Cats aren't known for being as warm as dogs but that's not to say they don't enjoy affection and bonding with humans. It really will boil down to how you approach petting a cat that will define whether or not the encounter ends in scratches or cuddles.
The oldest trick in the book for getting any pet to come to you is to offer them some form of edible reward. Many people reading this will have earned the trust of a cat by holding out some tasty kitten food to them. While this may seem like the easiest way to let a cat know you mean well, not all cats are motivated by food and it's no use when there isn't any kibble around.
The certified feline behaviorists behind the catztrainer9 TikTok account that share regular feline advice have revealed in a video the best way to start a friendly encounter with a cat and how to let them know they can trust your efforts to stroke them.
According to the trainer behind catztrainer9, cats greet each other nose to nose. It isn't recommended you push your nose up to a cat without warning but you can use your hand.
Let them sniff your finger or knuckle by holding it in place, allowing them to lean in, and then let them guide you. They will then show you how they want to be petted.
The second thing to note is that some cats only like their heads being petted so make sure to respect this and only touch their head gently. Try to avoid touching other areas of their body, otherwise, be prepared for some form of a reaction.
What's the main thing to remember? "The key is observing body language," says one of the catztrainer9's feline behaviorists, "Is the cat inviting you for affection? They lean in and then you can give them affection. If they don’t, then honor it and let them be."
Respect the cat and avoid aggression or causing anxiety in a cat by only offering up your affection when it is invited by them. The more time you spend with a cat the more you will understand how they like to be approached by humans and hopefully the more trust you will build with them.
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With over a year of writing for PetsRadar, Jessica is a seasoned pet writer. She joined the team after writing for the sister site, Fit&Well for a year. Growing up with a lively rescue lurcher kindled her love for animal behavior and care. Jessica holds a journalism degree from Cardiff University and has authored articles for renowned publications, including LiveScience, Runner's World, The Evening Express, and Tom's Guide. Throughout her career in journalism she has forged connections with experts in the field, like behaviorists, trainers, and vets. Through her writing, Jessica aims to empower pet owners with accurate information to enhance their furry companions' lives.