How to make a cat people-friendly

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PIXIE : Grandpa, Claire’s dad, came yesterday to celebrate his birthday at home. Zorro came to say hello to him, got petted, remained in the lounge with the humans, in brief, a perfect host. I did not even come to say hello. I crossed just once the lounge to show him that I was there, then I left in another room. I reappeared only when he had left. Claire says that I am a small savage, and she’s maybe right.

To feel at ease with humans other than his owns (or other animals), a kitten must be friendly manipulated by a maximum number of people (adults and children). Frequent different experiences, of moderate intensity, and not traumatizing, will help him to dread serenely the novelties that he will meet afterward.

This phase of socialization is short (as soon as the kitten opens eyes, between his second and his fifth week of life approximately) ; it’s there that the kitten is going to learn to communicate with the world which surrounds him and to react to new experiences. It’s during this period that it’s the easiest to accustom him to car trips and to his PTU by making him frequently do short trips.

But then, with a grown-up cat, how can it be done ?
How can I become less shy ?
All is not lost : we can accustom a grown-up cat to be less afraid of the unknowns in his familiar environment, or to live more serenely a transport for example, by confronting him little by little with these situations, daily but briefly, as far as he always feels safe, and as far as he can run away if he wishes.

We often merge “people-friendly” and “social” :
getting people-friendly, I just spoke about it above : it’s the capacity to become integrated into his environment, to interact with it, and to react serenely to new experiences
getting social takes place earlier, during the first month of life of the kitten until his third month approximately : it’s the integration of the kitten in the cat society, his capacity to communicate and to react as a cat among other cats, and his knowledge of the rules of feline propriety.

How does it happen with you ? Do you leave hiding UTB at the first ring, or do you come to say hello to the guests and to participate in the conversation ?

48 thoughts on “How to make a cat people-friendly

  1. Toby

    I was handled as a kitten – from the moment I was born so I love people! Simon will tolerate people once he gets to know you. BobbieSue barely tolerates mom touching her and only our Granmama has ever seen her – she is afraid of humans!!!

  2. Summer

    This is why my human keeps taking me to cat shows, and even lets the public interact with me when a lot of other humans don’t allow it with their cats who are competing – she wants me to always be willing to meet and be admired by new people!

  3. Sammy

    Sam was not socialized as a kitten…….we didn’t have a lot of company and he bonded beautifully with US, but strangers frightened him. He would run for the basement when the doorbell rang……but for the last couple of years now that he’s a “Senior”, he’s more curious and will allow himself to make a “grand appearance” in front of strangers…….it’s fun to watch and we’re happy that he’s let his walls down a bit and become more social. It’s fun to see him enjoying company!


  4. caren gittleman

    Cody is DEFINITELY a “people-cat” I think that is because he was adopted at a young age (approx 10 weeks old), he lived in a wonderful foster home before I adopted him. His foster mother adored him and she used to call him “Prince”, he was her favorite. He was taken to adoption events every weekend (and was handled), until I adopted him. Cody will greet everyone who enters our home….(he isn’t that fond of children though and I can’t say that I blame him lol)

    My Angel Bobo wasn’t overly friendly. It took him time to warm up to people. I had found him when he was a stray and he was 6 months old, I don’t know what his life was like prior to my adopting him, but I imagine that is why he wasn’t fond of people except for me and people that he got to know.

  5. mariodacat

    I am a people cat too. When the doorbell rings, I usually come out to see who it is. Then I stroll over, flop on the floor and hope they will pet me. It helps if I look all cute like, then they usually do. M says i AM the most friendly cat they have ever had and I’ve been that way since I was adopted at the age of 4.

  6. Random Felines

    most everyone here is relatively shy. mom tries to work really hard with our fosters to not let that happen. Mo will greet people as they come in and Ivy will be out but won’t look for attention. Tim hides…unless it is Mom’s friend Kelly (he LOVES her)

  7. Robin

    My Manna is very people-friendly and will happily greet anyone who comes in the door. Cinco on the other hand is UTB any time he suspects that someone could be coming in our home. I wish I would have worked with him more when he was a young kitten.

  8. da tabbies o trout towne

    pixie N zorro……we iz two for two round trout towne…sauce all wayz ran, dai$y does; & boomer N me….tuna…..greet everee one who comes two de door; de food serviss peepulz have ta bee care full we dont go out de door with em…. when de leeve !! 🙂

    heerz two a peppered corydoras kinda week oh end ♥♥♥

  9. Just Ducky

    Mum got both me and Derby when we are about 1 and a half years old. So didn’t have a hand in getting us all socialized. Derby was the purrfect host. He would hang out with everyone. Me, I am a bit shy, I will come out, but feel most comfortable with mum.

  10. Fraidy Cats!

    good info! we don’t get a lot of people coming to our house now or when we were little so we all hide when the door bell rings. we know the routine of the neighbor dogs barking and the sound of the truck when the man in brown shorts stops by such that we hide before he rings 🙂

    pip, smidgen, minnie, hollie

  11. Deziz World

    It depends on da peeps visitin’. Fur instance we don’t like da partment manager at all so after givin’ a good growl and hiss we leave da room. But fur those we like, we’s might lounge round da floor while they visit or check out da stuff they brought wiff them, such as purrses and such. Occasionally me will feel da need to show off me’s playin’ skills and belly floof and sis Lexi will have da need to show off her fysique. MOL So just depends on da peeps. Gweat posty.

    Luv ya’

    Dezi and Lexi

  12. Kitties Blue

    Most of us are very social, with the exception of Fiona; though, she is better than she used to be. So, Pixie, are you becoming more social? C.J. sends a kiss to Zorro. XOCK, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo

    1. The Swiss Cats

      A little bit. Now I hide first, but come after a while to see who is our visitor. I walk around in the room before leaving in another room. I dare to come in the kitchen to drink some water (the bowl is near the entrance) while humans are eating. Purrs, Pixie

  13. Suzanne Dean

    My 3 cats disappear when there is a knock at the door. I believe this is a scare reaction to the dog bark that happens when we are not home (neighbors informed us of the barking). The cats will peak out and if it is a human they have seen before and the dog is accepting of this human then after the 3rd or 4th visit they will stroll in to visit.

  14. Raven

    Happy birthday to your grandpa. I’m friendly with calm people once I gt to know them. I don’t like noisy people, not even my humans on the rare occasion that they’re being loud. You provided very important information about how to socialize kittens and get older cats accustomed to new situations.

  15. Maxwell, Faraday & Allie

    Faraday & max were equally socialized as kittens and still sometimes personality wins over all else. Faraday is just naturally more shy & skittish, though they were both handled the same as kittens. I think sometimes it’s just the temperament they were born with – at least to a degree.

  16. Sadie

    It does take time, and patience. We rehabilitated Ricky and it was a lengthy process. When I have company over he will run and hide for an hour or so and then reappear.

  17. Gattina

    My 4 cats have all a different character and they keep it ! Arthur is the playboy and socializer, Rosie a little bitch, Pookie very sweet and homely, and Kim and autistic cat ! She doesn’t like humans, but would make friend with a mouse !

  18. Denise Gruzensky

    We rescued Shasta late in his life as he was already considered a senior. We introduced him to our life slowly as we enjoy bringing him with us as much as possible. He enjoys being with other dogs, especially small, and really loves to be with people.

  19. Talent Hounds

    Nala was found in a gutter at a few weeks old and handled a lot immediately. She loved to be patted or massaged around her head and neck. She was quite an attention seeker but she would bite and scratch if anyone did it wrong or she was sick of you.

  20. Elizabeth Keene

    Kittens are always much more malleable when it comes to human socialization than adult cats. Unconfident cats might not ever be OK with human interaction (outside of their own people); I have a couple of those. But with any cat (unlike dogs), I find it’s always better to just be still and let the cat make the first move to be friends. I don’t mean ignoring the cat, just not forcing the interaction. It took me months, but I got one of the angriest, borderline wild cats I’ve ever met to turn into a purring love machine. She didn’t care for strangers, but she turned into a wonderful family pet. 🙂 Cats are such complex beings!

  21. Sweet Purrfections

    We don’t greet guests immediately when they come to our house. Mom Paula encourages people to get on our level and start giving us treats. Brulee is usually the first to come visit and Truffle arrive a little later. We tend to become much more comfortable if you stay a while and give us treats!

  22. Christine

    Ninja and Suzi were raised around dogs and people so they are both very friendly, I think it’s very important to have kittens socialized like puppies. Unfortunately one of my other cats has remained skitish around people, I think some things are genetic.

  23. Cathy Armato

    People talk about socialization of dogs a lot but not as much with cats, especially feral cats. My sister was able to socialize one of her feral kittens which I think is amazing.
    These are great tips!
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  24. Cathy Keisha

    When I first came to live here. I used to greet everyone at the door. My fave was the day the peeps order take out. Then they had 2 men come to clean the ductwork. It was so loud and the equipment so big, I got terrified. Now I run UTB even when I here a lot of people in the common hall. To make matters worse, the peeps have company with sticky little kids.


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