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How to Make Friends With Cats

Updated on October 18, 2017
Nancy Owens profile image

Nancy has experience training her cats to talk and has learned their various vocal cues.

Cats Make Good Friends

Cats are territorial.
Cats are territorial. | Source

Felines Are Social Animals

Cats have a complex social system. They have human companions and they interact socially with other cats, as well as with dogs and other animals.

In taking some time to observe cats as they interact with one another, we can draw some conclusions about their thought process in terms of bonding, both with other animals as well as human beings.

It seems that cats have deveoped a generalized set of social "norms" for interacting with other cats. They are generally polite, unless someone upsets the apple cart by doing something that is socially unacceptable, such as invading personal space before becomming well acquainted, getting too rowdy at play with the senior cat citizens, or hogging all the food at the dinner table.

Cats Like to Hide and Observe

Snip hides in floral bouquet. Cat hiding while observing his environment.
Snip hides in floral bouquet. Cat hiding while observing his environment. | Source

Friendship Factors Cats Consider

When choosing friends, be they cats, dogs, or humans, cats seem to take into consideration a number of factors. Because they could be considered prey to other animals, they seem to feel a need to choose their friends wisely. This is something that we as humans can take a lesson from!

Here are some things your cat may be thinking about choosing friends:

Visual Aspects: How large is this new creature? If it is larger than I, will it use its size to harm me? Will it step on me, sit on me, crush me?

Smell: We all know that animals' sense of smell is much greater than that of we humans. Felines use their sense of smell to determine where their new friend has been recently, and make other reasonable assumptions based on the information they gather from their sense of smell.

If, for example, a new friend has recently petted a dog, the cat will know right away. If it is a dog they have come to know and trust, it may be seen as a point in your favor. However, if the scent is from an unfamiliar dog, it may count against you. This applies to other smells, as well. Have you been using cleaning products? Perhaps you recently did some automotive repair. Even if you have washed your hands, the cat may still pick up the scent.

Emotions: Most people believe that animals are generally able to pick up on the emotions of others, be they other animals, or human beings.

When considered from this aspect, a cat may sense it if you are feeling edgy or irritated at something. Have you ever had the experience of having a pet who always seemed to know when you were feeling low, or were crying, and came to sit by your side as if they were commiserating with you?

When meeting a new cat for the first time, take a moment--or a few moments-- to check your emotions. Try to breathe in calm, gentle feelings, and exhale your excitable or frustration feelings. This will help the new cat feel more reassured in your presence.

Noise: It is likely that the cat you are trying to befriend will consider your vocal tones when first getting to know you. Speaking in your normal tone is best, but do try not to make sudden, loud vocal changes.

Movement: It is likely that the cat will want to observe you for a time period. Cats love to hide under the cover of furniture, bushes, and other things and just watch their environment. When considering a new friend--especially when that potential new friend has come into the cat's environment, or territory--it is likely the cat will take some time to just observe you.

While it is observing you, it will consider your movements. If you want the cat to feel comfortable around you, it is generally best to keep your movements fluid, rather than sudden.

Happy Cat

Neighbor is a Happy Cat observing his territory.
Neighbor is a Happy Cat observing his territory. | Source

More Tips to Make Friends With Cats

  1. Don't try too hard. Allow the cat to observe you from a distance it feels comfortable with. Sometimes, acting like you do not see it may make it feel more comfortable. Cats sometimes like to just "hang out", listening to your voice. In this way, they feel a part of the group, yet do not feel threatened.
  2. Let the cat smell you. They may want to sniff your shoe or leg, or even your hand. Just allowing them to gather information in this way will make the cat feel more at ease. While they are doing this, try to remain still and curb the urge to reach out and touch the cat. Allow it to set the pace of the bonding process.
  3. Try to make eye contact without forcing it. As a cat becomes more comfortable with you, it will make eye contact more frequently. If they are feeling threatened or fearful, they will not blink. If they do blink while having eye contact, take this as a signal that they are comfortable enough with the friendship boundaries to make a sign of submission, or acceptance of the situation, which is what the eye-blink usually indicates.
  4. Make the first contact brief. If the cat is indicating acceptance of you, it is okay to reach out and gently pet him or her. Usually, they like the first contact to be done in such a way that they can keep your hand in sight. Try stroking the top of their head or the side of their cheek with the side of your finger. The cat may rub against it, and if it does, that is a very good signal that you are on your way to lasting friendship!
  5. Talk to the cat frequently. Cats are very group oriented, possibly because being part of a group is a way to survive dangerous situations. Once you have bonded with your new cat, it will see you as a group leader. It will want to go where you go, and look to you to set the boundaries and tone of the relationship. By talking to your cat, it sees you are acknowledging its presence as a member of your group. Being acknowledged helps to give the cat a sense of belonging. A place in the community.
  6. Teach the cat to recognize a few words. By using certain words consistently, a pet owner can eliminate problems that may arise later. Because your cat will look to you for clues as to how to behave, and what to expect in certain situations, using the same phrases will help train your cat to respond in certain ways. For example, you might try using the same phrase every time you feed your cat, such as, "Time to Eat!" Soon, you cat will link that phrase with food in his or her belly. As time goes on, phrases such as, "Stay back," or "get down" will be understood. Another good tip for teaching a cat to recognize words is to make sure you have eye contact with the cat before saying the word. This way, the cat will know that you are talking with him or her.

And remember, it is not the force with which you say the words that brings obedience--it is the consistency with which the words are used that teaches the cat to respond in the same way each time!

A Cat Who Feels Comfortable in Her Environment

Cats Have to Watch Out for Predators
Cats Have to Watch Out for Predators | Source

© 2013 Nancy Owens


Submit a Comment
  • Nancy Owens profile imageAUTHOR

    Nancy Owens 

    7 years ago from USA

    Hi Au fait! Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment. It must have been difficult to have to give up having pets. A couple of my friends are allergic to cats and dogs. One doesn't miss being able to have pets. The other misses it terribly. I think you are right about pets developing their own personalities, and also about them adopting attitudes similar to those of their owners. Another thing that makes me giggle is how similar dogs and their owners can be where facial attributes and expressions are concerned. Happy Hubbing, Au fait.

  • Au fait profile image

    C E Clark 

    7 years ago from North Texas

    I grew up on a small dairy farm and have been around a lot of different kinds of animals. I have learned that they aren't so different from people, having their own individual temperaments and personalities. Some are smarter than others, some more friendly, etc.

    For some reason animals usually like me, as do little children. Sadly I am allergic to all animals, except maybe horses. Yes, even snakes and birds, and all. Mostly things I was around growing up. I sometimes work with little children and for some reason they still like me. ?? ;)

    Interesting hub. I find that cats like time to size you up before deciding if they like you. I used to have a cat before I was allergic to them. He was half Siamese and all black. Just a bit snotty at times. They say animals take on the attitudes of their owners . . . ;)

    Enjoyed your hub!

  • Nancy Owens profile imageAUTHOR

    Nancy Owens 

    7 years ago from USA

    Thank you so much for your kind words, Mr. Epigramman! All three of these cats came to me in tough circumstances. The gray cat was abandoned in the neighborhood and adopted us. We call him Neighbor. The white and gray cat shown sitting in the middle of the DIY project is the female and her name is Hunter. She had an accident and broke her shoulder several years ago and walks with a bit of a limp now, but does well and can climb and play soccer so she gets along great. The black and white cat is 22 pounds of mostly muscle and his name is Snip for the marking on his nose. He is very gentle, but very large. Both Snip and Hunter were orphans from different litters on a very large farm in Montana where I lived and worked at the time. Snip's eyes were not open when he was orphaned. Hunter was with her litter longer before she lost her mother, and so her eyes were open when she came to me. Had it not been for a very special set of circumstances, I would never have adopted them, and I would have missed so much joy. They truly have been great friends and companions. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to read and share.

  • epigramman profile image


    7 years ago

    Hello Nancy and so very nice to meet you - I really could have cried when I read your lovely, hearfelt and instructive hub presentation as the two best friends I have in this world are Little Miss Tiffy who was my mum's cat and she is now 18 and a certified diva and my own adopted cat Mister Gabriel who is all white and deaf.

    I will madly and gladly share your wonderful and most personal hub labor of love on my Facebook page with a link and a share.

    I am sending to you my warmest wishes and good energy from lake erie time ontario canada 5:27am

  • Nancy Owens profile imageAUTHOR

    Nancy Owens 

    7 years ago from USA

    It's nice of you to say, AAW9. I am no expert about cats in general, but after living with mine for several years, I've noticed consistency in their behaviors that seem to convey meaning. I could be totally wrong about how I interpret cats' behavior.

  • Nancy Owens profile imageAUTHOR

    Nancy Owens 

    7 years ago from USA

    Thank you for the kind words, Sunny River. It's amazing what gets revealed when we sit and listen to them, isn't it?

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    Good read Nancy - I've always been a cat lover.. interesting tips/pointers. Nicely done.

  • Sunny River profile image

    Sunny River 

    7 years ago from A Place Without A Name which resides somewhere between Fantasy and Belief, just north of Reality

    This was a really cool hub. I'm a cat person, personally, and so I knew all this before, but it gave me some insight into some of my cat's actions that I hadn't thought about before. Very nicely done! :)

  • Nancy Owens profile imageAUTHOR

    Nancy Owens 

    7 years ago from USA

    Your cat sounds a lot like my sister's cat. Her cat is around 20 years old, and when she was young she was really feisty. Would not let my sister hold her for very long. Now that she is older, she is more into cuddling, but if she sees another cat through the sliding glass door, she acts real tough through the glass, growling and swiping at them if they come up on the porch. Apparently, she is still young at heart!

  • Jackie Lynnley profile image

    Jackie Lynnley 

    7 years ago from the beautiful south

    My cat is 18 and she sleeps a lot but she will take as much attention as I will give her when she is awake. When she was young she would let me pet her only so much then she would slap me to stop. lol

  • Nancy Owens profile imageAUTHOR

    Nancy Owens 

    7 years ago from USA

    Thank you for your kind words, travelman1971. There are so many homeless cats, and not enough people to care for them it seems. I commend you for doing what you can to take care of the stray cats. Best of luck to you in the future.

  • travel_man1971 profile image

    Ireno Alcala 

    7 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

    The meowing and purring of my tamed but strayed cats always inspire me to adopt them. Some of my friends hate me because of those scrappy critters. But when, I feed them constantly and diligently, they became attached with me and they allowed me to caress their fur and even to the extent that those cats allowed me to bath them with little resistance.

    It's good to read your story about cats. Rated up and voted!

  • Nancy Owens profile imageAUTHOR

    Nancy Owens 

    7 years ago from USA

    Yes! You are right, FlourishAnyway. There is something about how direct the eye contact is that signals to the cat the aggressiveness of the person or animal they are making the eye contact with. When we are eyes wide open, so to speak, I think they see that as being aggressive, but when we relax our eyes and lower our eyelids somewhat, it seems to reassure the cat. Thank you for reading my hub, and for your kind words.

  • FlourishAnyway profile image


    7 years ago from USA

    What beautiful cats you have there! I also find that when making eye contact with them, they find the "sleepy eye" expression very soothing, nonintimidating.

  • Nancy Owens profile imageAUTHOR

    Nancy Owens 

    7 years ago from USA

    Yes, they are midget38, each of my cats has come into my life in a very unique way. It has been interesting watching them grow, bond, and develop. Thank you for taking a look at my hub.

  • midget38 profile image

    Michelle Liew 

    7 years ago from Singapore

    Animals are wonderful friends! Thanks for sharing! Nancy!


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