HOW TO HELP YOUR CAT GET COMFORTABLE AROUND YOUR NEW PARTNER
Speedy Gonzales has nothing on your cat. The moment your partner steps through the door, your cat is nowhere to be found.
Can Speedy jump that high? Not a chance.
It's okay, pour yourself some wine and enjoy your night. We can take care of your cat later.
I've got you covered!
I believe the first step to help your cat in any way is to understand them. Once you can understand their behavior, the rest comes easy. Your cat will feel comfortable around your partner with training, time, and patience.
Keep in mind every cat is different. You will need to make adjustments based on your cat; their personality, age, behavior, etc.
Step into your cat's paws
Have you noticed when you open a can of wet food, your cat is next to you in a flash? Their senses are at work. Your cat's senses help them identify their surroundings and hunt.
When your partner is approaching, they can sense them before they make it inside. The unknown scent can alarm your cat. They're only familiar with your scent and those that are common in your home. To feel safe, they will find a spot where they can watch from a distance. This can be a high point or a hiding spot.
You can help your cat by providing vertical space and hiding spots.
In the wild, big cats have designated acres to sleep and eat, called their home-base. As well as an area where they roam and hunt, their home-range. Similar to their big cat counter-parts, your cat designates a home base. This is where they will feel safest. Their home-range is where they rest for some time, like the couch or the window.
For instance, my cat Ali's home-base is my bedroom. She has her cat-condo and her bed right next to it. She hangs out and sleeps here for most of the day. When we have guests over, she runs to the top of her condo. She's at eye-level and feels safe when guests greet her.
You can help your cat by providing a bed, blankets, toys, catnip, and a cat condo so they can create a safe home-base.
Can you identify your cat's home-base and home-range?
The best way to meet and greet your cat
Don't force your cat onto your partner's lap. It can turn ugly fast. Instead, allow your cat to approach your partner at their own pace.
A tried and true approach is to gradually introduce your cat to your partner.
Try helping your cat get comfortable with your partner with any of these methods.
Familiarize your cat with your partner's scent using a scarf or a shirt.
Have your partner meet them from the other side of a screen door.
During mealtime, place your cat's food on one side of a closed-door while your partner is at the other.
Have your partner walk into the room. Every time they do, give your cat a treat.
Jackson Galaxy has a great video explaining this technique.
It may take days or weeks for your cat to be comfortable. You might find shorter and subtle interactions are better.
Your partner's role in your cat's training
For your cat to be comfortable with your partner, they will need to play a role in the process. There isn't much they need to do.
Your partner will need to set time aside to participate in the daily meets and greets.
There are a few things they need to know.
How to approach your cat
Your cat's common body language
Off-limits body areas
The best way for your partner to approach your cat is to not approach them at all until they're comfortable.
Have your partner avoid doing this:
Too much movement
This can scare your cat and cause unwanted behavior.
Have your partner learn your cat's body language. It can tell you how they're feeling. Pictured on the infographic is common cat body language.
Most importantly, show your partner what body areas are off-limits.
The hind legs
It can vary based on how comfortable your cat is.
Don't forget to schedule playtime!
Setbacks you may encounter
There are common setbacks you may encounter
Territorial stress and physical stress are two forms of anxiety your cat can display. Symptoms can look a lot like misbehavior. I've dedicated a whole post to understand, identify, and cope with your cat's anxiety.
Behavior issues can be caused by territorial stress. Your cat will claim their territory in the areas where your partner has been.
They mark their territory by
If this happens, keep them away from the area they want to mark.
Your cat can become aggressive because of the stress. If your cat does become aggressive, take a step back, and isolate them. Don't attempt to pick up or calm down your cat; you can get hurt. Corral them into a quiet room, if possible.
If your cat displays any of these issues regularly; or is doing something they have never done, visit your veterinarian. Before addressing issues as behavioral, your veterinarian will need to rule medical conditions.
What's your next step?
So you've learned your cat's thought process, the best way to introduce your cat and your partner, and what to do if anything goes south.
Now it's time to apply what you've learned. Are you ready?
I think you are. Remember to be patient; this can take days to weeks. Read your cat's body language to determine if they're comfortable. Read this article with your partner, so they know what to expect. Most importantly, take things slow if it's necessary.
Learn more about cat behavior!