Feline Wellness

How to Properly Greet a Cat

June 13, 2024

Let’s say you’re at a friend’s house and they have a new cat. How do you get the cat to like you? What’s the best way to introduce yourself to form a successful friendship? As much as you may want to run up and squeeze them - I mean they really have no business being that cute and their noses are just asking to be booped - it’s important to restrain yourself and respect their space. You don’t want to overwhelm, annoy, or possibly scare them - you just want to be friends. Properly greeting a cat involves understanding their body language and adjusting your approach accordingly. 

Here are a few tips on how to properly greet a cat:

Wait for the cat to approach you. Cats like to be in control so ignore them and let them observe you for a bit rather than rushing right over to them for pets. Sudden movements and loud noises may startle them so allow them to walk up to you when they’re ready.

Get down to their level so you’re not looming over them, which can be overwhelming for a cat. Sit or kneel on the ground so you’re less likely to intimidate them.

Be calm and gently extend your finger or hand in their general direction. Stay still and allow them to sniff you so they can familiarize themselves with your scent. 

Slow blink at the cat. This shows trust and affection and is a way of showing them you’re a friend and not a threat. If the cat is feeling safe, they will likely slow blink back. 

If the cat rubs up against you, they officially approve of you and you can pet them - in their safe zones, of course, the head, cheeks, and potentially along the shoulders and upper back. Don’t try to pet their stomachs or tails as many cats dislike being touched in those areas. 

Don’t try to pick them up. They will jump into your lap if and when they want to. Many cats don’t like being picked up, especially by strangers.

If the cat seems hesitant or irritated, give them some space. Watch for signs of agitation like airplane ears, twitching tails, or backing away. There are more obvious warning signs too like growls and hisses. 

If the cat walks away, leave them be. Don’t follow them or try to pet them. They will likely return later if and when they feel so inclined.

Remember, cats like to be in control. You shouldn't force any interactions with them. Allow them some autonomy as well as a little time to get used to you and they will learn to trust you. Understanding their body language and preferences will help you and the new cat become friends in no time!

Love, Nala