5 Tips For Meeting A New Cat
Whether you’re meeting a kitty client or introducing a new cat to your household, these five tips will help you to ‘speak in cat’ and make the best first impressions on any feline.
1 - If you’re entering a house that has an unknown kitty resident, stay quiet and respect their domain. It’s best not to bring anything with you that might make a startling noise - if you have crinkly shopping bags, for example, leave them in your car or outside where the cat won’t be frightened by them. You might also remove your shoes if you’re prone to stomping.
2 - When meeting a cat for the first time, don’t rush over to it and try to cuddle - take the time to get a fix on the cat’s personality by sitting or crouching in a friendly, open space nearby. If the cat’s owner is with you, hold a quiet conversation and do your best to ignore the kitty. I know it can be hard, they’re so cute!
3 - Ever wonder why cats always seem most attracted to the people in the house who give them the least attention? Eye contact can be intimidating for cats, so try not to look directly at kitty if they don’t know you yet. If you must have eye contact, break up direct vision with frequent slow blinks to show the cat that you’re relaxed and happy. Some people even call this technique ‘blink kissing’ as occasionally a cat will blink back!
4 - To gain a cat’s trust, stay low (or whatever their level is, just try not to tower over them) and extend your open hand, finger or even the earpiece from your glasses so that the cat can sniff it and get a fix on your scent. If they’re comfortable progressing, you can then scratch the kitty’s forehead, chin or cheeks - cat’s cheeks contain scent glands that, when rubbed, release pheromones that can help calm the cat (that’s why they love to rub their cheeks on things!). These pheromones are also the basis of calming, anti-spray or anti-scratch products such as Feliway which can be useful to have around either as a spray or diffuser during stressful times such as house moves, new cats or pet sitters.
Try not to pat along the entire length of the cat (from its head to its tail) when first meeting it, as this can make it excited when you want it calm.
5 - Learn cat body language. Between their posture, tail position, ear position and eyes, a cat can say a lot without speaking! Some common body languages of cats -
Ears back or flattened : Threatened or scared - don’t go near a cat with its ears back unless absolutely necessary.
Ears moving a lot between up, down, sideways : Uncertain, wary
Tail straight up or casually back: Friendly, at ease
Tail straight up and fluffed out : Scared, angry
Tail curled like a question mark : Friendly, inquisitive
Tail tucked under : Submissive, frightened
Tail waving : Angry, defensive, or in hunting mode
Rolling over and exposing tummy : Making themselves vulnerable, means they trust you (not always a call for belly rubs! Take care!)
Knowing and practicing these tips can help you to become a more effective cat sitter, or even just allow you to socialise with the resident cat at a party. I know I use them a lot, hopefully you will too. ;)