Photo Credit: William Hook via Compfight cc
We heard an interesting story from a client recently who could not understand why their neighbour’s beautiful male Persian cat was not very friendly towards them. This client is a huge fan of cats and whenever she interacts with one she makes strong eye contact, flashes a small, tries to pat them and even talks baby like to them, such as, ‘You are so cute, yes you are…’.  You would believe that this cat would be very open to this person exhibiting only positive signs of affection… unfortunately not. This particular Persian reacts as if he has no interest in this friendly person and apparently turns his nose up at her as if he got a whiff of a foul smell. Our client further exclaims that when her neighbour from up the street comes across the cat and does not communicate with him, the cat is suddenly providing this person with their overwhelming attention. Why is this the case? 
For some cats, if you actively try to engage with them they may think you are exhibiting signs of dominance. As a result, cats could view you as a threat and will take steps to avoid any chance of confrontation. This usually means that the cat will be non interactive as was evident with our client. However,  the client’s neighbour who does not even give a cursory glance at said feline is viewed as non threatening and thus a cat would find this person far more approachable. 

It could also be due to cats only liking to be patted on their own terms. If a cat is prodded and patted forcefully without invitation it can be quite an unsettling experience. Cats may then try to find respite through staying in close proximity with a person who is more relaxed in their presence.

Another possible factor could be that the cat is more interested in spreading its pheromones to everyone in the vicinity. A cat is easily able to ‘mark’ its territory with people that pet it or allow itself to rub up against them. However, it is more of a challenge for people that are allergic or who dislike cats, and so the cat would continually try to get close to the person until they are successful at giving them their scent.

Therefore, what is the best way to interact with a cat? It is preferable to not perform any sudden movements, be boisterous and stare a cat down as this is a sure way of getting them running in the opposite direction! Instead it is better to remain calm, maintain eye contact and blink very slowly. You will find that the cat will be more open to you in no time since you are now seen as friendly and non confrontational. The cat may even blink back at you in the same fashion which means he/she is completely comfortable in your presence.