How to create a strong bond with your cat? This is a question asked on the internet.
The first thought I have is whether a cat owner should be asking the question. This is because a good cat owner who genuinely loves cats, and her cat in particular, will naturally end up with a strong bond all things being equal.
Having got that initially thought out of the way it is well-known that time creates attachment. So if you are slightly ambivalent about owning a cat after 6 months of ownership it’ll pay dividends to wait for at least 12 months to see how you feel. Research concluded that people who kept their cat for a year scored higher on attachment than those who gave up their cat.
The point made is that people should allow time to get used to owning a cat if they are first timer cat owners and to give their cat a chance to get used to the new environment and integrate into the family home.
You can see the potential problems of a new cat with a first timer cat owner. There may well be some bumps on the way to a good relationship if at the start the person’s reason for adopting a cat were not entirely inline with a longterm relationship. Both parties are entering a new relationship.
The expectations of a cat owner are an important factor in the relationship and studies have confirmed this. Where cat owners have rigid and specific expectations about domestic cat behaviour and cat ownership they are more likely to end up abandoning their cat. Perhaps the expectations are misplaced or slightly unrealistic. This could be in reference to a number of aspects of cat ownership and behaviour.
Often misplaced expectations start with a failure to accept a domestic cat as a cat (anthropomorphising cats). I feel that this is a vital issue. The more a cat owner can fully accept natural cat behaviour and enjoy it the more likely it is that she/he will create a strong bond with their cat.
This, then, is about education: ensuring the person has a good grasp of cat behaviour. If you want to have a strong bond with your cat you have to understand her. It also means not trying to force a cat into living a lifestyle which is unnatural as it may create stress in the cat which can undermine the relationship because stress can lead to e.g. peeing outside the litter box which will damage the relationship if it is already shaky. Entering into cat ownership should never be done lightly. It is a very serious and life changing step.
We know the main reason why people adopt cats: companionship. Cat owners can achieve this goal through excellent cat caretaking or conversely they can screw up by doing things such as punishing their cat for ‘bad behaviour’ and shouting at their cat. Or locking their cat in the garage. These sorts of things happen.
The modus operandi of cat ownership leading to a strong bond means (1) patience and not forcing issues (2) relating to your cat as a cat (3) allowing your cat to behave naturally (4) being with your cat a lot (regular play sessions) – this one is common sense but vital (5) keeping her healthy (e.g. think fleas) – a sick cat cannot be a good companion (6) understanding cat behaviour and accepting it (7) being gentle (8) handling your cat properly and this applies to all family members including children (9) punishing cats is a no-no (10) providing plenty of love e.g. gentle brushing (11) not being overly concerned with hygiene, cat hair and cleanliness because cats can sometimes be messy beasts (as per Sarah Hartwell’s website).