Will your kitten ever become cuddly and affectionate?
It depends entirely on you. How you raise them and how you treat them will have a huge effect on how they treat you. Your kitten will show you love only if it feels comfortable and safe enough in your presence. However, it may show it in a different way than you would expect.
When I first saw my new kitten, I was beyond excited to spend time playing with her, pet her and cuddle her in my arms. However, she had a different idea when we brought her home and her first order of business was to hide under the sofa.
Even after the kitten became more comfortable with us, it was still rare to see her show any affection. I started wondering “Will my kitten ever become cuddly?”
Years later, she sleeps in my bed every night and always wants to cuddle whenever I’m working.
It turns out that the saying “Treat others how you want to be treated” can also be applied to your cat.
These are the important rules you need to follow and understand if you want to build a comfortable environment for your kitten. That will make them feel confident in showing their affection towards their owner.
1. Communicate with your kitten on their language
First thing you need to understand is the communication differences between humans and cats. Our idea of cuddly and affectionate is different than theirs.
For instance, picking them up in the air with no escape route can make them feel stressed and afraid. If you keep long eye contact, they can register you as a threat. Try looking away or blinking slowly at them, it shows that you’re friendly. Hands approaching first can also be threatening, warm up to it by allowing them to sniff first.
Cat behavior expert Pam Johnson-Bennett shares that if a cat is approaching you, it could mean they’re looking for something different than cuddling – food, playtime, or something else.
We have to learn how to read the feline language in order to understand what they want, what they like and don’t like by spending time with them. It will make them feel better and more open to interaction.
A little feline baby requires love and care during their development just as much as a human baby needs, especially if the kitten has been separated from the mother before 8 weeks have passed.
2. Socialize the kitten during the development period
Start as soon as you can before the sensitive time period from 2 to 8 weeks has ended. Burgess Pet Care says that if a kitten hasn’t had positive interactions with people until then, they will grow up being more reserved and closed off from showing affection in the future.
The first 8-week time frame is crucial for developing the kitten’s fight or flight instincts, so it’s the perfect moment to teach it how to be social and interactive.
During those first weeks, the kitten is very sensitive towards any influences or changes in the environment, where it’s being raised.
Spare 15 minutes from your day for play time regularly. Get your kitten some toys to fiddle with, to chase around and bite. When they’re little, cats have a lot of energy that builds up and needs to be released.
They will appreciate the quality time and, as a bonus, they’re more likely to want cuddles when they’re sleepy after using up their energy.
3. It needs to happen on their own terms
The kitten needs to feel comfortable and free, and that can only happen if they feel like they have a choice in the matter. Attract them, and they’ll come on their own will. Don’t make them obey yours, because they won’t.
The easiest way to lure cats in is with treats, of course, especially when they’re hungry. They will have the natural motivation to follow what will satisfy their urges, so use that to your advantage.
Place a treat somewhere, where the cat will have to approach you to get it.
If the kitten feels frightened, that means the treat is too close to you for their comfort. Don’t rush it. Be gentle.
It’s sentences you hear all the time, but there’s a reason for that. They need to know they can trust you.
Step by step, place the treats closer and closer. After some point, maybe even your lap will look inviting enough.
4. Build the kitten a safe space
Another thing you can do is give them a place of their own. It could be as big as a room, or it could be as little as a cat bed only for them.
The important thing is to teach them that this is something that they own and can feel safe in. That place should be out of reach for you or anyone else except the cat.
What that will do is calm their nerves, provide security and give them confidence. If a kitten is confident, it will be more open. If it is more open, it will be more cuddly.
5. Cuddling while grooming, cuddling while eating
Eating and grooming are two activities that cats enjoy 99% of the time. That’s why they’re good examples to use.
Give your kitten some treats and make sure to show affection while they’re eating it. They will learn to associate your touch with feeling nice.
If that doesn’t work, use something else they like doing and turn it into bonding time. It’s the best time to make your relationship stronger.
Every cat has different things that they enjoy, and your job is to get to know them as much as possible. Giving them more of what they like is a key ticket to having a more affectionate bond and turning the kitten into a “lap cat.”
6. Pay attention to where they like to be petted
“Pet to relax your cat and not to stimulate her.” – Pam Johnson-Bennett
It’s common to see that kittens don’t like being touched on their paws and tail. The belly is also often off-limits because it makes them feel vulnerable and exposed. See how yours responds and respect their preferences.
The face is usually safe for petting – the head, the cheeks or under the chin. Carefully try gently rubbing them there, but if they move away, don’t push it.
Allow them to choose how much petting they want. That’s just as important. If you do it the way they like, they will look for more of your affection.
Get to know their sensitive body parts, and it’ll be obvious when you see their reaction when that body part is being touched by someone else other than them.
It’s not only about the location, of course. It’s also about how you pet your kitten.
Maybe you’re doing it too harshly. Maybe the strokes need to be longer and to go down to their entire body. Maybe it’s exactly the opposite. There’s no single right answer.
7. Don’t play tricks or be aggressive
If you want to teach your cat that you’re safe to be cuddly with or that your lap is a safe space, don’t try to play tricks. While they’re still learning, don’t use that time to trim claws or to give medication.
Don’t try and discipline your kitten this early. It will damage your bond. Find other ways to train her so that punishment doesn’t come directly from your hand. No water bottles or sprayers.
For example, if the kitten shouldn’t climb the table, put something on top of it when you’re not there, like a sticky mat. They will associate going on the table with an unpleasant feeling.
It’s all about association for them. Once they learn to associate your affection with something bad coming right after, they won’t feel comfortable around you.
Sharp movements and loud talking can cause kittens a lot of distress and push them away.
Acts of violence are absolutely and strictly forbidden if you want to develop a healthy relationship with your kitten. If you want it to be cuddly and gentle with you, you have to show that first. No exceptions.
Cats have natural instincts. They can’t help the fact that they are easily frightened and scared away into hiding. It’s a survival mechanism for out in the wild. Every little thing can feel like a threat to them.
Yes, they are predators, but they are also prey sometimes, according to BetterWithCats.net.
Making a kitten feel comfortable is a process that can take a lot of time in some cases. Even if the kitten is testing your patience, don’t let yourself burst out in aggression. That should go without saying.
Show how gentle you are, and they will be gentle right back.