Hey everybody! Molly here, with your Bonding Tip of the Week! This week’s bonding tip is: pet, or lightly touch, your cat when you’re feeding it.
Remember how we talked about feeding your cat meals? Meals are a great opportunity for bonding, and a lot of the time, that opportunity is missed when we just leave out food for our cats to pick on whenever. In order to bond even more when you’re giving those meals, give your cat some physical touch as well.
Think of Pavlov and his dog—well, maybe don’t think of dogs, since this is cat person territory. But remember how he announced meals for his, er, non-cat with a bell? And how even after the food was taken away, his pup still salivated? The pup associated the bell with the food, so even when there’s no stimulus in the form of food, the bell still has the same psychosomatic effect.
So, when you touch your cat while it’s eating, it associates you with the yummy food. When you put that meal down, go ahead and lightly stroke your cat so he really knows where it came from.
This is even more important when cats are very young, because at that time, they’re in their sensitive development period. From three weeks old to six months old, they’re still learning about how to move through the world, and what’s scary and not scary. Touching them really helps them to associate human touch with something really good, instead of something bad and scary—and as a cat parent, that’s the most important thing of all!
So, when you feed your cat meals, go ahead and give them a light little pet, so they know that you and your touch are associated with something really, really great. Have fun doing that this week—until next time, keep calm and purr on.
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