Pet Stockholm Syndrome? You Can Train Your Cat To Love Cuddling (And You!)

Training your cat to cuddle with you might actually lead him to like — even love — you.

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Cats need to know you're worth their love. Sergey_Labutin/iStock/Thinkstock
Cats need to know you're worth their love. Sergey_Labutin/iStock/Thinkstock

Is your cat lackluster on laps? You can teach a cat to pretend he likes you, and, ultimately, Kitty might love you for real.

If you train a cat to cuddle with you, through clicker training and treats, the cat can grow to bond with you, a writer with the Washington Post discovered. Reporter Sadie Dingfelder wrote last week that by rewarding her cat, Fuzz, for coming close close to her, she began to display her value and trustworthiness to her pet, who began to show bonding behavior.
 

It was a long, furry road. At first, Fuzz “acted more like a polite roommate” than a lap cat, Dingfelder said in the article. He generally avoided her around the house, napping in distant corners and going unseen for extended periods.

Dingfelder took action. She made a clicking sound with her mouth and offered treats whenever Fuzz came near — standards of clicker training that have been used for years. He first cruised casually by about a foot or two away then, gradually, started coming closer to Dingelder’s side. Eventually, the two were rubbing foreheads and enjoying lap time, with Fuzz kneading his paws before settling in.

Did this mean the cat actually liked Dingfelder? She had to know.

Fuzz the cat was a little reluctant to cuddle, until he learned how rewarding it could be. Via Sadie Dingfelder/Facebook

Fuzz the cat was a little reluctant to cuddle, until he learned how rewarding it could be. Via Sadie Dingfelder/Facebook

“If the cat suddenly realizes that you’re something that gives them pleasure to be around, they may start to love you,” Barnard College professor Alexandra Horowitz, author of “Inside of a Dog,” told Dingfelder.

Another expert seconded that opinion. Cat behavior scholar Mikel Delgado said Fuzz’s kneading routine showed the cat liked Dingfelder beyond her mere treat-dispensing.

“You didn’t train the kneading, but he started doing it because you tapped him into an emotional state,” Delgado said to Dingfelder. “He acted loving, and then maybe started feeling it.”

This breakthrough shows that cats’ might simply be slow — like, really slow — to warm up to people. But when they do, as we know, it’s worth it.

“When your cat shows you he trusts you by sitting next to you on your lap, purring, that’s a pretty huge commitment,” Delgado told Dingfelder. “You should feel honored if your kitty does that.”

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Comments

  • I have a cat, Elmo, aged 8 years who has periods where he’s friendly, then not so much, then friendly again. What’s up with that?

    Thanks,

    Betty Smith

    Betty Smith April 9, 2016 11:18 am Reply
  • My cat is three years old, she’s very kind and sweet but she hates to be shown affection or to be cuddled. HELP!

    Jerrie April 9, 2016 6:58 pm Reply
  • My grandma lived 103 years and died peacefully with her old cat on her lap. She was a noble cat lady and knew a lot about cat psycho-therapy. Cats have bad moments just like Humans they could be bored in an indoor life.

    Diana B.Krausser April 11, 2016 5:01 am Reply
  • An innteliglet answer – no BS – which makes a pleasant change

    Keli April 13, 2016 11:04 pm Reply

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