Loving Your Cat The Way He Likes It

Although loving your cat is excellent and praiseworthy, it is possible to love your cat in a way that is too human. A person should deliver their love in a way that is appreciated by their cat. It is about respecting your cat as a cat and trying not to forget it.

Cats provide support and friendship to other cats in a way that is different to the way human’s express their love for someone. The typical example is giving cuddles and hugs. Cuddles and hugs are OK but if overdone and too effusive it can irritate or upset a cat.

Treating a cat as a baby

Picture believed to be in public domain. Collage by Michael. Photo of original image by Beverly & Pack.

People in a relationship like a cuddle. Not all cats like to be cuddled in the same way a person cuddles another person. In fact it could said that none do. Some cats don’t like to be picked up and a lot of cats don’t like to rest on a person’s lap or next them on their bed etc. Each cat has his/her own personality. But sometimes a person can have incorrect expectations of what their cat likes and in trying to force their love on their cat cause the cat to be upset. This can be hurtful to the person as well.

Indeed some cats can have a problem with people of a certain sex. This can be due to a bad experience with a person or incomplete socialization as a kitten. For example, a cat might have been bred by a female cat breeder and only met female people during early life. This cat might have difficulties with a man. Trying to love a cat that dislikes you because of your sex is going to be almost impossible.

It could be said that people are perhaps generally more demonstrative than cats. They like to show their love and receive it or that is the social expectation. Cats are, in general, more reserved, independent and solitary although most domestic cats have adapted to socialized living. This basic difference between the species (human and cat) in respect of culture or behavior can cause a clash between cat and person or hinder the relationship.

This is most likely to happen if the person wants a cat as a baby substitute. It is dangerous to adopt a cat in lieu of having a baby because the person is likely to treat the cat as a baby. Foisting love on a cat as a child could lead to the cat becoming defensively aggressive in the worse case scenario and scratching the owner. That could end the relationship, which might end anyway if and when the person has a real baby.

Sometimes it can be sensible to let your cat make the first move when interacting. Let him or her approach you rather than grabbing him out of the blue and cuddling him effusively. A good cat will tolerate an effusive cuddle and may even like it but in general, my experience informs me, that cats like a bit of space and not to be held close for anything but a reasonably short time. This, though it character dependent.

You see the worse cases of human roughhouse cuddling when young kids give their cat a cuddle or make contact with their cat. It is almost painful to watch. Kids expressing their affection for a cat can go way over the top and get scratched as a result. Kids need to be taught how to love their cat.

Another form of inappropriate human love directed at a cat is when the person uses their cat as an emotional prop due to emotional problems they might have. I am not saying cats can’t be used by a person to help them get through a difficult time but care should be exercised. It is unfair to project onto your cat your personal problems. I don’t think a cat is qualified to solve human problems.

The key to loving a cat is to respect the cat as a cat and do to the cat what you know he/she likes and wants and no more. This requires an understanding of cat behavior and it can often mean backing off a bit and giving your cat some emotional and physical space. Love should be delivered on the cat’s terms.

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Loving Your Cat The Way He Likes It — 6 Comments

  1. Another brilliant article Michael, which shows you have not only love but deep rescpect for cats.
    You know them well!
    Yes some cats, like some people, enjoy a lot of affection but it’s not right to smother them with love and cuddles if they don’t want it, some may tolerate a lot but some may just as easily give out a swipe when they’ve had enough.
    We have to learn the signs, our Jozef loves his tummy nuzzled and giving lots of head butts back but we respect his right to stop when he wants to, we know the look in his eyes that says OK that’s enough. Walter is harder to read, he has a shorter tolerance for love sessions, he likes little and often lol he likes to sit on the arm of the chair to be peacefully close.
    Yes parents need to teach their kids that cats are not toys, they don’t like being carried about or dressed up, they may tolerate it for a while but shouldn’t be blamed if the child won’t let them go when they want to and the cat lashes out.
    Your words ‘love should be delivered on the cat’s terms’ say it all.

  2. Molly is very particular about how and when you approach her and how and when she wants cuddles. I always give her too much space and let her ask me when its time that she wants some affection. She has habits of wanting cuddles when i get up in the night – she comes running all ready to roll on the floor for belly rubs and so on but if you just walk to her another time of day and try to pick her up she will claw her way out and run away and not go near you. I have a feeling something happened to her before she came to live with me because its very unusual. Gigi her almost sister has total trust and lets you stroke her or cuddle her but i never do it if i sense she is busy or not in the mood – even though she will let me. She likes kisses and cuddles though and expects them when I get home and at certain times. It takes a while to get used to each cat and their particular nature and rhythm but I believe you give them too much space and let them come to you. Sometimes you dont even look them in the eye if they are new to you or nervous. I always get affection from cats I meet simply because i make sure never to invade their space and if I do something by accident – like a loud noise – i apologize and just calmly back away. They always end up coming over and headbutting me in the end, even cats I meet in the street 🙂 Cats need space and no loud noises or abrubt movement. Some cats would rather you pet them when they are up high or under a bed and thats fine too. They need to feel safe form the giants. Molly is really coming out of her shell now and almost never gets spooked but I am very careful and talk to her quietly if I need to walk past her. I am very angry about the fact that she seems to have had a bad experience before coming to me. Somebody must have got pissed off or done something bad to her because her behaviour does not come from nowhere. They mentioned she pooped on the floor once inside – i have a feeling she got yelled at or pushed or something. Lilly want cuddles all the time so its never an issue to pick her up or snuggle with her. But I agree – often people just annoy and push them aaway by constantly wanting to touch them. Don’t touch unless you are touched and most things will work themselvesout after that. This is the first lesson and key to connecting with your cat – and playing with them is too.

    • An instructional comment that adds first hand experience to the post. The word “space” comes up. This is an important word and on its own almost summarizes what we need to give a cat as well as plenty of TLC.

  3. Even in a human relationship love requires respect – if you really love a person then you must know when to give them space and furthermore you should want to give them space if thats what they need. The first thing that goes down the drain when ‘love’ comes into the picture with humans is ‘respect’ – it just goes out the window and doesnt come back. That can not last a long time and it doesn’t. Respect yourself and others and don’t break that rule in the name of love.

  4. Hi all. Just catching up. I agree totally with premise of article. I’d like to offer one small counter example, from my experience with rescue cat Tootsie.

    Online adoption ad said “does not like to be picked up”. Certainly not a make or break for adoption, but having had so much experience with cats I figured I could change this. (Human failing). And, I like the cat-in-arms closeness.

    So, I would pick her up, maybe once every two days, but let her go, gently released to the ground the moment she started to struggle. Usually after about two seconds. I gradually discovered there was a certain way to hold her so that she would stick about for a few more seconds. Enough time to scritch her chin. Oh, of course, never picked her up except when she was calm, awake, and just hanging out.

    Then out of the blue, maybe three years after I adopted her, I picked her up and she started purring, and loving it. Loved having her chin and ears “scritched”. Wow! After about 5 minutes she’d had enough of it, so I gently let her down. It’s rare that she will “get into it” for 5 minutes, but when she’s in the mood, she really really does seem to enjoy picked up.

    I think it’s a matter of “trust established”. In that she “knows” that her choice to stay for whatever amount of time she chooses, and that I won’t force myself on her to keep her in my arms a second longer than she wants to stay.

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