Thursday, May 24, 2012

How to get your cat to love you more | by Paulette Cooper and Paul Noble

There was once a company that made cosmetics, body lotions and shampoos containing catnip to encourage cats to get close to those who applied it. But here are better ways to get your little love to be more of a lap cat. After all, you want your cat to come to you and love you for yourself, not for your catnip.

If your cat doesn't want to let you touch her, buy a toy you two can play together that keeps her near without any direct physical contact. For example, a toy attached to string. Then, keep shortening the string so your cat becomes increasingly more comfortable as she is closer to you.

Talk to her gently and softly as you put down her food and stay with her while she eats so she associates you with her favorite activity--eating. Be close enough that she can see you, but not so close that she won't eat.

Keep reinforcing her. If a cat will generally spend one minute on your lap before bolting, after about 30 seconds, offer her a small food reward. Then, each time she sits in your lap, extend the reward a few seconds, reinforcing her at 40, 50, 60, 70 seconds, etc. Eventually, she may sit still for a while on your lap without having to be constantly reinforced.

Let her come to you when she's ready; rather than your coming to her when you are. "Don't love your cat when you want to. Take your cue from her. She'll be more attentive to you if the attention is not forced," says Dr. Margaret Muns, a staff veterinarian in a pet forum at CompuServe.

Ignore her. Some say not looking at her or having anything to do with her when you first get her--other than feeding her, of course--will lead the cat to come to you.

Don't use negative reinforcement. Don't scold her and don't ever hit her. Not only doesn't it work, but with one loud scream or slap, you can undo all the other things above that were working so well for you.

From 277 Secrets Your Cat Wants You to Know by Paulette Cooper and Paul Noble.