Something I’m often surprised to be asked is how to raise an affectionate cat. I think we’re just assuming that Mau’s loveliness makes me an expert on the subject (and it does, right??).. So in the interest of cuddly cats everywhere, I’ve put together some ideas of how you can increase your chances of raising a total Mau.
1. Give them lots of physical contact.
This is probably the most obvious suggestion I could make, but also the most important. If you want a super affectionate kitty, then affection really needs to be the norm: occassional cuddles are not going to cut it. We really wanted Mau to be comfortable being picked up and held, so we picked her up ALL THE TIME from day one. She’s had sooooooo much physical contact her whole life, she just has no concept of personal space. She lets us rub her paws, tickle her whiskers, clean the gunk out of her eyes.. Am I selling it?? 😅 There are even times when she won’t stop meowing at us until we pick her up and give her a cuddle (and yes, this can be as annoying as it is cute).
2. Avoid scare tactics.
Obviously there will be times when you need to “discipline” your cat (e.g., training them to use a scratching pole instead of your furniture). Something we’ve been quite careful to do (especially when Mau was a baby) is to avoid using any kind of scare tactics. Instead, we use tone to communicate when she’s done something wrong, rather than trying to give her a fright or a shove. It sounds a bit extreme, but we just have no idea whether she would be able to understand *why* we were scaring her, and we really didn’t want to be sending her mixed messages.
She actually responds pretty well to a low, grumpy tone these days – like when I see that she’s about to scratch the chair, if I use the right tone, she won’t do it (and will head for her scratching pole instead). We also use tone in reverse to let her know when she’s done something right, aaaaand is probably the main reason all our neighbours think we’re crazy.
3. Consider keeping them inside full-time.
Mau is sooooooo much more attached to us than I think she would be if she was only in the house half the time. Having her inside means she’s just so much more aware of us and our routines (and vice versa). Her routines correspond with our routines (in a cute, codependent kind of way). The only downside is that she really seems to struggle when we’re not there (hence taking her on holiday with us last month).
4. Sleep together.
Overnight is when Mau is probably the most affectionate, and when we do most of our bonding. 😍 She sleeps in our bedroom every night, and it’s honestly just the loveliest thing. Her favourite places to sleep are (a) on my chest, (b) leaning up against any other part of my body, and (c) on the rocking chair next to our bed – much to Carl’s constant disappointment. She used to be super active overnight (which kept me up and drove me crazy – Carl always slept through) so we started to make sure she was up and playing a couple of hours *before* we went to bed. That way, she was ready for sleep when we were, and we didn’t miss out on all the overnight bonding time.
5. Don’t leave them alone for too long.
Mau is so used to having us around all the time (and being together) that she really doesn’t seem to like being alone. Working from home definitely makes it a lot easier to be there for her but, as a general rule, we try not to leave her home alone for too long at a time. If you want to foster a more independent kitty, then plenty of time apart from the get-go seems like a good route to take (and I’m sure even Mau would get used to it eventually), but if you want a never-leave-your-side kind of cat, then together is always better.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave them below or click here to send me a private message. You might also be interested in my post on Everything You Need to Know About Mau (although let’s be honest, a Part II is already in the works).