How does your cat react around strangers? The fact is that not all cats are comfortable around new people.
Depending on your cat’s personalities and whether they were socialized at a young age, their tolerance and reaction to new people will vary greatly. Some cats would welcome the sight of strangers, and may even approach them. While others are frightened by the mere the sound of strangers, and will retreat to a hiding spot.
Of course, if you are taking your cat out on adventures, it is inevitable for them to encounter strangers on the path. Therefore, it would be helpful to provide them with some training so they would feel more comfortable around new people.
Here are 5 steps you could try to help your cat to be more comfortable around strangers.
Before You Start:
If it is possible, the best place to train your cat around strangers is at the comfort of your home. Your cat would feel more at ease and confident in their own space; therefore, it would be a great location for them to slowly get accustomed to strangers.
Try to introduce your cat to only a few friends and family first; instead of overwhelming them with crowds of strangers.
Step 1: Keep distance between your cat and your guest, and observe your cat’s body language
Depending on your cat’s comfort level around strangers, they may feel territorial, and could potentially hiss or swat at the intruders. As a result, start with a good distance between your cat and your visitors, so you could observe their body language for any signs of anxiety or aggression.
If your cat feels uncomfortable or frightened due to the sight of strangers, keep them near their safe space, either the backpack, carrier, or cat tree to help them stay calm.
In addition, you could let your cat observe the strangers from their backpack until they feel confident and comfortable enough to get out.
Step 2: Lower your body and provide encouragement through pets and soft tone of voice
Since you are the person your cat trusts the most, you could reassure their safety in the situation. Lower your body to their level, and provide them with pets and words of encouragement while they attempt to approach your guest.
Your actions will reinstate your cat’s confidence as they break through their fear of new people, and it will help them to understand that they are safe with strangers.
Step 3: Encourage your cat to approach the stranger using a treat
Treats can always make anything better! Of course, it may certainly help in this scenario.
First, slowly walk a few feet away from your cat, between your cat and the stranger, and lower your body to your cat’s level.
Then, hold out their favourite treat, and speak in soft tone of voice to encourage your cat to approach the treat naturally.
This will help them to feel encouraged to be near new people. At the same time, they will understand that there is no negative repercussion of being near a stranger.
Each cat will take their time to get comfortable. Therefore, stay patient in this step depending on your cat’s reaction.
Step 4: Let the stranger hold the treat, and encourage your cat to approach them.
As your cat would be slightly closer to the new person, pass the treat to them, and ask your guest to act in the same manner as you to encourage your cat to approach their treat.
Ensure your guest lowers their body to your cat’s level, and be gentle and patient with the introduction.
DO NOT physically force your cat to be at a close proximity, as this could traumatize them with the negative experience.
Step 5: Naturally interact with your cat to foster a positive experience
Once your cat is close to the stranger, your guest could begin feeding your cat some treats. In addition, they could also initiate some simple interactions; such as, small pets, and potentially even play time.
I would recommend using a wand for the play time as it could keep a safe distance between your cat and guest, at the same time, make the interaction organic and fun.
Be gentle throughout this process, and do not make any sudden movement or noises to alarm your cat.
Once your cat is feeling confident and at ease with the new person, try to repeat the process with different people as they visit your home. This will help them to be more comfortable around strangers, and reassure that there is no harm being near other people.
It is natural for some cats to not enjoy being around strangers, and would prefer only interacting within their usual caregivers. Just as humans, some people are introverts who enjoys activities on their own without the company of others.
As a result, if you have tried multiple techniques of getting your cat comfortable around strangers, and have not succeeded, do not force them around strangers too frequently. Instead, let them do their favourite activities and have fun!
Perhaps, once they have had more exposure with people outside, they may start warming up to others who are approaching them.