How to Get a Cat to Like You | Lifehacker
(whistles) – All right, up. Good boy. You don’t have to do anything to get a dog to like you. Some treats help but most dogs will get along with humans right away. We’ve been breeding that into them for all of human history. Cats, however, are very different. While they have been living near us for about 5,000 years, we’ve only been breeding them for about 200. So they’re basically still wild animals. (cat meow) When cats behave very differently from dogs, we misinterpret that as them being mean or unfriendly. A cat doesn’t have to be unfriendly. You just have to do a different kind of work to win them over. (smooth music) Today we’re gonna meet Cosmo the cat. Just like people, every cat is different. If they don’t love you right away, don’t take it too personally. (upbeat music) If you own a dog, you know that they love new smells, and investigating, and rolling around in them, and getting them all over themselves. Cats are the opposite. An unfamiliar scent can turn them off. So if you’re worried about bringing that kind of smell into the cat’s home, you could spray yourself with a pheromone, like Comfort Zone or Feliway. These are a bit expensive. They’re usually for cat owners trying to protect new furniture. But if you’re new furniture and you wanna take this to the next level, you could bring this with you, spray yourself just once or twice on the torso, let it settle in for a couple of minutes and this may help calm a cat. (curious music) Ever notice how a cat gravitates right toward the one allergic person in the room? They go past everyone else who’s trying to attract the cat, going, here kitty, kitty. (smacking kisses) Yeah, don’t do any of that. Spend some time actually ignoring the cat. That gives them space to scope you out on their own terms. (curious music) Let’s try a technique from cat guru, Jackson Galaxy. He calls it, the Michelangelo. The idea is, instead of reaching your hand out like this, which can be intimidating, you let it dangle. You make maybe a loose fist, one finger poking out, a little like a cat nose. Cats don’t see very well up close, that’s why they have whiskers. So, you don’t wanna be shoving this in their face. You’re holding it and waiting for the cat to come to you. It investigates, maybe invites you to scratch. And then you try to. It still may reject you at that point. It might ignore you all together. You just have to be patient and let the cat take the lead. (upbeat music) The safe zone for petting is different for every cat. But Tom McNamee, author of the Inner Life of Cats, recommends that you start with the spots that a mother cat would nuzzle her kittens. That can be behind the ears, or the base of the tail. (upbeat music) All cats are naturally territorial so they’re very conscious of their environment. You don’t wanna be a big imposing creature in their space. Get down on the floor, meet them on their level. Don’t block the exits. If they feel like they can come and go, they’re more likely to come back to you. (curious music) Here’s one I have a lot of trouble with. I love to stare a cat right in the eyes. But that can be counterproductive. That’s the look they give when they’re hunting and you’re doing that to them. Instead, you wanna give a long, slow, blink. That shows that you’re disarming, you’re relaxed, and friendly. You’re not hunting them. (upbeat music) A great modern toy is the laser pointer. I love making a cat chase it around. This is especially good with a new cat. According to cat behaviorist, Mieshelle Nagelschneider, if you get the cat in hunting mode, they’re more comfortable. They forget to be afraid of you. Point the laser under furniture and other hiding spots to better simulate prey that runs and hides from your cat. Then either lead them to a treat or lead them back to you and give them a treat. Let them catch their prey so that they don’t get bored very quickly. (smooth music) Let’s ramp this up beyond treats. If you work with the owner, you can feed the cat its regular meal. That establishes you as a potential provider worthy of trust and affection. One more tip from Jackson Galaxy, is to keep a special jackpot treat that only comes from guests. Cosmo has never had this particular treat before. So, ideally, we get him to associate me with the treat. Adam won’t give you these. These are just special guest treats. Keep them in the house, when people come over, hand them the treat, maybe even before they come indoors. Then every visit from a guest is like a visit from Santa. As long as you understand cats from their perspective, you’ll be a better cat friend. The things they do could be really weird to humans. They definitely don’t behave the same way dogs do. I just learn to go along with it. And let him know that whatever he does, I won’t hurt him. I’m his friend.