The Purr-fect New Year’s Resolution: A Better Relationship With Your Cat

As the year comes to an end, most humans evaluate the past year and choose one or two aspects of their lives to improve for the coming year. Those priorities for the new year might include anything from eating healthier to losing weight. Instead of the usual resolutions that we lose motivation to follow through on somewhere in the first three months of the new year, I challenge you to strengthen your relationship with your cat. Yes, the challenge is unusual – but a challenge that results in extraordinary rewards.



Making a case for a closer relationship with your cat

Being owned by a cat confers many benefits to us humans: including health benefits and one-of-a-kind companionship, among others. For evidence of the benefits of sharing one’s life with a cat, please see the resources at the end of the post under “Human Health and Cats.” With so many benefits to our physical and mental health, we can’t lose by improving our relationships with our cats. Leslie Sinn (2016) found that the primary reason given for adopting a cat from a shelter is companionship. Why do humans seek companionship from cats – but then barely give cats the chance to provide it? Why don’t humans take the time to find ways to meaningfully connect with their cats – on the cats’ terms - if companionship is what humans seek? Why wouldn’t you want to foster and grow that relationship to provide more than just another warm body in your life?

The power of the relationship possible with our cats is nothing short of life-changing. Over the last fourteen years, Bear’s changed how I feel about myself, how I approach the world, what I expect from others and confidence in my sense of what’s right. The day we met, we were the same: scared, overwhelmed, starving and feeling alone – even invisible. Together, we healed each other, came into our own and came to stake our claims in life. To read more about how Bear and I accomplished this, please read Imperfectly perfect ... together: The power of one cat’s love.

Bear’s love for me and his intense connection with me surprised me – even made me a bit uneasy. However, he wasn’t put off by my ambivalence or my misconception that cats aren’t capable of deeper relationships than two beings co-existing in the same space. He loved me completely and without reservation, and it’s not an overstatement to say the depths of his heart are vaster than my own – and 99% of the human population.



I’m not going to shame you for not taking the time or
making an effort to get closer to your cat; I will not pretend to understand your priorities. Do you wonder why everyone seems to have more meaningful relationships with their cats than you do, or do you not understand why other cat people love their cats so dearly? Likely, both of these conditions are a product of your limited ability to relate to your cat. Should you choose to make the relationship between you and your cat stronger – you will find that cats experience fervent love and attachment for their humans. Like any relationship, the feline/human relationship requires work – and making time to do that work. Don’t think of it as work at all – think of it as sharing your life with your cat, getting to know him and love him.

Environmental enrichment for cats is a trendy topic. But all the cat trees in the world, all the scratching posts, all the toys and every iteration of a cat’s basic needs won’t mean much to your cat if you aren’t part of the equation. The essential component in environmental enrichment for your cat is YOU. If you’re not sure that cats WANT us in their lives, please read Do cats need human interaction or are they completely fine on their own? or Cats really do need their humans, even if they don’t show it.  While the posts are a few years old, the conclusions in the studies cited haven’t changed with further research.

Cats ARE independent – but so are we. To have the best possible relationship with your cat – you must recognize the relationship will likely be on his terms. To some extent, this should not be new to you. Consider the modern landscape: If you approach a co-worker or a person on the street and continue to rub her back after telling you she’s uncomfortable, you’re accused of sexual harassment. Why is it acceptable to us humans to continue to pet a cat when he or she communicates with us by biting or swiping that he does not want you to pet him at that time? Do people not understand a cat’s cues that he’s uncomfortable, or do people think that the feline-human relationship should be on the person’s terms? In humans, that feeling of entitlement means nothing but trouble.

If you desire a closer relationship with your cats – the following steps worked for me. These steps are my impressions based on the relationships I’ve had with my cats and only based on research when indicated. Enjoy the journey to a stronger relationship with your cat!




How to strengthen your bond with your cat

Get out of your own way!

If you give your cat a chance, you might be surprised – even shocked at what you’ll receive in exchange for a few minutes and an open mind. An open mind? YES! Step one for a better relationship with your cat: Get out of your own way! The inappropriate expectations, confused perceptions and misunderstandings we hold about our cats are the main reason our relationships with our cats aren’t as fulfilling as we hope. When we observe feline behavior – we judge our cats’ motivations and feelings based on human behavior. We see vindictiveness and malice where there’s likely none (see Are Cats Evil, Mean,or Vindictive by Nature? and How to Train Your Cat to Not Be Mean). Or we compare our cats’ behavior to dogs’ – a proposition which will always put cats on the losing end – not because cats are inferior – but because we don’t take the time to understand feline behavior when canine behavior makes sense to us. A closer relationship with your cat requires you to challenge everything you THINK you know about cats and make conscious decisions (considering the cats’ instincts, nature and needs) in relating to cats.



The iss
ue isn’t that our cats don’t care about us – or that they want to be alone – it’s that we don’t take the time to understand them and build a connection. We CAN have better relationships with our cats if we take the time to relate to them. Like any relationship, you get out what you put in. You probably walk your dog – toss a ball – spend TIME with your dog. Do you spend a similar amount of devoted time with your cat? Our cats mirror our behavior – they take a cue from how we relate to them (or not) and act accordingly.

Some of you with both cats and dogs might remark, “But my relationship with my dog is so easy!” First, comparing two different species is always a mistake. Cats show love differently from dogs – and the way they view us is also distinctive.  Cats relate to humans as peers in most situations – though the affection they feel toward us is similar to the attachment human children feel toward their parents [(Vitale, et al.) (Edwards, et al.) (Finka, et al.)].  Dogs relate to humans as owners. For those of you who can’t resist comparing, I ask you which of the strategies I discuss below you use with your dog. I’m guessing you recognize basic training is essential – especially house-training. I also suspect you play with your dog and take him for walks. See where I’m going with this? The relationship you have with your dog seems easy because YOU ARE ALREADY EMPLOYING THESE STRATEGIES WITH YOUR DOG – namely spending time with your dog.

Most people believe cats don’t need or want human interaction – and that one can’t train a cat. Both of these myths only hurt the cats we love and ourselves because we miss out on the bond possible between a human and a feline: a bond that finally healed my brokenness and is the only reason I’m still alive. Because cats demand attention differently, and humans expect them to make their demands like dogs – humans assume cats have no requirements of us and, even worse, are ambivalent to our presence. Challenge these inaccuracies about the true nature of cats and enjoy a better relationship with your cat!



Understanding cats in general

Understanding cats in general, is the second step to improving your relationship with your cat. Suggested topics to research include cat body language, the myriad of ways cats show us they love us, how cats see humans, the kinds of relationships cats are truly capable of and the feline “wild side,” which accounts for their needs for enrichment. Cats might not come with an instruction manual – but there are a ton of resources out there to help you understand your cat! Patronek, et al. found that first-time cat owners, those with unrealistic expectations of cats’ nature as pets and those who hadn’t read a book or other material relating to typical cat behavior, were at increased risk of relinquishing their cats.  For suggested resources to learn more about cats, please scroll to the bottom of the post under “Understanding cats - general advice for understanding and caring for your cat.”

Part of understanding cats includes understanding the cause of their “unwanted” or “undesirable” behavior. My experience shows me those behaviors come from only a few sources:

1) Feline instincts. Behaviors like scratching are normal and a necessary part of being a cat. To learn more about instincts other than scratching – like predatory behavior, finding vertical space and preserving food – please read Feline instincts. Feline instincts also create boredom and stress when cats find themselves in environments without suitable ways to express their cat-ness. In the absence of these outlets, cats assert their essential “wild catness” by devising their own fun – often in ways we humans don’t appreciate. [For more information on environmental enrichment to help our cats express their instincts in ways that don't frustrate us: Are your cats bored?So your cats are bored. Now what?Is your cat meowing up the wrong cat tree?]




2) Basic needs aren’t being met (like insis
ting on a covered litter box when the cat does not like covered litter boxes; or putting a litter box in a highly trafficked area). This category also includes the stress some of our cats feel due to circumstances in which they have no control. To read more about the effects of stress on cats and the behavioral issues that might result, please see the section “Stress and Cats” in the sources section.

3) Cats are not feeling the connection with us they desire. Perhaps you spend quite a bit of quality time with your cat – but if you share a deeply bonded relationship with your cat – his behavior might mirror secure attachment seen in humans (for evidence that cats display attachment similar to humans and dogs: Cats really do need their humans, even if they don’t show it. The research shows that around 64% of cats express secure attachment to their humans – on par with the percentages of babies and dogs who feel securely attached). Other studies came to the same conclusion: cats feel attached to humans, similar to how children experience attachment with their parents [(Vitale, et al.) (Edwards, et al.) (Finka, et al.)]. Begging or misbehaving is a sure-fire way to connect with a cat’s humans. We can’t help BUT react.

4) Your cat is sick or has a health issue. Please see “Behavioral signs of illness” in the Resources section of this post for more information.

For years, I assumed Bear misbehaved because of the first reason – yet I went out of my way to ensure he had adequate outlets for his wild side. When he didn’t change, I just accepted him as he is. Now, I suspect his misbehavior is for the third reason: he needs to connect with me regularly. Bear goes about his cat business for a short time, and then he feels the need to “check-in” with me for a bit before going back to his cat business. Researchers observe similar behavior in children securely attached to their parents. Bear and I have always shared a deep bond – but for the first fourteen years of his life, I assumed his misbehavior was boredom. Now that I understand the reason for his behavior – I can meet his needs by giving him the short spurts of attention he desires when he checks in. With this slight modification to my behavior – his behavior has changed as well: less “misbehavior!”



How do I KNOW Bear’s issues ar
e a result of the third option? For all the trouble he got into while I was home – if he were only bored – he would’ve done that stuff while I was gone as well. When I was at home, he’d scratch the couch, stuff his paw in the toaster, climb the clothes in my closet, drag my giant stuffed animals around, pop keys off my laptop and knock everything off our counters and tables. Yet, NOT EVEN ONCE did I come home to find keys popped off my laptop – stuffed animals where they didn’t belong – things knocked off tables and counters – clothes pulled off their hangers – NONE OF THAT. When I returned home, I noticed none of the messes indicative of his unfortunate behavior while I was home! For me, that means he only did those things while I was home to be his audience. He wasn’t bored (at least not as much as I’d always assumed) – he just wanted to connect with me while I was home.

 

Understanding YOUR cat

Understanding YOUR cat is the next step to having a better relationship with your cat. Understanding your cat includes understanding:

  • Her preferences (for scratching, the litter box, what type of play truly piques her predatory drive, where and how she likes to be pet [and where not], etc.).
  • Traits that make her different from other cats (example: most cats don’t like to feel trapped in a person’s arms – but Bear’s always allowed me to wrap him in my arms without panicking. He even seems to seek that out from me.).

We can’t bend cats to our will – so we must adjust our expectations of them by understanding what our specific cats are comfortable with and capable of in a relationship with us. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if each cat came with a manual? My first cat, Kitty, was not a cuddler. For years, I assumed she didn’t love me. Like people, some cats are more physically demonstrative than others – some are capable of must richer and more complex interactions.



Kitty showed me she loved me by al
ways being in the same room as I was. She showed me she loved me by bringing her mouse conquests to my room. And Kitty showed she loved me because I was the only person allowed to touch her. But for years before I finally figured out that she did care, I didn’t see intimacy or love. When I had Kitty [and before I realized how she showed me she loves me], I subscribed to the view that cats don’t need us and don’t care if we’re around. Toward the end of her life, I finally saw how she felt about me based on her behavior – and my expectations of cats changed dramatically.

I won’t lie: my relationship with Kitty was not as cuddly and physically intimate as I would’ve liked. Trying to change our relationship to suit my needs would only have pushed her farther away. Part of loving your cat is putting a priority on what your cat needs over what you need. The relationship will still be precious and worthwhile – even if it doesn’t quite look like you’d prefer. We somehow understand this for the most part in human relationships – and cats have their preferences and quirks – just like humans.

Bear’s the exact opposite – he’s in my face – demanding love – interacting with me at every opportunity. At first, Bear’s need to be ON me at all times made me very uncomfortable. The point is that you can’t make a non-cuddler a cuddler. And I suppose you could try to make a cuddler a non-cuddler, but why would you share your life with a cat if you desire to push the cat away? You must respect where your cat is – and I also suggest reading my post on how cats show love (Do cats need human interaction or are they completely fine on their own?). I’m relatively sure you’ll find at least a way or two that your cat is showing you love that you haven’t discerned yet: whether your cat is a non-cuddler or not.

Another excellent example of the differences between cats: many cats roll on their backs and show their bellies – this is one way cats express love and a sense of security (for a quick overview, see Belly Rubs Gone Wrong). Misunderstanding this, I used to pet Kitty’s belly – and she’d bite me.



On the other paw, B
ear rolls on his back and moves my hand down to his belly to pet him there. Because of my experience with Kitty, I was reluctant to give in and pet Bear’s stomach – and I would’ve missed out on one of the best experiences of sharing one’s life with a cat! You can understand cats on a general basis – but understanding your cat’s preferences and how they differ from that common basis – is key to building a genuine relationship with your cat.



Learn to asses
s your cat’s mood and give her space when you sense negative feelings. After being swiped at, often, our first step is to try to smooth relations over by continuing to pet the cat. You know how this ends: getting bitten! Learning the body language of our cats helps us respect their boundaries. Let them come to you (relate on their terms – not your own).

Do you find yourself struggling to comprehend your cat? You might consult a cat behaviorist, your veterinarian or use any of the free helplines out there to help you deal with problematic behavior. For a list of these resources, please see the section at the bottom of this post titled “Understanding your cat - Find a cat behavior expert.”

Now that you understand cats in general and your cat specifically, you likely see your cat a bit differently. As I’ve learned about cats by writing about them – and using my cats to illustrate points – I appreciate them all the more. I understand where they’re coming from and why they do what they do; this translates into a deeper appreciation of my cats. Learning about my felines helped me recognize my cats (and all cats) for the fantastic and majestic creatures they are. Identifying the ways your cat shows you he loves you majorly changes how you see him.



Understanding what’s typical
for one of my cats also helps me pinpoint issues before they become severe. Most importantly, by learning about my cats – I’ve adjusted my expectations of them. My relationships with Bear and Ellie are much more fulfilling than my relationship with Kitty. Is this because Kitty wasn’t as cuddly? Not really. The change in my perception of my relationship with my cats is because what I expect from them has changed (and to be honest, with Kitty, I could’ve expected far more had I taken the time to learn about cats).

Honestly, for years, what I assumed was Bear’s boredom frustrated me. Bear was always into something – always up to something - and coming up with new schemes and projects to drive me crazy. No matter how much we played, an hour later, he’d be back at his outlandish behavior. Figuring out his real motivation for misbehaving was a light bulb moment for me. What used to annoy and frustrate me – now makes me feel closer to him. I see his motivation as love – not malice – and this alone has changed my perception of our relationship so profoundly that my perspective’s done a complete 180.




Meet your cat's basic needs

Once you understand cats in general – and your cat specifically – you can meet your cat’s basic needs. Meeting your cat’s basic needs includes deliberate nutrition (cats are obligate carnivores with low thirst-drive), adequate litter box facilities, enrichment, routine veterinary care and a relationship with you.



Some points I consider fundamental to a cat's basic needs:
  • Cats like routine and prefer a secure and safe environment.
  • Do not declaw (to learn why, please read “Pain and adverse behavior in declawed cats”).
  • Recognize when your cat is stressed or sick (see “Stress and Cats” in the Resources section below) to give her the best life possible.
  • Spay or neuter. Please see “Benefits of spaying and neutering cats” in the resources below for more information on why spaying or neutering your cat is necessary. How much of a difference does spaying or neutering make? Patronek, et al. found that almost a third of owner-surrenders to a shelter was due to the cat not being spayed or neutered.
  • Keep your cat inside. To read about the dangers of letting your cat outside: Cats - Indoors or Outdoors? and Indoor Cats vs. Outdoor Cats. For cats that don’t go outside, one must provide sufficient environmental enrichment (we've done a few posts related to environmental enrichment: Are your cats bored?So your cats are bored. Now what?Is your cat meowing up the wrong cat tree?).

Please see “A cat’s basic needs” in the resource section below for more specific information on a cat’s basic nee
ds (including environmental enrichment).




Spend time with your cat and share positive experiences 

[using what you've learned about cats and your cat specifically]

There are almost a limitless number of ways we can meaningfully interact with our cats. But to have a deep relationship with your cat, you must take the time to relate and prioritize that relationship. Again, your relationship with your cat will likely be more on kitty’s timetable than yours. It doesn’t matter how many times I pet Bear before I go to bed – he will wake me up to pet him when he feels the need. Spending time with your cats means respecting the cat’s wishes – and not forcing interactions with your cat. Positive interactions create trust. When spending time with your cat, for the best results and a deeper bond, make the time to give your cat your undivided attention. 



What are some excellent ways to spend time with your cat that will increase your bond?

1) Grooming your cat. 

Grooming your cat is one way to encourage physical intimacy that might be less scary for timid or unsure cats. For more information: Brush Your Cat for Bonding, Beauty, and Better Health and How to Help Your Cat with Grooming. Some cats require regular grooming, which will deepen your bond - but for those that don’t - spending time brushing your cat will strengthen your relationship. (This method of improving your relationship with your cat is mentioned in 7 Ways to Bond With Your Cat15 Fun Ways to Bond With Your Cat and How to Bond With Your Cat.)

2) Playtime with your kitty. 

Who can see that little cat butt wiggle and NOT melt? Seeing cats’ incredible predatory capabilities causes us to appreciate them and marvel at what they can do. Not only does playing with your cat regularly solidify your relationship, but it also is likely to lessen behavioral issues (see Can playing with your cat prevent behavior problems?).



Th
is choice for spending time with your cat is perfect for cats like Kitty who prefer limited physical contact. For more information on playing with your cat, please see "Playtime with kitty" in the resource section below.  (This method of improving your relationship with your cat is mentioned in 7 Ways to Bond With Your Cat15 Fun Ways to Bond With Your Cat and How to Bond With Your Cat.)

3) Training your feline.

I do not have much experience with this – but I believe the principle is similar to playing – seeing our cats’ abilities bind us to them. We see sides to our cats we never expected. Because training requires you and your cat to spend time working together to achieve a specific result – it’s a great way to deepen your bond and build trust. Training also provides a positive channel of communication between you and your cat (see Why You're Probably Training Your Cat All Wrong). Some examples of training for you and your cat (links to educational resources for each kind of training under “Training cats” below):

  • Clicker training. Clicker training involves using a clicker to reward desirable behavior.
  • Leash training. With leash training, you and your cat can explore the outdoors as a team.
  • Simple tricks. You can train your cat to do some simple tricks: ringing a bell, shaking paws or giving a high-five.

4) Feeding your cat. 

A feline associates food with good things. Be the person who provides the food – and you’ll be steps ahead of where you’d be if you didn’t. My boyfriend gets frustrated because I’m the cats’ favorite even though he scoops their litter box more often. Why? I feed our cats!  You might scoop the litter box regularly (and care for your cat in just about every other way), but your efforts aren’t positively associated with you. (This method of improving your relationship with your cat is mentioned in 7 Ways to Bond With Your Cat15 Fun Ways to Bond With Your Cat and How to Bond With Your Cat.)

5) Talking to your kitty.

This strategy for a better relationship with your cat is mentioned in 15 Fun Ways to Bond With Your Cat5 Reasons You Should Talk To Your Cat and Understanding Cats: How Feline View Our Words and Actions.




6) Slow blinking at your feline. 

Humphrey et al.'s (2020) research indicates that eye narrowing between humans and cats functions as "positive emotional communication."


Your relationship with your cat: What NOT to do


If you want to strengthen your relationship with your cat, what you do is just as important as what you don’t do. Now that we’ve covered what you SHOULD do let’s discuss what you shouldn’t do if you’re trying to strengthen your bond with your cat? [This section is based on Dr. Karen Becker’s “10 Ways to Jeopardize Your Cat’s Trust.”]

Don’t force your cat to interact with you: interact on your cat’s terms. Forced interactions can scare your cat – focus on building trust by positive associations. Forced interactions include:
  1. Staring at your cat (making eye contact) for an extended period (which cats may interpret as aggressive).
  2. Holding your cat’s head or sitting face-to-face.
  3. Physically confining your cat in your arms (as I shared above, Bear remains relaxed when my arms are around him – but this is not the norm for cats). Cats are consummate hunters and are familiar with the steps they take to catch prey and consume prey. Predators restrain their prey before eating them – so while the cat is on the other side of the coin - he’s familiar with the dance. Cats hunting mice would restrain them before eating them – and your cat.



Don’t punish your cat. Punishing a cat erodes her trust in you and is ineffective. With Bear, I’ve used distraction to great success. Even something as simple as running your foot across the floor or knocking gently on the wall work! Because many cats experience boredom and feel frustrated in expressing their natural urges – be sure to provide appropriate outlets for your cat’s energy and drive!

Don’t provide positive reinforcement or encouragement for play aggression. Playing with your cat is a must! But play aggression involves your cat attacking part of your body – whether by stalking and pouncing – or under the blankets in bed. While this behavior is seemingly adorable and not abnormal – you set the stage for future behavior issues. For example, by condoning attacks on your body during playtime, your cat might get confused when it’s okay and when it’s not okay if you allow it sometimes – but not others. Discouraging play aggression is as easy as hissing at your cat when he attacks you – and then taking a few minutes before resuming play. When I adopted Bear, I didn’t know about play aggression – I’d wiggle my toes under the door and watch him go nuts trying to bat them. This game was fun until he started to chomp down hard when he should’ve given me a “love bite.” I understand now how I confused him – by making my body parts a toy – he bit them like he would a toy – even when we weren’t playing. Bear wasn’t able to distinguish the different contexts (play vs. snuggle time).

Don’t ignore the effect of the environment on your cat. Keep sudden movements or noise to a minimum. Your cat might interpret sudden movements or noise as a threat to his safety - putting him on edge. Similarly, stomping and yelling – even if not directed toward the cat – will create stress and fear. The best example of cats being anxious because of what’s in their environment are fireworks. Bear used to be very jumpy, uneasy and tense because of nearby fireworks. Speak softly and maintain a calm environment – to prevent your cat from feeling threatened. Loud noises and strong smells are both stressful for a cat’s sensitive hearing and
sense of smell.



Don’t
make decisions for your cat’s care based solely on your convenience or needs. While many people assume cats adequately groom themselves, this is not always the case. Certain breeds and older cats might require help. Similarly, be mindful of your cat’s litter box. Keep the litter box scooped – a dirty litter box might cause a cat to do his business elsewhere. Instead of choosing the spot for your cat’s litter box based on what’s convenient for you, consider a location for your cat’s litter box in a quiet area – free of the hustle and bustle. Before leaving your cat alone overnight, please consider threats to his wellbeing and find a pet sitter to come to your home in your absence.

Final thoughts

You CAN have a closer and deeper relationship with your cat by taking a few minutes to understand and interact with her. The magnitude of the benefits you receive from your relationship with your cat is directly related how much you invest in the relationship. The majority of cats WANT us in their lives – though they might not act like they do all the time. If you’ve put out cues that you prefer a more distant relationship – your cat follows your lead (even if those cues are because you don’t think your cat wants a relationship with you – to the cat, it’s the same as you not wanting a relationship). Learning about cats helps you understand how to approach her, care for her and interact with her in meaningful ways.



Don’t think of impr
oving your relationship as work (though I understand it might feel that way at times) – think of your efforts as learning to share a meaningful life with your cat. You adopted your cat for companionship – so why not make an effort to be real companions? I bet the love you receive from your cat will not only surprise you – but make all the effort to get there worth it. Adjusting your priorities to give your cat the best possible life will also affect yours in unexpected ways.

If you don’t see noticeable differences at first, have patience! The dynamic we create with our cats is years in the making. Cats like routine – but with enough patience and time, I believe you can create a new routine that is more fulfilling for both of you! Putting in the work to build a better relationship with your cat is not only worth it – but will leave you both emotionally and physically healthier.


Resources

Please keep in mind that for every resource shared in the resource section of this post - there are hundreds more available online. I didn’t want to overload the post with links; instead, I focus on just a few sources. While I believe the steps I shared will deepen your relationship with your cat - you must find your own way to put them into practice - and have fun! Let these resources be the starting point for your journey as you work toward a stronger relationship with your cat. I look forward to hearing your success stories!



Resources - Human Health and Cats:

Resources - Understanding cats - general advice for understanding and caring for your cat:




Resources - Stress and Cats:


Resources - Behavioral signs of illness:


Resources - Understanding your cat - find a cat behavior expert:

  • Kinds of cat behavior experts:

  • Helplines (almost all are free):

  • Online forums or groups:




Resources - Benefits of spaying and neutering cats:


Resources - A cat’s basic needs:


Resources - Playtime with kitty:

Resources - Training Cats:


Resources on Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat:

Enrichment and boredom in cats

Normal feline behavior

Surrender prevention

Veterinary care

Human-feline relationship


Sources Cited

“10 Ways to Jeopardize Your Cat’s Trust.” Dr. Karen Becker. Healthy Pets, https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2020/09/08/things-you-should-never-do-to-your-cat.aspx, Accessed 29 Dec. 2020.

Edwards, C., Heiblum, M., Tejeda, A. and Galindo, F. (2007). Experimental evaluation of attachment behaviors in owned cats. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 2, 119–125.

Finka, Lauren R., Ward, Joanna, Farnworth, Mark J., Mills, Daniel S. (2019). Owner personality and the wellbeing of their cats share parallels with the parent-child relationship. PLOS ONE 14(2): e0211862.

Humphrey, T., Proops, L., Forman, J. et al. (2020). The role of cat eye narrowing movements in cat–human communication. Scientific Reports, 10, 16503.

Patronek, G.J., Glickman, L.T., Beck, A.M., McCabe, G.P. and Ecker, C. (1996). Risk Factors for Relinquishment of Cats to an Animal Shelter. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 209, 582-588.

Sinn, L. (2016). Factors affecting the selection of cats by adopters. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 14, 5-9.

Vitale, Kristyn R., Behnke, Alexandra C. and Udell, Monique A.R. (2019). Attachment bonds between domestic cats and humans. Current Biology, 29, R859–R865.

© 2020 Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat - Published by K. Kern. 
All text, pictures, images, and other content are original and copyright by Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat [K. Kern], 2015-2020. No content on Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat may be used without the owner's [K. Kern] written permission. If you see this post posted on a site that isn't Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat, please contact cats@mommakatandherbearcat.com.

18 comments

  1. Such a long post with a lot of great information! Thank you for sharing!

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  2. That is indeed the most purrfect resolution!

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    1. I guess I could've added that we can always have a better relationship with our cats - even if the one we have now is pretty great.

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  3. What a lovely and informative post. Thanks for sharing some terrific tips for developing a great relationship with your cat. Happy New Year!

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    1. Now you just need a cat! I'm curious now thinking of how Elsa would react to having a cat ... either really well (they'd be besties doing all kinds of nonsense) or really bad. Probably best to keep that as a hypothetical.

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  4. Excellent post. And getting close to one's cat is the best resolution ever. I am especially close to my Sammy and Joanie because they want the closeness, but I try to bond with all 8 daily.

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    1. I have to remind myself that cats are like people ... some are capable of closer relationships than others. It's not a good or bad thing - they are just different. Then again, I have a bad habit of trying to convince people that act distant that I'm good enough somehow - so it makes sense my instinct would be the same with cats.

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  5. Such an excellent and informative post, Kat. We think improving one's relationship with their cat(s) is a wonderful resolution! Even if you already have a great feline-human relationship, there's always room to make it even better. :)

    Happy New Year!

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  6. I have come a long long long way. I was young when I had my first cat. They were all indoor-outdoor and probably went to other homes as well for attention, in the neighborhood. They passed away in time, and I got a lot better with expectations and knowledge. As a result, the last three..no four cats knew they were loved and though they loved us back...the one who has the deepest commitment to me is Katie. We are totally completely tightly bonded.

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    1. You and Katie have a beautiful story and a beautiful life and we're so glad you share them with us!

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  7. I loved Eric and Flynn equally but did have a closer relationship with Flynn. Wherever I went, indoors or outdoors, he had to be with me day and night. Eric graduated more to Ivor although when I was using the PC he would have to share the desk with Flynn. Very often I would find myself using my leg as a mouse pad rather than disturb them.
    Not related to my boys but when my MIL died we took on her cats. One was mostly indoors, the rest were barn cats with one family of three being semi feral. She could only get near most of them when she fed them. One day after she died, I went up into the orchard to feed the chickens. Ivor was coming down the path and he told me to look behind me. Every one of those cats was following me! It took time but I did manage to get them all to come indoors. It did get crowded on the bed though, but thankfully some preferred the sofa.

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    1. I'm fascinated with how relationships between people and cats change. I know I favor Bear heavily - I try not to, but we have a long shared history. However, when I adopted Bear, I heavily favored Kitty because I'd been her person for 15 years. I remember wondering if I'd ever really truly bond with Bear - and now, that's just a funny anecdote because we couldn't be more bonded unless we were literally glued together.

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  8. Amen! After experiencing the worst year and a half of my life, the loss of 2 fur kids and an unexpected hospitalization the relationship I have with my feline fur kids is what keeps me going!

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    1. I hear you. For years, Bear was the only reason I got up in the morning! He's always been such a huge blessing.

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  9. What a fabulous post. So much food for thought. I think real cat lovers instinctively do their very best for their pet but there's lots her to think about.

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    1. I agree - we do our best. There's just so much I didn't know though - and how could I know all the ins and outs about cats besides living it? I've made mistakes - but each is a learning experience - and blogging about them helps me feel better because I'm helping someone else's cat so they don't make the same mistake.

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