How Do I "Make" My cat Cuddle with me? You Don't!

This is a question we are commonly asked by Sammy's Hope adopting families.  Here are some tips that I have found helpful with our cats and kittens to help them engage more!

Most cats are very lovable and enjoy cuddles and head bumps from their feline friends and human servants. Some cats, though, are shyer than their cuddly cousins, others are more standoffish and still others seem to dislike you (they don't really.)

                                                                       Bonnie 

                                                                       Bonnie 


The key to interacting with your shy or scared cat is to remember your most uncomfortable social interaction.  Maybe you walked into a new friend's home for a party. You didn't know anyone else there, so your eyes frantically scanned the room for your host. But she was in the living room surrounded by her close friends, laughing, eating and sharing cocktails. All of the guests were so comfortable with one another, except you, so you melted into the wall, hoping no one would notice. Whether your shy cat is new to your home or has been there for years, hiding under furniture, and this is how she feels.


Your cat wants a friend; he just needs to be convinced that you want to be that friend.  He may be lying under the couch or the bed where you can't reach him, but he's well aware that you're near, so talk to him, softly and gently, as if to an old friend who needs a shoulder. Sit down a few feet away from him and have a heart to heart conversation. Just as your friend would appreciate a piece of pie, your cat will like a high value treat while you chat (think soft kitty treats, tuna, chicken, etc.).   Shake the bag as you approach so kitty begins to associate the sound with your arrival and food. Don't try to touch him, just offer him the gift of your treats and company. Do this as often as you can, when life is quiet.

                                                                  amara

                                                                  amara


When kitty is comfortable with your giving him treats from a distance, switch it up a bit. Put his favorite food or some baby food on a long spoon and offer it to him. This connects you to him without threat and reinforces that you are the human who brings wonderful things. Soon, you can begin offering your spoonful of yummy or placing treats a few inches and then feet away from his hiding space so he has to come out for it. When he does come into the open, he may dart away, frightened of the suddenly open space with you in it. Don't worry; if you stay still and keep working your magic, he'll come back.  Eventually you can put the treat on your fingers or in your hand for him. Kitty will come. It may take a day, it may take weeks or months, but he will come once he believes you want to be his friend as much as he wants to be yours.  


You Can Do It! Good luck and always feel free to ask Sammy's Hope about next steps and more ways to make your cat a happy, comfortable member of your family!

Trish Quinn

Director of Feline Behavior & Board Member

Sammy's Hope Animal Welfare and Adoption Center