When most people get a new cat, they do so to have a companion. The problem is that cats frequently get the reputation of being solitary creatures that don't care too much about bonding with their humans.
The good news is that although a few cats may feel that way, it all depends on the cat. Generally speaking, cats can be fairly social and easily bond with at least one member of the family.
While the bonding process will happen naturally over time, there are some tips for bonding with a new cat, and most of these involve making sure your new feline is happy and comfortable.
Make Them Feel Safe
Although it may seem counterintuitive if you want to form a bond right when you first adopt your new cat, whether they are a kitten or adult, you need to give them an area where they can be alone. This will help your cat feel safe..
If you have an extra room, set it up for them with everything they will need: a litter box, food, water, toys and bedding, and make sure that your other pets can't get into this room.
If you don't have an extra room, simply set up a small area somewhere. Let your cat spend the first day or so in here, making sure to check in regularly to help start the bonding process.
Give Them Space
After the first day or so when your cat starts to feel more comfortable, you can let him or her wander around your house, but always allow access to their "safe room."
This is also one of the most important times of the bonding process. You don't want your feline to feel overwhelmed — so although you should interact with them, don't do it too often. When you do, try to get down to their level and, instead of forcing them to interact, let them make the first move.
Play With Them
As soon as you think your cat feels comfortable, it is time to start playing. This is one of the best ways to bond with your new furry friend; after all, that is what they would do with their siblings if left alone.
Try to figure out which toys your new friend likes best, and play using these toys at least once or twice a day. Your cat will start to associate being with you as fun.
Once your new cat gets comfortable with your touch, you should take the time to start petting. One of the most social behaviors between cats is grooming — and when you pet your cat, you are doing something similar (except with your hand instead of your tongue). This means it will make them feel comfortable and will clearly show your intentions.
While you pet your new cat, be sure to talk in a gentle voice so the cat knows you mean no harm. Your ultimate goal here is for the cat to start purring. But don't feel discouraged if you don't hear purring: Some cats purr more easily than others.
As soon as you know you will be adopting a cat or kitten, you need to decide if you will let them on your bed. You should know that although it can be annoying when they take over your sleeping space, it is one of the best ways to bond with your new pet.
Don't force them to cuddle with you, but don't be surprised if you wake up in the middle of the night with your new furry friend cuddled up next to you. If your cat is still a kitten, you may need to provide help for getting on and off the bed. Review the kitten development stages so you know what to expect.
Food and Treats
Another great way to bond with your new cat is through feeding. Pick a certain time of the day for feeding and stick to it; your cat will quickly learn the schedule.
While feeding your cat, try to pet and talk to them as this will reinforce your bond. The goal while feeding is to make your feline feel special — which will in turn help the bond. Just don't be surprised if they quickly learn the feeding schedule and let you know if you are running late.
If you're bringing a new cat home to existing felines, read Dr. Deb's post about keeping the peace.