Don’t have quite the cuddliest cat in the world? Were hoping to have a nice snuggle with your feline friend here or there but are finding it’s just not happening? Wish your pet liked to be petted more?
While it’s not always possible, it’s likely that you can turn your cat into at least a little more snuggly version of him or herself.
Just use some of the ideas below, which are all easy to do, and your cat will hopefully begin to be more happy with petting and cuddles in no time.
Your ultimate goal is to help your cat associate “happy” and “good” with being pet.
This takes time, especially if you have a particularly grumpy/non-affectionate, or even standoffish cat, but in my opinion, it’s completely possible to train every cat to be at least a little more snuggly and happy about being pet.
Not every cat is the same, and thus, some of the following tips may work for your cat, others may not.
Continue to use the ones your cat seems to like, and don’t use ones he or she appears to dislike in any way.
Also, a word of advice: When you first start off the process of trying to make your cat happy to be more snuggly, don’t pick your cat up when you’re petting him/her.
Cats barely like to be picked up as is.
If you associate petting with being picked up – it’s not going to help you in your quest to associate “happy” and “good” with petting.
Without further ado, the specific ways you can train your cat to be more snuggly:
Ways to Train Your Cat to Be More Snuggly
1. Pet your cat while he/she is sitting down calmly at the window.
The worst time to try to pet a cat is when he or she is stressed, anxious, wired, alert, in hunting mode, or just not in down-time mode essentially.
If your cat is sitting calmly and coolly at the window, on the sofa, or any other place really, that’s the ideal time to try to go in for a gentle, non-threatening pet.
Do try to only pet once or twice, maybe three times, initially, to make sure you don’t bother your cat and take him or her out of the calm and relaxed state of mind, but a small number of pets shouldn’t be completely unwelcome if your cat is really calm.
2. If your cat really likes to be brushed, pet your cat very gently while you are brushing him/her.
Some cats hate being brushed initially because they aren’t used to the sensation, or they don’t like the particular brush you happen to be using.
Other cats take to brushing at once, really learn to love being pet over time, or obsess over a specific cat brush and adore being groomed whenever it’s used.
Having trouble getting a cat to like being groomed? I’ve had luck with really particular brushes.
My sensitive short hairs love the Kong Zoom Groom, and my sensitive long haired cats, who often have mats in their fur and hate being brushed if their hair is pulled/tugged at too much by a brush, adore the Furminator Bath Brush.
Personally? My favourite brush by far is the Furminator Long Hair, which I use on both my long and short haired cats. It’s so good at getting out all the shed fur!
That being said, I’m happy when my cats are happy being groomed, so usually, I stick to their favourite brushes.
If you have a cat who loves being brushed but isn’t much of a fan of petting or snuggling, give your kitty a gentle pet while brushing him or her so you can begin to associate the happy emotions he or she gets out of being brushed with being pet as well.
3. Right before you put down food for your cat, pet your cat a little bit, then put down the food.
What creature on earth doesn’t love food and being fed? Eating is vital to our survival, so it makes sense we enjoy it so much and are incredibly happy when we are fed – same goes for cats.
If you pet your cat really gently and not for too long right before meals, your cat may begin to associate petting with getting food, which is definitely an incredibly positive experience.
4. Pet your cat (not on the head or face, but on his/her back/sides) while he/she is eating.
Some cats absolutely hate this, and if your cat shows signs of discomfort or disliking petting while he or she is eating, definitely don’t continue to do it.
If your cat is merely a little surprised, or is perfectly receptive to the petting, however, you should be able to get away with petting him or her while he or she eats if it’s done gently and doesn’t distract from the eating in any way.
Again, the goal is to associate petting with happy feelings and emotions, and there’s rarely a happier moment than when a cat is eating his or her meal, so this type of interaction should go a long way in getting a cat more comfortable being cuddled.
5. Make sure you play with your cat regularly (at least once a day).
Sometimes cats are aggressive simply because they haven’t had enough play time, so it’s incredibly important to make sure your cat gets out all his or her hunter energy when you’re in the process of training your cat to be more snuggly. It’s not an easy thing to remember, but it’s important to do.
I find it’s also really, really handy to have a slew of toys cats can play with by themselves strewn all over the house, especially in areas they generally hang out in, as if you’re busy or not even at home because you’re out or at work, they can still have some place to take out their hunter-drive energy.
So important in my opinion for them to be able to get this out on their own if they can, especially because – in my experience – they will typically use things you don’t want attacked (like wires, curtains, toilet rolls and the like), as a replacement for a self-play cat toy if they don’t know what else to do with themselves.
My cats’ unanimous favourite toy they can play with by themselves? The ridiculously affordable Spot Ethical Pet Cat Springs.
They’re an absolute godsend, and while each cat has their favourites besides these (like ball track toys, for instance the Petstages Tower of Tracks or kick toys like the KONG Kickeroo), all love and use the springs absolutely the most.
6. Give your cat a snack while simultaneously petting him/her.
Now, don’t over-give snacks, but a bite of one or two pieces of kibble should definitely go a long way in reassuring your kitty that incredibly good things can happen when he or she is being pet.
7. Pet your cat gently while he/she is comfortably asleep.
Cats are typically much more receptive to snuggles, cuddles, and affection in general while they’re calm and already snuggled in for a sit or a nap.
If you’ve never tried to approach your cat with a gentle pet while he or she is sitting down calmly at the window or having a nap, give it a try and see how it goes.
Don’t make too much of a fuss, and stop petting before he or she gets tired of it, but a few strokes here or there without disturbing your cat while he or she is already at ease should be a good introduction to the process of training a cat to be more cuddly and snuggly.
8. Place your cat in your lap, then immediately give a treat to reward him/her for being there.
This is a more advanced step, and one that works really well if your cat is somewhat used to your touch, but doesn’t like cuddling in your lap as much as cuddling when he or she is on a more firm, stable surface, like the bed, the floor or the couch.
Placing your cat in your lap then immediately giving a treat will help your cat begin to associate being in your lap with the potential of really good things (yummy snacks!) coming his or her way, which should go a long way in helping your cat associate your lap with fond, happy memories.
9. If your cat stays in your lap, confused and hoping for another treat, give your cat another treat to reward him/her for staying there.
Basically if your cat doesn’t stay in your lap for more than a second, that’s completely okay.
Let your cat have the free reign to jump off your lap whenever he or she wants.
If he or she tries to chance things and hangs around, hoping for another treat, give one after a couple seconds to prove that longer time spent just means more chance at kibble, which will feel amazingly rewarding to your kitty.
Not only will jumping into your lap begin to feel positive, but staying and sitting in your lap will as well.
10. Pet your cat, then immediately give your cat unexpected treats throughout the day.
If you begin to surprise your cat with unexpected pets and treats throughout the day, this should definitely go a long way in helping your cat associate seeing you with happy thoughts of potentially getting food.
If your cat loves catnip, a specific kind of kibble (tuna flavoured?), a dental treat, or even a little teeny piece of the plain chicken you cook for your dinner, give a tiny bit of what you have (making sure it’s healthy to do first!), with a little pet before or during your gift.
Your cat should begin to start associating those positive feelings he or she gets when she has something he or she truly loves to eat with the act of being pet.
11. Especially if your cat hates being picked up, give your kitty a treat each time you pick him/her up.
Yes, this will likely mean carrying cat treats in your pocket, or grabbing some before you go to pick him/her up.
Still, it’s important, especially if you have a cat who hates being picked up even for short spurts at all costs.
Your cat will begin to associate being picked up with “this may mean food!” which should go a long way in helping you associate being picked up with a less negative thing (which is likely the loss of control (who would want that?).
The second thing I typically do when cats aren’t fans of being picked up is to practice picking up a cat for only very short periods of time, to get kitty used to the idea that he or she won’t be in my arms for long at all, and they’re going to be free again very, very soon if I pick them up.
I’ll put them down maybe three seconds after I pick them up to get them used to the sensation of being picked up, without all the stress of them possibly feeling like I’m going to keep them there for what feels like forever.
I will also absolutely always put them down the second they start to look, feel, or meow that they’re unhappy or uncomfortable. Thus, they begin to develop the idea that being held by me doesn’t mean being trapped, and they can control when I put them down really easily themselves.
But I Don’t Want My Cat to Be Overweight!
Yes, a lot of the tips and tricks in this article are kibble related, but because I use this simple trick to prevent overfeeding, I’ve never had issues with my own cat, Avery, gaining extra weight before and I know if I stick to using this trick, I never will.
Don’t feel like checking out the article I linked to? Just want the shtick?
Basically, measure out your cat’s food portions (including all meals and treats) from the start of the day, have all this food in one or two containers, and only feed your cat from this portion for the entirety of the day.
If you never pull out any extra, your cat is eating the right amount each and every single day no matter how many times you pull out the feeding jar.
Note that you can get away with feeding a cat snacks that aren’t cat food, and maintain tip top health, if all snacks combined (including dental treats) don’t equal over 10% of your cat’s calories consumed per day.
Want to make sure you never even remotely near hit this in one fell swoop without limiting yourself to never giving out treats? Buy a kibble different from your cat’s standard meal and use that as a “snack” food.
I like to use a kibble that’s by the same brand I am currently using for main meals, but with a different protein source (like salmon if my main food is chicken), since it’s advisable to give cats food from multiple protein sources to keep them in the best shape long term.
More Ways to Train a Cat to Be Snuggly?
I’m betting after having seen my ideas for ways to train your cat to be more snuggly, you’ve thought up some of your own!
Share them with me in the comments so we can help other cat owners who are trying to help their cat to be a little happier about being pet.
You’d likely be helping a lot of cat owners with your advice!