The Cat Handshake: How To Introduce Yourself To A New Cat

Have you ever wondered why people who don’t like cats are often the first people cats will seek out in a room? It’s not just because many cats like to be independent and unpredictable. In fact, the way that these people interact with cats can provide some pretty strong clues about the best way to introduce yourself to a cat.

What’s the best way to do a “cat handshake”?

Don’t Pet a Cat Without an Invitation

One thing people who don’t like cats do is not pet the cat immediately. Cats will shy away from strangers who are overly aggressive. People who stay away from kitty and don’t try to pet her end up actually helping her by giving her more time to adjust to their presence.

The lesson is this: Let a new cat approach you first. Don’t pet her until she approaches you and gives you an invitation.

Pet a New Cat Carefully and Slowly


(Photo Credit: Shutterstock)

People who don’t like cats also tend to be slower in their movements. Don’t squeal over a new cat and try to pet her too fast or rough when she approaches you. Instead, just offer your hand to her, knuckles first. Give her a chance to sniff your hand and get used to your scent. Then she may push your hand with her head. Pet her softly and not for too long at first. With a new cat, it’s all about playing hard to get.

Avert Your Eyes and Then Do a Slow Blink

People who don’t like cats tend to also avert their eyes or look at them for just a moment at a time. For some reason, cats like this from new people! So don’t stare right into kitty’s eyes for a long period of time. When you do have her attention, do a slow blink. This means that you close your eyes slowly, hold them closed for a minute, and then open them slowly while looking at the cat. In cat language, this means “I love you.”

Watch Out for These Signs

Some cats are just too shy or too feral to bond with the first time you meet them. If a new cat is hissing, twitching her tail, hissing, or just running away from you, don’t try to pet her. If you extend your hand and she runs away like she’s scared, then don’t reach out to her again until she approaches you and gets even closer to you. Shy cats need to feel like they’re in charge of the interactions.

Introductory Play

If you want to draw a new cat out of her shell, sometimes a good toy is the way to do it. Play time that involves stalking or swatting is best. A wand toy that has a feather at the end can be really tough for a cat to resist. A cat laser pointer toy that shines a red dot might also get her to play a little.

Remember, when interacting with a new cat, the key is to proceed slowly and even be aloof for awhile until the cat approaches you. If the cat belongs to a friend, ask if the cat is shy or likes to be petted. Then let the cat make the first move. If you follow these tips, you may have a new friend before you know it!