How To Get Your Cat To Like You More

How should you approach a strange cat?

Use these tips when approaching a strange cat.Getty

While you probably feel comfortable approaching your own cat, it’s harder to get acquainted with an unfamiliar feline, like your friend’s tabby or the neighbor’s Siamese cat. But it’s far from impossible, according to experts.

DeVos offers a five-step process for getting familiarized with strange cats:

  1. Extend your knuckle for the cat to smell.
  2. Allow the cat to “pet himself” by rubbing into your hand.
  3. Keep your hand low; don’t reach over the cat’s head.
  4. Proceed at the cat’s pace.
  5. If you see any signs of discomfort, withdraw your hand and let the cat dictate what proximity to you is comfortable.


6. Play with them—a lot

String your kitty along (in a good way). / PhotoAttractive/E+/Getty Images

Most of the behavior problems that I've witnessed stem from boredom and a lack of routine playtime. No one thinks twice about walking their dog every day, but many people fail to recognize that felines are stealth predators who need a regular outlet for that energy. A 2017 study suggested that cats prefer human interaction over food, but a closer look at the data demonstrated that what really attracted them to humans was the presence of an interactive toy. One of their top choices is a wand-style toy with feathers, strings, or other prey-like attachments that evoke predatory behavior. Daily interactive play is a great way to bond with them when they’re not in the mood to cuddle—and will help keep them fit.

Pet in a Cat-Friendly Way

When dealing with an unfamiliar cat, stick to only petting briefly and watch how he reacts to see if he asks for more. Although each cat is an individual and can have specific petting preferences, it’s usually a good idea to stick to the top or back of the head, along the cheeks or under the chin. Some cats like long strokes down the back but for others, it can be too stimulating. When you don’t yet know a cat’s preference, stick to brief petting around the head and then watch the reaction. It’s always better to leave the cat wanting more affection rather than push him beyond his tolerance level.

8. Socialize cats when theyre young

The more socializing that cats do when they’re little, the happier they’ll be (hopefully). / NickyLloyd/E+/Getty Images

Multiple studies have shown that just a few minutes a day of positive handling by humans helps kittens grow up to be friendlier and more trusting of humans. The ideal age to socialize kittens is when they're between 2 and 9 weeks old. One 2008 study found that shelter kittens that had been given a lot of "enhanced socialization"—additional attention, affection, and play—were, a year later, more affectionate with their owners and less fearful than other kittens adopted from the same shelters.

You can help socialize kittens by volunteering as a foster caretaker. Fostering ensures they get plenty of interaction with people, which will help them will be comfortable around potential adopters. You'll also be doing your local shelter a huge favor by alleviating overcrowding.

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5. Use Treats Strategically

This one’s pretty straightforward—give a cat a tasty morsel, and she’ll be more likely to warm up. However, this doesn’t mean showering the cat with treats all day long. Koski recommends using cat treats strategically “to either reward good social interactions with you, or to entice a shyer cat to move towards you and get to know you better.”

Keep in mind that not all cats have the same tastes—if you want to build a lasting friendship, it’s best to do your research. “Some cats are not very food-motivated so you might have to search for a treat that they like,” Koski explains. To start, she suggests “plain cooked chicken breast, a little nugget of stinky cheese, or tuna flakes.”

Make Your Cat Visitor-Friendly

There’s only so much you can do to win over a new cat. But if you’re a cat owner, there’s a lot you can do to help your cats get along better with visitors.

A treat works better if the cat only gets it for special occasions, says Galaxy. “Nothing wrong with bribery.” In fact, he believes bribery should be more fundamental to treat-giving. “I’m not a fan of just doling out treats for nothing. Food is all we’ve got. They don’t give a rip about making us happy. It’s just not part of their wiring, as opposed to dogs.”

He suggests reserving one “jackpot” treat for guests alone to hand out. Ideally, a visit from a guest should be like a visit from Santa.

As an owner, you can advocate for your cats and give visitors all the advice above. “We feel uncomfortable telling people what to do or what not to do,” says Galaxy, but “it’s OK for you to protect your cat in that respect.”

You don’t want to freak out your friend — if they feel anxious, the cat will read that and get anxious too. You want to help them understand what appeals to your cat. In his book, Galaxy even recommends that guests ignore a cat on the first visit, and wait for later visits to establish trust.

Activate hunter mode

Nagelschneider suggests a more proactive method: play with the cat using a wand toy or laser pointer. “It’s a preemptive strategy to keep that fear out of the equation,” she says. “It helps them feel confident and relaxed around you.” You want a confident cat, and not just because that is the cutest thing to imagine. A confident cat isn’t as afraid. You can trick their little cat brains.


A wand toy lets the cat keep their distance while interacting with you, especially if you slide it behind couches or in other spots to make the “prey” more realistic. “The one little trick is to trigger what’s called their ‘seeking circuit,’” says Nagelschneider.

Galaxy is skeptical of this approach: “Confidence only comes on their terms. There is no way to bypass what their ancestry is telling them to do.” You might try the play method after you’ve established some trust. It doesn’t instantly win over every cat, but I’ve certainly gotten more love from a friend’s cat after giving it some laser pointer action.


You can also go for straight-up bribery. Put a treat on the floor, “maybe three feet out,” says McNamee. Then leave treats closer and closer. Galaxy suggests dropping treats like “pennies from heaven,” again avoiding direct contact that could feel too much like confrontation.

Feeding the cat its normal meal is another great opportunity, says McNamee. “Put the food down in their usual place and then sit next to it.”


About this article

Co-authored by: Brian Bourquin, DVM Veterinarian This article was co-authored by Brian Bourquin, DVM. Brian Bourquin, better known as “Dr. B” to his clients, is a Veterinarian and the Owner of Boston Veterinary Clinic, a pet health care and veterinary clinic with three locations, South End/Bay Village, the Seaport, and Brookline, Massachusetts. Boston Veterinary Clinic specializes in primary veterinary care, including wellness and preventative care, sick and emergency care, soft-tissue surgery, dentistry. The clinic also provides specialty services in behavior, nutrition, and alternative pain management therapies using acupuncture, and therapeutic laser treatments. Boston Veterinary Clinic is an AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) accredited hospital and Boston’s first Fear Free Certified Clinic. Brian has over 19 years of veterinary experience and earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. This article has been viewed 629,449 times. 8 votes – 100% Co-authors: 152 Updated: December 24, 2021 Views: 629,449

Article SummaryX

If you want to get your cat to like you, give it a comfortable living space where it feels safe. Create a feeling of security in your cat by feeding it at about the same time every day, and by providing it with fresh water. Cats love to be clean, so empty the litter box daily. Don’t chase the cat or force it to interact with you, especially when it’s eating, sleeping, or cleaning itself. Instead, wait until the cat shows interest in you, then gently stroke it on its cheeks, under its chin, and along its back. Give the cat a variety of toys, and talk to it often so it will be used to the sound of your voice. For tips from our veterinary reviewer on helping your cat learn its name, read on!

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3. Observe the Cats Likes and Dislikes

Just like people, cats have vastly different perso

Just like people, cats have vastly different personalities and preferences. If you’re meeting a friend or significant other’s cat, you can ask questions; if you’re adopting a new cat, you’ll have to take the time to observe the cat’s behaviors and get a feel for what she enjoys.

“Even a shy but curious cat has the potential to become your next best friend if you take things slow and build trust,” Koski says. You can ingratiate yourself by finding out what that particular cat likes. “If the cat likes to be brushed, then you can brush the cat,” Krieger suggests, “whatever it is, then that’s what you can do to encourage the cat to come forward.”

Koski offers a tip for simple petting: “Most cats enjoy being rubbed on the forehead, around the ears, neck, and cheeks,” she says, “so stick to these areas with a new cat.”

Which cats are the most affectionate?

Are certain breeds more affectionate than others? It’s hard to say for certain.Getty

You can’t judge a book by its cover, and you also can’t judge a cat by its breed. Well, not completely.

“Personally, I find orange male cats to be more laid back, confident and affectionate – however, that is purely anecdotal from handling thousands of cats in shelters,” DeVoss says.

There are some scientific studies that explore the connection between cat breed and personality. A quick summary of the studies’ findings:

  • A 2016 study finds that Abyssinians and Tonkinese cats display greater sociability toward people
  • A 2019 study finds British Shorthair cats were least likely to seek out human contact, while Korat and Devon Rex cats were the most likely to seek out human contact.
  • A 2021 study finds Korat, Oriental breeds (Siamese, Balinese), and Abyssinian more social than British, Sacred Birman, European Persian, and Exotic, but that’s subjective and dependent on how the researchers define sociability.

Some contradictory evidence: While previous research ranked Persian cats as less sociable, the 2019 study found they were most likely to seek out human contact — but only when researchers compare breeds that have been previously studied for sociability.

The 2019 study also determined Abyssinian and Oriental cats were more likely to initiate human contact, contradicting previous research. On the whole, scientific evidence is somewhat mixed when it comes to determining affection by breed.

“The impact of breed on behavior has not been as extensively explored in the domestic cat compared to domestic dogs,” Pankratz says.

Delgado adds: “The general thought is that breeds are more similar to each other than different.”

Experts say that other factors, like a cat’s prior history with people, can be more influential than breed or genetics in determining their behavior.

“There are different reasons that cats may or may not be cuddly, including how they were socialized as a kitten and how comfortable they are in their current living environment,” Delgado says.

DeVoss adds, “For instance, a kitten that has experienced abuse, neglect or trauma might not be as social as a cat who developed in reliable, comfortable surroundings.”

At the end of the day, each cat needs to be treated as an individual with its own unique personality and naturally shifting affections — just like any human.

“Rather than judge, allow them to show you love however works for them, and do your best to make them happy,” Delgado says.


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