Cats have a reputation as being aloof and independent, so when a cat takes to you and bestows you her ultimate gift -- her devotion -- it's like winning a major award. If you're not feeling the love from your cat, don't give up. Your attention, time and patience are the best tools in the goal to win her affection.
Understanding Your Cat
Maybe your kitty doesn't curl up on your lap when you watch television, or perhaps she doesn't greet you at the end of a long day. That doesn't mean she doesn't care about you; it may be as simple as it's not in her nature to be demonstrative with her affections. Her personality may be such that she's shy, independent or fearful, making her a bit standoffish. If your cat is a bit aloof, allow her time to get to know you so she feels comfortable and secure in her environment.
Time and Treats for Trust
Trust is part of love; to earn your cat's trust, be patient and allow her to come to you. Don't invade her space and pick her up and put her where you want her; you'll annoy her at best and frighten her at worst. Instead, choose a quiet space and time to lay the groundwork for getting her attention. Make yourself comfortable with a good book or magazine, with some tempting cat treats on hand. Toss a treat from your chair in her direction and wait until she eats it. Work your way towards you and your perch with your treats, gradually moving the treats closer to you until she has to sit next to you or on your lap to receive her reward. This isn't a one-night proposition; be prepared to spend weeks -- or months -- engaging your cat this way.
Feed Her Affection
For some people, the path to the heart runs through the stomach and it may be true for your cat, too. You can show that you're her primary caregiver by making sure she knows you're her food source. Don't leave her food out all day; establish meal time and feed her according to schedule.
Gently Engage On Her Terms
Eventually, even the most reticent cats learn to relax around their people. If your kitty surprises you with a visit on the bed or sofa, allow her to make her way to you and engage you on her own terms. If she settles next to you, try a gentle stroke behind her ears or whiskers, or under her chin, but avoid her stomach, as most cats aren't crazy about a belly rub.
Learn Her Language
Cats don't understand much about human ways, and cat behavior expert John Bradshaw states that they appear to interact with people much as they do with other cats.
Signs of Love
Your cat can't say those three magic words, but if you pay attention, you'll learn how she really feels. If she rubs her head against you, or casually brushes her tail against you, she's sending you the signal that you're her person. If she "kneads dough" or "makes biscuits" on you, be flattered because that's what she did when she nursed from her mother. She's also seeing you as one of the gang if she grooms you; grooming behavior is part of cat bonding behavior, so if she thinks you need a bath, don't be offended but feel good knowing she's taking care of you in her own way.
If she presents her rear to you she's signaling that she's waiting for you to clean her up, like momma cat did -- another indication of her trust in you -- and if she's often following you room to room, she's indicating she likes your company. She can't bring you flowers or chocolates, but in her mind, a mouse or mole or some other wild thing demonstrate her devotion. Other signs of love, affection and comfort include blinking eyes and rolling around on her back with her belly exposed.
Signs of Distress
Pay attention to her signals. When you pet her, she'll let you know when she's had enough by her twitching tail or dilated pupils. When her ears are flat, she's frightened or ready to fight. If you respect her boundaries she'll be more comfortable and trusting with you.
Talk to Your Cat
Don't be afraid to talk to your cat. Say her name and tell her how smart, beautiful and great she is. She may not understand the words, but she'll get the message if you speak to her in a soothing voice. Engage her like you would a family member or friend, greeting her with a cheerful "good morning," and letting her know you're happy to come home to her.
If you feel a little odd chatting up your cat, try staring into her eyes and slowly blinking at her, a message she'll understand. Gary Weitzman, president of the San Diego Humane Society and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, states that a blink is similar to a wink or a kiss for a cat. A little blink allows you to let your cat know you love her while respecting her space. When she blinks back, you'll know you've won her over.