cat’s level, you will eliminate some of the cat’s initial fears.
2. Offer a hand for the cat to sniff. Reach your hand toward the cat and allow her to come to you. Keep your fist closed and below the cats head. She will sniff, rub, and decide what the next step is.
3. Interact at the cat's speed. Let her make the first move and go slow. Don’t be overly anxious to pet the cat. Let her pet you first! Even if the cat initiates contact, you'll still want to take it slow. Let the cat determine the pace of the interaction.
4. Do not stare at a cat. For cats, staring is a sign of aggression. You can make brief contact then look away and to the side. Offer the cat long, slow blinks, which translates to "I mean you no harm." The cat may reciprocate the blinks.
5. Watch the cat's body language. Every cat has areas she loves to be petted and others that are off limits. In general, when interacting with a cat that is not your own, stick to petting in the cheek, chin and neck area. Watch a cat's gestures (tail motion, stares, rapid head turning). These may mean the cat is overstimulated, and this is not what you want.
6. Listen to the Attendants of the cat lounge. Let our staff tell you about a particular cat’s behavior patterns. There may be likes and dislikes that could affect your interaction. Remember that a cat may be more tolerant with familiar people than with new people. This also applies if you're in a shelter or if you’re visiting someone’s home.
7. Reintroduce yourself the next time you see a cat. You may look or smell different the second time you meet a cat, so once again, take your time and go slow.
8. If a cat doesn't want to interact with you, don't force it. The cat might simply not want to meet you or interact. Remember, it’s on her terms, so be patient. If the cat moves away, don't follow. That's how the cat is letting you know that she needs space. Every cat is different, with a different personality and different behavior. Let the cat make the decisions. If you build trust, you’ll have a friend for life!