Don’t you have the cutest cat in the world? You expected to hug your feline friend here and there, but you find that is not the case? Would you like your pet to enjoy being petted more?
While it’s not always possible, you can probably turn your cat into a slightly more affectionate version of himself.
Just apply some of the following ideas, all of which are easy to implement, and hopefully, your cat will soon be more content with petting and cuddling.
This takes time, especially if you have a particularly grumpy, non-attached or even aloof cat, but in my opinion, it is entirely possible to train any cat to become at least a little more affectionate and happy to be petted.
Not all cats are the same and so some of the following tips may work for your cat and some may not.
Keep using the ones your cat seems to like, and leave out the ones she doesn’t seem to like at all.
Also, a tip: If you are trying to get your cat to let you pet him, don’t hug him when you pet him.
Cats don’t like to be picked up as they are.
If they associate cuddling with petting, it won’t help them associate “happy” and “nice” with petting.
Without further ado, here’s how you can teach your cat to be more affectionate
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR CAT TO BE MORE AFFECTIONATE
- PET YOUR CAT WHEN IT IS SITTING QUIETLY BY THE WINDOW.
The worst time to pet a cat is when it is stressed, anxious, alert, in hunting mode, or just not in essential time-out mode.
If your cat is sitting calmly and quietly by the window, on the couch, or anywhere else, this is the perfect time to get a mellow, non-threatening pet.
Try to pet your cat only once or twice, maybe three times at first, so as not to disturb her and take her out of her calm and relaxed mood, but a small number should not be totally unwanted if your cat is really calm.
- IF YOUR CAT LIKES TO BE BRUSHED, PET HER VERY GENTLY WHILE YOU BRUSH HER.
Some cats hate being brushed at first because they are not used to the feeling or because they don’t like the brush you are using.
Other cats start brushing right away, they learn to enjoy being petted over time, or they become obsessed with a particular cat brush and love being brushed every time they use it.
Do you have trouble getting a cat to enjoy being groomed? I’ve had luck with some very specific brushes.
My sensitive short-haired cats love the Kong Zoom Groom brush, and my sensitive long-haired cats, who often have mats in their fur and hate being brushed when their hair is pulled/covered too much by a brush, love the Furminator bath brush.
Personal? My favorite brush is the Furminator long hairbrush that I use on my long and short-haired cats – it is so effective at removing all the hair in the shed!
That being said, I’m happy when my cats are happy to be groomed, so I usually keep their favorite brushes.
If you have a cat that loves to be brushed but doesn’t like to be petted much, give your kitty a gentle petting while you brush so she starts to associate the happy feelings she gets when brushed with the feelings she gets when petted.
- JUST BEFORE PUTTING THE FOOD IN, PET YOUR CAT A LITTLE AND THEN PUT THE FOOD IN.
What creature on earth doesn’t like to eat and be fed? Food is essential to our survival, so it makes sense that we enjoy it as much and are incredibly happy when we are fed, and that goes for cats as well.
If you pet your cat very gently and not too long before meals, your cat may begin to associate petting with food consumption, which is undoubtedly an incredibly positive experience.
- CARESS YOUR CAT (NOT ON HER HEAD OR FACE, BUT ON HER BACK/SIDE) WHILE SHE IS EATING.
Some cats absolutely hate this, and if your cat shows signs of discomfort or does not like to be petted while eating, you must absolutely stop.
However, if your cat is a little surprised or likes to be petted, you should be able to pet her while she eats if you do it gently and don’t distract her from the food.
Again, the goal is to associate petting with happy feelings and emotions, and there is rarely a happier time than when a cat is eating its food, so this kind of interaction should help make a cat more comfortable to be petted.
- MAKE SURE YOU PLAY WITH YOUR CAT REGULARLY (AT LEAST ONCE A DAY).
Sometimes cats are aggressive simply because they haven’t had enough playtime. So it’s incredibly important to make sure your cat releases all of her hunting energy when you train her to be more affectionate. It’s not easy to remember, but it’s very important to do so.
I also find it very, very useful to have a variety of toys in the house for the cat to play with, especially in places where he usually spends time, because if you are busy or away from home because you are out or at work, there is always a place for him to draw his hunting energy.
The big hits in my house: cat feathers, toys for the dance floor, and sticks for kicking. In the eyes of my cats, these are certainly the best toys.
In my opinion, it is very important that they can do it themselves when they can, especially because – in my experience – they often use things that are not meant to be touched (such as threads, curtains, toilet paper rolls, etc.) to replace a cat toy that is only played with when they don’t know what else to do.
My cats’ favorite toy to play with themselves? The ridiculously affordable cat feathers from Spot Ethical Pet.
It’s a godsend, and although all cats have favorites in addition to these (such as marble toys like the Petstages tower or kicking toys like Kong’s Kickeroo), they love and use all the feathers to the fullest.
- GIVE YOUR CAT A TREAT WHILE STROKING IT.
Don’t overdo it, but a piece or two of kibble should be enough to let your kitten know that amazing things can happen when stroked.
- GENTLY PET YOUR CAT WHILE SHE’S SLEEPING COMFORTABLY.
Cats are generally much more receptive to petting, cuddling, and affection in general when they are calm and have already crouched down to sit or take a nap.
If you’ve never tried to approach your cat with a gentle cuddle while she sits quietly at the window or takes a nap, try to see how it goes.
Don’t worry and stop stroking your cat before he gets tired, but a few strokes here and there without disturbing your cat while he is comfortable should be a good start in the process of training your cat to be more affectionate and welcoming.
- PUT YOUR CAT ON YOUR LAP AND IMMEDIATELY GIVE HIM A TREAT AS A REWARD FOR HIS PRESENCE.
This is an advanced step that works very well if your cat is somewhat accustomed to your touch but doesn’t enjoy being held on your lap as much as if it were on a firmer, more stable surface such as a bed, floor, or sofa.
By placing your cat on your lap and immediately giving her a gift, you help your partner sitting on your lap to receive very good things (delicious treats!), which should help to associate your lap with pleasant and happy memories.
- IF YOUR CAT SITS ON YOUR LAP IN CONFUSION AND IS WAITING FOR ANOTHER TREAT, GIVE HER ANOTHER TREAT AS A REWARD FOR SITTING ON YOUR LAP.
Basically, if your cat doesn’t sit on your lap for more than a second, it’s perfectly normal.
Give your cat the freedom to jump on your lap whenever she wants.
If she tries to take a risk and is waiting for another treat, give her one after a few seconds to show her that more time spent simply means a greater chance of being bitten, which is incredibly rewarding for your kitten.
Not only will she jump on you, but sitting and sitting on your lap will have a positive effect.
- PET YOUR CAT AND IMMEDIATELY GIVE HER UNEXPECTED TREATS DURING THE DAY
If you start surprising your cat with unexpected treats throughout the day, it should help her associate her view of you with happy thoughts about getting the food.
If your cat likes catnip, a certain type of food (tuna?), a dental treatment, or even a simple little piece of chicken that you cook for dinner, give her a small piece of what you have (make sure it’s healthy first!) with a small animal before or during your treat.
Your cat should start associating the positive feelings she gets when you give her something to eat that she really likes with the act of petting.
- ESPECIALLY IF YOUR CAT HATES TO BE PICKED UP, GIVE HER A TREAT EVERY TIME YOU PICK HER UP.
Yes, this probably means that you should have cat treats in your bag or take some with you before you pick them up.
But this is important, especially if your cat hates being picked up at all costs, even for short periods of time.
Your cat will begin to associate being picked up with “may mean food”, which should help you associate being picked up with something less negative (which is probably a loss of control (who wants that?).
The second thing I usually do when cats are not fanatical about being picked up is to practice picking up a cat for very short periods of time, so that the kitten gets used to the idea that it won’t be in my arms for a long time and will be free again very, very soon when I pick it up.
I leave them for about three seconds after I pick them up so that they get used to the feeling of being picked up without the stress of having to hold them for what seems like an eternity.
I will also always put them down as soon as they start to see, feel, or meow that they are unhappy or not feeling well. That way, they begin to think that being held by me doesn’t mean being trapped, and they can control when I put them down very easily.
BUT I DON’T WANT MY CAT TO BE OVERWEIGHT!
Yes, many of the tips and tricks in this article refer to dry food, but since I use this simple tip to avoid overfeeding, I have never had a weight gain problem with my own cat, Avery, and I know that if I stick to this tip, I never will.
Aren’t you going to look at the article I mentioned? Do you just want the trick?
Basically, you need to measure your cat’s food portions (including all meals and treats) at the beginning of the day, but all the food in one or two containers, and give only that portion throughout the day.
If you never take the bowl out again, your cat will eat the right amount each day, no matter how often you take the bowl out.
Note that if you give your cat snacks without cat food, you can manage and maintain optimal health if all snacks combined (including dental snacks) do not exceed 10% of your cat’s daily caloric intake.
Want to make sure you’re not just handing out treats, but not everything at once? Buy a different food than your cat and use it as a “snack”.
I like to use the same brand of kibble that I currently use for my main meals, but with a different protein source (like salmon when my main meal is chicken), because it is advisable to give cats food with multiple protein sources to keep them healthy over the long term.