Whether you are introducing yourself to a cat for the first time or just saying, “Sup?” to the cat you live with, allowing your feline friend a moment to decide is sometimes crucial for daily diplomacy. Cats need time and space to feel comfortable with visitors. Approaching them too quickly and reaching, petting or attempting to pick them up can be an invasion of their space. Most of the time, it can end badly for you, especially if you are not aware of their limits. Ever had someone stand too close to you on line or on a bus? As every second passes, all you can think of is escape, or homicide. Sometimes, cats feel the same way about you.
You can ease this introduction if you kneel down at ground level, make yourself smaller and offer a closed fist (held to the floor). This will give kitty a chance to walk over at a comfortable pace, rub against your hand and say hello… or if their not stoked about it… remain exactly where they are. Don’t take it personally. Just be patient and relax those intentions a bit, then offer a fist bump as an icebreaker. Kitty will come over (when their good and ready of course) and return your “fist bump” with a “head boop” (These are not clinical terms).
By offering your hand first, and allowing the cat to head butt, rub and mark you without the intention of forced petting, you also allow the cat to drive the interaction and make a freewill choice. Always think about whose choice it was to interact first. If it was your idea…next time, slow your roll and relinquish control.
Regardless of how many cats you have met in the past and your experiences with their petting tolerance, give cats their freedom of choice to make sure the first impression is the best one! You need that head boop in your life. Don’t mess this up. All you have to do is sit there and extend a closed hand and the next thing you know…boop, boop, shaboop!