How To Get a Cat to Like You? 3 Tried And True Methods

By Chyrle Bonk, DVM May 20, 2019

Getting a cat to like you can definitely be a challenge. Our kitties have the reputation of being the snobs of the pet world.  Some of them have certainly earned that title, and some just get stereotyped.  Either way, your cat might not be as willing to befriend you as a dog would. However, if you got all the right moves, then getting your cat to like you will be easy and very fun.

How To Get A Cat To Like You?

The basics of befriending a cat come down to patience, patience, and more patience.  Put yourself out there and let the cat come to you on his or her terms.  Don’t try to overpower or rush things. Just show the cat that you’re interested, and let the cat approach you when he or she is ready.

What To Do Before Starting?

Before we go into the details of getting a cat to like you, it’s best to start with what not to do.  Any of these behaviors may have your cat retreating from a friendship before it even starts.

  • Don’t come on too strong

While dogs may appreciate someone coming to them, speaking excitedly, ready to roughhouse and play, cats are just the opposite.  More likely than not, any advances toward a cat will end with a glimpse of the kitty’s tail as he or she runs away and hides.

  • Don’t look the cat in the eyes

Cats use vision as a main sense for reading their environment.  Looking a cat directly in the eyes can be seen as aggression, which won’t make a great first impression.

  • Ditch the noise

Cats enjoy a kind word, but it’s best if spoken quietly.  Keep your voice down and try to have your interactions happen in a room that is free from distractions like dogs, kids, or other cats.

  • Don’t give up

Persistence is key when getting a cat to like you.  Some kitties may not take to you the first time (or even the second or third!).  If one strategy doesn’t work, try another until that kitty is purring softly on your lap.

3 Methods For Getting A Cat To Like You

There’s definitely no ‘catch-all’ strategy when it comes to getting a cat to like you.  Which method is going to be successful will depend a lot upon your cat’s personality and yours. It may take a combination of many different methods before you can finally call a cat your friend.

  • Method 1: Follow the cat’s lead

This can’t be emphasized enough. Go about getting a cat to like you on his or her terms.  This may mean taking it very slowly for some cats and a little more quickly for others.  Cats also can’t resist someone that is playing hard to get.  Ever wonder why your cat seems to be all over the friend that is allergic and actively trying to avoid your cat?  It’s because when someone is focused on something other than getting to know the kitty, they become more intrigued and are able to move at their own speed.  Interactions between people and cats that are instigated by the cat tend to be more positive and last longer than when they’re instigated by the person.  This also means that you let the cat decide when your interaction is over.  If they decide that they are done and walk away, don’t follow.  Instead wait for the next time they come to you to pick up where you left off. 

If you’re working with a brand new cat that is slow to warm up to you, try keeping your cat in a smaller room, such as a bathroom. A smaller room will make it harder for your cat to ignore you, but there is still ample space to hide if the cat sees fit.  Start by spending 5 to 10 minutes at a time in the room.  Read or focus on something other than the cat and then leave.  Do this every couple of hours until the cat feels brave enough to approach.  Once you’ve had several positive interactions in the smaller space, you can try moving kitty to a larger room and repeating this procedure. 

For kitties that aren’t quite as skittish as that, you can still go about getting to know them in the same manner.  Instead of keeping them confined, however, let them have the run of the house. Plan to stop and sit for 5 to 10 minutes every couple of hours so the kitty gets a chance to approach you without all of the activity.

The amount of time that you need to spend on this method will vary greatly depending on how receptive the kitty is to it.  For cats that are very skittish and prefer to watch you from a hiding place, they are going to take several weeks before they work up the nerve to approach you.  More outgoing cats may only take a few days before they’re comfortable sitting on your lap anytime they get the chance.  You know you've been successful when the kitty comfortably comes to you without much hesitation.

  • Method 2: Get down to the cat’s level

Kitties are more comfortable if you are able to greet them the way that other cats do.  This means not standing tall, towering over them, or coming at them with both hands.  If you watch a friendly greeting between two felines, you will see that they touch noses first and then may turn to rub their cheeks on each other.  While sticking your nose in a cat’s face that doesn’t know or trust you is a bad idea, you can mimic that friendly feline greeting with your fingertips.

Start by sitting, crouching, or laying down on the floor so that your face and hand are more at the kitty’s eye level.  Slowly and gently extend your hand and finger a few inches away from the cat’s face.  Then wait and let them decide what they’re comfortable with next.  If the kitty doesn’t immediately run away, consider that a success -  but the true win is when that kitty gently sniffs your fingertip and then leans in for a rub on the forehead or cheek.  You can respond by gently scratching or stroking the area of the face that the kitty presents to you.

This method isn’t going to work until you’ve built up enough trust for the cat to either come close enough to you or to at least not run from you when you’re near.  Make sure all of your movements are slow and that you don’t force anything on the kitty if he or she gets uncomfortable at all. 

The timing of how long to continue with trying this method will depend on the cat’s personality.  If your cat is fairly consistent with leaning into your fingertips for a rub every time you try this method, then that means your kitty is enjoying your company.

  • Method 3: Increase play with the cat

If you want to attract a cat’s attention, then try playing a cat and mouse type game. The more nonchalant you can look while doing it the better. 

Absentmindedly (seemingly) waving a feather wand or dragging a shoelace behind you can spark a kitty’s interest from across the room.  For some cats, the trick is to look like you are not playing. This will help avoid putting too much pressure on the interaction with your cat.  Once the cat engages in the game, continue to keep your distance. Let your kitty decide how long he or she wants to play. 

Set up these play dates several times a day until the kitty is comfortable being around you and willing to hang out even after the game is over.  Before you know it, you’ll have a cat that comes to you asking for a quick game.

More Tips For Getting A Cat To Like You

For some kitties, the 3 tried and true methods may not be quite enough to create a mutual friendship.  For those kitties on the tougher side, you may have to go above and beyond.  But with persistence and time, you can win the friendship of any kitty.

  • Tasty Treats

Kitties love their protein, especially in the form of tasty protein treats. So providing some lean meat treats (such as freeze dried chicken or liver) while you interact may help turn the tables in your favor.

  • Keep it clean

Some cats may have a problem with your housekeeping more than they do with you as a person.  As you may have noticed, cats spend exorbitant amounts of time grooming, and they bury their waste.  So keeping a cat’s litter box, bed, and feeding items clean and fresh will go a long way in winning over a cat’s heart.

How To Get Someone Else’s Cat To Like You?

There are times when you’ll want to win over someone else’s cat, especially if you will be cat sitting or would like to spend more time with a friend without offending their kitty.  In these situations, all of the above tips and methods are fair game  The downside is that you probably won’t have as much time or opportunity to work on them. 

For younger cats that aren’t as skittish, play might be your best option.  Just like when you’re trying to get a child to warm up to you, a little fun goes a long way.  Interacting with a cat through play is sure to help you make a connection faster and longer lasting.  If you want to learn more about cat play behavior, please feel free to read our article here.

Skittish cats however, will be less willing to chase after a feather that you’re waving around or a shoelace that you’re dragging. They will require more foundation building beforehand.  For these cats, using method 1 by following the cat’s lead will be your best bet until the kitty is comfortable enough to come near you.  Giving out cat treats during the process will also help.


The question of “how to get a cat to like you” may cause some people to smirk, thinking that it can’t actually be done.  The truth is that getting a cat to like you isn’t all that difficult.  Once you have shown the kitty that you will take good care of him or her by providing food, shelter, and water, you can then show him or her that you can also provide fun, snuggles, and lots of love.  Just remember to be patient, move slowly, and let the kitty dictate the next move.  If you rush the process too quickly and the cat gets scared away from you, it is not over.  Just take a step back and start again.  Allow even more time for the cat to initiate the interaction.  Whatever you do, put in the effort because the reward of a cat friend for life is well worth it!

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