Dear Molly, How do I know if my cat trusts me?
Dear Cat Trust,
Trust is defined as having confidence in the honesty, integrity, and reliability of another. To cats, trust is very important, because they need to feel in control of their world.
When your cat feels out of control, it might feel that you are unpredictable, or that the environment is chaotic. Unpredictability in a cat's environment, often feels like things - and you - are unreliable. When a cat feels uncertainty about its environment, it can develop behavior issues. A cat might begin to feel the need to define or mark its territory - in ways that are not pleasing to you. He may become needy or start to avoid you.
So how do you prove to your cat that you are honest and reliable?
The best way is to create routine in your home; make sure that the cat is fed meals on a regular schedule - and use a food timer if you can't be home for one of them.
Prey Play at consistent times of the day (preferably before meals.)
Keep your patterns as predictable as possible.
Try to keep a calm, serene environment; keep loud noises to a minimum.
Go ahead and pick up your dirty clothes - cats are fastidious and like neat, tidy spaces.
Make sure your personal demeanor is consistent; it really upsets a cat when you yell, or become loud when you are normally quiet.
When you go out of town, have someone come stay with your cat and ask them to keep up the same routines as you provide.
Is all that realistic 100% of the time? No.
I work set hours from home three days a week, but two days I'm at the shelter, and Pico stops eating and is visibly worried. On those days, it's important I leave food puzzles, and cat TV on for him so that he has mental stimulation and a distraction. And on the rare occasion my husband and I have a tense conversation, I make sure Pico gets lots of reassurance, so he knows it's not about him.
Bottom line...when it comes to cats, they need you to be consistent, reliable, predictable, and considerate.