Let Your Cat Investigate
You may find your cat tentatively walking over to the visitor. This doesn’t mean your guest should reach over and pet the cat or attempt to pick him up. Your cat is probably doing a scent investigation. He might approach and sniff your guest’s shoes. Let him do his scent work without interruption. He needs to determine your visitor is not a threat to the territory. Keep in mind that scent is very important to cats and someone who comes into the house is also bringing in unfamiliar smells.
If your cat is comfortable and at ease or seems to be wanting interaction after a couple of training sessions, you can instruct your guest to extend an index finger for the cat to sniff. This is the equivalent of nose-to-nose sniffing that two friendly cats would do upon approaching each other. Your cat may sniff the guest’s finger and rub against it or he may back up and walk away. Let the cat set the pace when it comes to interaction.
Every Cat is Different
If you do this exercise a few times a week, your cat may begin to realize visitors aren’t threatening. Even if your cat doesn’t become the social butterfly you were hoping for, it’ll be very helpful for him to not feel frightened or threatened whenever someone comes to visit. Your cat may always choose to disappear into another room and that’s ok. He just needs to feel as if he always has safe options.
Getting Extra Help for Aggressive Cats
If your cat becomes very aggressive when visitors are in the house, the best solution to ensure everyone’s safety is to always provide your cat with a safe and comfortable room where he can be kept while you have company. Talk to your veterinarian about a referral to a certified behavior expert who can help customize a specific plan for you based on your individual cat and the level of aggression displayed.
If you have a question about your cat’s behavior, you can find information in the articles on our website as well as in Pam’s books. If you have a question regarding your cat’s health, please contact your veterinarian. This article is not intended as a replacement for your cat’s veterinary care.