How To Greet & Interact With A Cat: A Concise Guide

Unfortunately, feline enthusiasts often have to defend their love for their “aloof” soulmates aka their precious mousers, more commonly known as cats. Cats have terrible reputations for being unloving, haughty, emotionally absent and roving (as in never at home) pets. And often thought of as vicious 3 am fighters or howlers (for other X-rated) reasons. But any true cat owner and enthusiast knows that cats are seriously loveable, thoughtful, cute, fun to be around and awesome in their unique ways.

If you doubt whether your cat loves you, please read 18 Signs That Your Cat Loves You.

The biggest issue when it comes to cats is that people don’t know how to interact with them or read their body language and plenty don’t even know how to say hello. Cats aren’t dogs and playing rough with a cat or using your hands as bait will end badly.

So how do you interact with the beautiful, majestic creatures that Egyptians worshipped? Well, here is your concise guide on how to greet and interact with a cat.


Insert Cat Here…



When meeting and greeting a new cat, it is always tempting to rush up to the fluffy cutie pie like Elmyra and pet him/her or pick them up and squeeze them, whispering sweet nothings in their ears. But contain yourself for kitten’s sake.


So, when saying hello to a cat or kitten remember the following:

#1). Observe the cat’s body language. If the cat’s tail is up and its tip curling slightly he/she may be receptive to petting. If his/her tail is down and “wagging” from side-to-side or just neutral the cat is in hunting or not interested mode. If they stare at you, they are uncomfortable with you; if they slow blink while staring at you it’s a good sign.


#2). Make yourself as small as possible. Cats seem like mind readers. But actually, they are expert body language readers. When meeting a kitty for the first time, crouch and make yourself seem less intimidating… even consider sitting on the floor.

#3). Don’t make direct eye contact. Often in the movies, if something scary walks in, the characters will say something like “don’t make eye contact”. The same is true for cats. Staring or direct eye contact can come across as intimidating or aggressive. You can look and then avert your eyes and then glance again. You can also blink several times when you do make eye contact, before looking away. This may sound crazy, but it works.


#4). Don’t pay too much attention to the cat. When the kitty is ready to bond he/she will make his/her way to you. This is tough because any cat lover wants to love on any feline in the room. But try playing it cool. Remember if you sit on the floor you also appear less daunting. But generally, if you carry on with life the kitty may become intrigued and come to you. This is also the reason cats are drawn to people who aren’t “cat people” because they pose less of a “threat”.

#5). Allow kitty a whiff of you. One of a kitty’s first ways of saying hello is sniffing you and having a lick. Cats have a keen sense of smell that helps them identify people and other animals; this identification comes from taking in each person’s/creature’s unique scent. A lick is also a good sign from a kitty.


#6). Give them nibbles. If you are not the owner of the kitty, ask permission first. Then put nibbles/treats between you and kitty until he/she eats out of your hand or at least feels safe enough to approach you.


#7) Offer bribes. Toys are a great way to get a kitty on your side. If kitty is receptive and in a playful mood, a good way to get know him/her is with a toy. Especially, a wand toy; so that there is space between you and the feline beauty you want to play with.


#8). Pet with permission. When meeting a new kitty and with your own feline, only pet and touch if the kitty lets you or if they comfortable, relaxed and stretching/moving towards you. Don’t overdo it either or you’ll get a nip and never touch their tummies – it’s a trap.



#9) Give cats space. It’s so difficult to contain your enthusiasm around cute and clever felines. But it is important to allow them to set the pace and space. A cornered cat isn’t a happy cat. So, when meeting a cat don’t chase it in the corner to pick him/her up.




Interactive playing with your cat is vital; it strengthens the feline-human bond, is good for weight management, helps your cat baby get rid of negative energy/aggression, and builds your kitty’s confidence. But even more important than playing with your cat is doing it the correct way. And this applies to any/all interaction with your cat.

To ensure you are interacting with cats/ your cats in the right way, here are a few pointers.

#1). Playing/Interacting with kittens. When playing with kittens it is important to make sure you steer clear of anything stringy, small things capable of being ingested, plastic bags etc.; there is a whole range of toys available at the pet shop suitable for the fur-babies. Although the only thing known to keep up with a kitten is another kitten – you can try to keep up (with lots of caffeine; also, training for the IronMan and/or chasing after your thoroughbred in a paddock may be beneficial in training to be fit enough for kitten playing). Just please never ever play with your hands/feet/fingers – your kitten/cats will learn they can attack and bite your hands whenever they feel like it. Regardless whether you are awake, asleep, busy carrying your wedding cake, trying to put on mascara or whatever. And while the clawing and nipping are cute when they are little, it’s not so cute when they become fully-fledged tigers.



#2). Keep things interesting. When playing with your cat keep things fresh – rotate a variety of toys; buy wand toys, balls with bells in them, catnip mice, and crinkly catnip things. Although cats will make their own toys – butterfly clips, bottle caps, elastics, riding crops, ornaments etc., try to find a few items that will interest your kitty. This way, interaction with you is always exciting for your kitty.


#3). Make the toys act like prey. Make it seem like a frightened critter, it runs, it hides, it freezes, it jumps under mats and blankets – but don’t overdo it; be subtle and let the cat set the pace.




#4). Always let your cat win. For the sake of your relationship when playing or interacting with your queen/tom, always let them feel like the winner. Obviously, don’t make it too easy; let your feline-half enjoy the chase. But when kitty comes in for the kill, let him/her enjoy the thrill of victory. Then praise your kitty and feed them.



#5). Play in short intervals. Play between 10 to 15 minutes, or when kitty seems to lose interest, gets tired or if they have “killed” the toy decisively.

#6). Equals when interacting and playing. It’s important to remember that viewing the human-feline relationship from your kitty’s perspective, you are equals, socially; and you are not seen as the being who needs to be revered or obeyed. So, when playing/interacting with your cat it is important that you use toys and not rough-house them with your limbs. And if you have more than one cat, the cats may even compete; as they see you as a resource. Imagine! Now, this is not to say your cats don’t love you. It’s just something you must remember when interacting with your gorgeous feline-half.



#7). A cat is a cat and should rightfully be a cat. When interacting with your cat, it is important that you allow them to be a cat. And that means you should allow them to decide the quality and quantity of interaction with you and the family. It’s important that at least part of the day is spent doing what cats do best – exploring, patrolling, climbing, jumping on stuff and setting their routine, without disturbance or interference.


#8). Showing love…all in the cuddles/pats? A note on playing and interacting with your cat… you may think the best way to show your cat love and affection is through touch, cuddles, caressing and holding. Unfortunately, according to experts picking your cats up and holding them is often seen as restrictive and controlling to your feline-half and usually only tolerated by them because they love you. If you want to create a positive feeling in your cat when they see you, spending time playing with them is a good way. Even if it is five minutes a day.





#9). Playtime doesn’t have to be long or difficult. Let’s be realistic, life is hectic and busy at the best of times. But playtime doesn’t have to be more than 15 minutes. Short sessions at intervals are super; even five minutes is plenty. Cat behaviourists recommend the best time for playtime as just before meals as this fits the hunt-and-eat pattern. Playtime before dinner may also help your kitty be less disturbing during the night (worth a try!).

If you have more than one cat, the best tactic is to have individual playtime for each of them.



#10). Multiplayer interaction. Depending on your cats’ natures, play can happen behind closed doors or while the others observe or wait for their turns. But some cats are bullies when it comes to toys, and are glorified toy/attention hogs. In these cases, the other cats get pushed away and are left irritated and frustrated. The clear solution is to invite each cat to a separate room, close the door, and have some secluded playtime.




#11). A few quick commandments. To treat/interact with your cat in the correct way there are a few simple laws to follow:



Thou shalt not be overbearing. Your cat should always dictate the pace of the relationship; always allow your cat to approach you and don’t be overbearing.



Thou shalt not be bothersome. Don’t bother your cat when they are sleeping or resting.



Thou shalt not disturb the peace from above. Ignore your cat if they are perched on a high place; like a cupboard, high scratch pole/stand or shelf. They want to remain unseen when climbing up high – so, respect that.



Thou shalt not explore sanctuaries. If your cat has a “secret” resting spot, hidden somewhere… don’t waltz into their safe place or sanctuary, pick them up or announce loudly that you found them. Leave them be.



Thou shalt not overdo it. Less is more in the cat world – so don’t over-pet or over-stimulate your kitty – it can actually become painful for them and make them aggressive/unhappy.



Thou shalt not restrict freedom. Allow your cat the freedom to roam the house without constantly making a fuss over them. Cats don’t always want to be the centre of attention. They may chirrup hello when they walk in the room if they want you to notice; if not, let them be.


All cats are individuals and will tolerate or allow different things. What is important is that you respect your cat, read their body language and love them on their terms. If you follow a few simple rules, you will know there is no better feeling in the world than loving a cat and having them love you in return.

A Little About Sparkle Ellie and Sparkle Paws and Glitter Trails:

It’s a massive passion for Sparkle Ellie that animals are treated better in South Africa and beyond. There are just too many sad stories out there, whether from people’s ignorance, or plain just don’t care attitudes; for whatever reason often, animals suffer tremendously. It’s the Sparkle Ellie dream to change the fates of pets and animals in RSA. Today a blog, tomorrow who knows? Thank you for reading this blog and making one South African’s dreams come true.

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