Your cat might like to give the impression of being aloof and independent, but don’t believe them. Underneath that frosty exterior beats the heart of a sensitive, delicate little creature who’s more inclined to hang on your every word than ignore it. Sure, they might not bark and prance around and go a little crazy every time you walk through the door (unlike certain other members of the pet world that will remain nameless), but don’t mistake stoicism for a lack of feeling. They hear you, they understand you, and, in their own little way, they respond to you. The problem is, we don’t always say the right things. The good news? Help is on hand. In a recent article on Yahoo.com, experts reveal five things to never say to your cat. Here they are.
1. I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about
Cats can’t tell us how they feel in words, but they’ll often give little clues through their body language. Unfortunately, we’re not always as in tune with the nuances of that language as we should be. Which is understandable… after all, a cacophony of meows usually just means you’re two minutes late at getting their dinner on the table. The problem is, those meows could indicate something more insidious than simple displeasure at your timekeeping. Unless you’re 100 percent sure of the exact cause of persistent caterwauling, take it as a sign that something could be wrong and get them checked over by a vet. It might be nothing, but when it comes to health, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
2. Come out and play
We all love playing with our cats, but don’t assume that playtime should always be on your schedule. If your cat is hiding under the bed, nestled in a box, or curled up inside the laundry basket, leave them be. Cats love to hide. They don’t necessarily love to be found. If they’ve hidden themselves away, they probably want to rest up somewhere they feel secure. Dragging them away from that spot, even if it’s for a game, is unlikely to go down well. According to Scientific American (www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-inner-life-of-cats/), the best way to deal with a nervy cat is to let them set the pace. Wait for them to approach you. Once they do, reward them with some love and treats. The more confident they get around you, the longer the interactions will become.
Telling a toddler “No!” when they stick a finger in an electrical outlet might work, but don’t expect it to work the same magic on cats. Like dogs, cats don’t respond to angry words and corrective discipline. Shout or scold them too harshly and too frequently, and all you’ll do is damage the bond you share with them. If they’re misbehaving, aim to re-direct their attention elsewhere. A cat tree, for example, will let them direct their scratching energy away from your sofa and onto something more positive. Encourage good behavior by rewarding it with play sessions, treats, and chin rubs.
Obviously, if you’re saying ‘treat’ because you actually intend to give them a treat, there’s no harm done. Think twice, however, about using it to trick your cat into doing something they find unpleasant. Over time, your cat will start thinking of you as the boy who cried wolf and lose their trust in you. Instead of saying ‘treat’ before a grooming session or a trip to the vet, keep both the word and the rewards for after the unpleasantness is over. That way, your cat will learn to develop positive associations with the events without losing an ounce of faith in you in the process.
5. Bite me!
As catbehaviorassociates.com recommends, never use your hands to pin your cat down or wrestle with them. Not only is there a risk you might get injured, changing the tone from play to battle and using your hand as the chief weapon will teach your cat that it’s ok to use your hand as a toy. A few painful scratches and bites down the line, you’ll understand why setting boundaries and avoiding roughhousing is the wisest policy.