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Healthy Cats

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How to Bond With a Cat

Tips to help you make friends with a feline.

Wild Things continued...

King likes to speak in a calm, low-pitched, musical voice, to avoid sudden movements and to sit on the ground. Instead of staring wide-eyed at a cat, she says she also lowers her eyelids “like a lazy cat in the sun ... where you mimic them.”

In the end, it pays to take time to learn your cat’s like and dislikes.

“The big payoff is the moment the cat climbs into your lap and looks at you and purrs lovingly when you don’t have food,” King says.

Dos and Don'ts

Here are more tips on how to make friends with a feline:

Do be patient. Bonding with a cat -- particularly one with a troubled or questionable history -- can take “a lot of time,” King says.

Don’t expect the cat to bond equally with every person in the home. Some cats get more attached to a particular person.

Never raise your voice and don’t spank or swat a cat. “Punishment means nothing to a cat,” Galaxy says. “All you are doing is eroding the bond.” But it’s certainly OK to issue a firm “no” if you catch your cat doing something risky.

There’s no quick correction for a cat’s aggressive behavior towards a person, but a time-out may work. Safely remove the cat from the situation, putting it in a darkened room where it can calm down. If it’s a new issue with a cat you’ve had for a long time, there may be an underlying medical problem, so check with your veterinarian. Otherwise, a behaviorist can help determine the cause of your cat’s aggression, Galaxy says.

Don’t leave food out 24/7. “You being the food source is of paramount importance to your cat,” Galaxy says. “If you want to bond with your cat, then you have to be the giver of the food.”

Do get your cat spayed or neutered. In addition to reducing the unwanted pet population, “it tends to even them out and makes them more focused on the type of relationship that you want to have,” King says.

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Reviewed on May 13, 2011

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