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8 Tips for a Successful Meet and Greet with a Cat

As we all know, cats have their very own personalities, and first impressions with cats can be very important. Perhaps you are visiting a friend’s house for the first time and they have a cat. Or, better yet, you have decided that adopting a cat is in your future. By paying attention to the tips below, you can make your first meeting very positive and leave just the right impression on your new feline friend.

1. Sit down and get on the cat’s level

Your size may be intimidating to a cat. If you put yourself on the cat’s level, you will eliminate some of the cat’s initial fears.

2. Give her your hand

Reach your hand toward the cat and allow her to come to you. Keep your fist closed and below the cats head. She will sniff, rub, and decide what the next step is.

3. Go at her speed

Let her make the first move and go slow. Don’t be overly anxious to pet the cat. Let her pet you first! Even if the cat initiates contact, you'll still want to take it slow. Let the cat determine the pace of the interaction.

4. Don’t Stare at a Cat

For cats, staring is a sign of aggression. You can make brief contact then look away and to the side. Offer the cat long, slow blinks, which translates to "I mean you no harm." The cat may reciprocate the blinks.

5. Watch Her Body Language

Every cat has areas she loves to be petted and others that are off limits. In general, when interacting with a cat that is not your own, stick to petting in the cheek, chin and neck area. Watch a cat's gestures (tail motion, stares, rapid head turning). These may mean the cat is overstimulated, and this is not what you want.

6. Listen to Her Caretaker

If you’re in a shelter, listen to the staff on hand and let them give you the background on the cat. If you’re visiting someone’s home, let them tell you about this particular cat’s behavior patterns, likes and dislikes. Remember that a cat may be more tolerant with familiar people than with novel people.

7. Reintroduce yourself the second time

You may look or smell different the second time you meet a cat, so once again, take your time and go slow.

8. If the cat doesn’t want to interact, don’t force it.

The cat might simply not want to meet you or interact. Remember, it’s on her terms, so be patient. If the cat moves away, don't follow. That's how the cat is letting you know that she needs space.

Every cat is different, with a different personality and different behavior. Let the cat make the decisions. If you build trust, you’ll have a friend for life!


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