There are a few techniques, which aren’t rocket-science but will enable you to calm almost any cat, in almost any situation. It doesn’t matter what breed they are or if they have a particularly aggressive personality. The tips below just work.
I’ve had cats in my life for around 40 years now and 25 of these have been with magnificent Maine Coons. Our latest Maine Coon definitely responded well to these techniques when she joined us at age 16 months.
There are numerous reasons why your cat may feel particularly anxious but usually, it’s related to their environment or their history.
Maybe you’ve moved house or changed things around (cats don’t really like change), maybe another cat (or dog) has been in and has left their scent around their home.
There could be numerous reasons why your cat doesn’t seem as comfortable as it should.
Or, alternatively, it might just be an aggressive cat. Perhaps it wasn’t handled and socialized properly as a kitten or it is a nervous rescue cat with an unknown history. Sometimes it’s hard to really know.
Whatever the reason, you want your cat to trust you. The tricks and tips I describe below will send signals to your cat that tell it you are not a threat.
You will be showing it that you mean it no harm. Your cat should relax a little and you should see the results of this immediately.
How To Calm A Cat
It’s not really that complex. All you need to do is behave as a cat would towards an aggressive cat if it didn’t want to appear as a threat. We’re applying natural cat behavior to the situation. The first two steps we describe are known as the SLOBLY technique when used in combination. This stands for SLOw BLink and Yawn.
1) Blink Slowly Towards a Cat
If you only take one thing away from this post, this should be it. It’s amazing how many cat-lovers I know that have never heard of this technique!
You will notice if you look for it, that when you look at your cat, they may blink slowly and possibly then look away.
This is your cat telling you that you shouldn’t see them as a threat in any way. If you have a cat, go and try this now.
So, what you want to do is quite simple really. The nervous cat will look at you to try and determine whether you are a threat or not.
If there is any doubt, they will assume you are so what you need to do is convince you are not. So, when they stare at you, perform the following:
- Slowly close your eyes whilst still facing them and keep them closed for about 2 seconds.
- Open them as slowly as you closed them.
- Wait a couple of seconds and divert your attention to something else, but do it all slowly – no sudden movements.
Repeat these steps every single time your cat looks at you and remember to keep things nice and slow.
As I said above, if you’re going to take just one thing from this article or just don’t have time to read anymore – just take this one point on-board.
I have been using this technique for my own cats for years but also for other cats. When you do it you can almost see them becoming less stressed and anxious right in front of you!
2) Yawning When Looking At Your Cat
If an aggressive cat is staring-down another cat, you will never see it yawn. By performing this in front of your cat (I bet you’re yawning right now, just thinking about it) you will be demonstrating your lack of threat.
Watch your cat’s reaction when you do this. They will focus entirely on you as you do it and combine this with a slow-blink and occasionally looking away.
By yawning, your eyes will shut as you do it, which will only help your cause. Try not to make a loud noise like some people do when they yawn!
3) Don’t Stare – Occasionally Look Away
Never stare at a cat that’s feeling stressed and anxious. This feeds nicely into the last point actually. Look at them, yes, but don’t stare at them.
If they are looking at you, by all means, look at them, but do occasionally look away. Keep everything really controlled and slow, no sudden movements.
What this is demonstrating to your cat is that your focus is not directly on them, you are showing them that you are not considering attacking them and you aren’t particularly interested.
4) Roll Onto Your Back
When a cat rolls onto its back, it is not an invitation for you to tickle them! That may be what it looks like but don’t be fooled! Take a look at our Harry below:
I mean, just look at him! With his little paws tucked in you would think that this is a certain invite for you to give him a little cheeky tickle. But don’t be fooled!
If you fall into their trap (which I bet you already have done) then your hands will be grabbed by their paws in a matter of nanoseconds and you will not come out of it without some damage!
What a cat is actually doing here acting in a submissive manner in front of you. Often they will do this as you approach and it is a sign that they trust you and don’t see you as a threat in any way.
So, that’s great – but what does this have to do with you calming them down? You probably wouldn’t see this behavior on a cat you’re trying to relax anyway – so mimic their behavior!
Don’t try and do it too close to your cat but relatively near them (they obviously have to see you otherwise you’re going to look pretty stupid) slowly roll onto your back and impersonate Harry in the picture above!
Yes, you’re going to feel silly but what you’re doing is showing that you’re no threat to them. This really works so if you can get over how you might look, do give it a go!
Here’s a very cute video of our Maine Coon, Harry. He rolls onto his back when I get near him, and then yawns. Please subscribe to our new petsKB YouTube channel as we are going to be releasing lots of lovely cat videos in the coming months. Thank you.
5) Let Them Come To You
Don’t try and force the issue with a cat. Give them space and don’t crowd them. They will feel intimidated if they keep getting approached by people.
You will be able to do this eventually but not at the outset if they are very anxious. Always let a cat make the first move.
Just get down on their level, follow the ideas I’ve mentioned above, and don’t pay them much attention. The idea behind this is that they will become more comfortable with you over time.
So, just sit on the floor, minding your own business for a bit. Then, after a while, get up and just get on with stuff. Repeat and eventually, you will find they become more comfortable in your presence.
This is because they no longer will be able to associate you with any kind of threat as they will have become more accustomed to you.
6) Don’t Follow Them
If cats don’t want to do something, don’t try and force them. Don’t pick them up and plonk them somewhere if you don’t think they want to be there.
If you’re having fun with them and they wander off, don’t follow them! If they want to leave then there’s a reason for it.
If for whatever reason, they want to go somewhere that they’ll feel more secure they need to know that they can do that, alone.
Remember, a cat is allowed to follow you (which, if you have a Maine Coon you will be well aware of) but you aren’t allowed to follow them! Rules are rules.
Talking of ‘following’, we followed our cat, Mona, around for a whole day and recorded what happened. The video features on our new petsKB YouTube channel and you can also see it below. We’d love you to subscribe as we’rea relatively new channel and would really appreciate your support. Thank you.
7) Remain Calm
Cats can become nervous easily and although some are more nervous than others, generally they don’t feel comfortable with people who make a lot of noise.
This is the reason why they are usually not so comfortable with kids! Cats don’t like unpredictable movements combined with noise and well, this kinda describes children perfectly, right?
When near a nervous cat, you should always remain calm – no sudden movements and no loud noises. This is why training children
Teach your children about your cat’s feelings and needs and how they should behave around them. A child will often forget (or ignore you) and run around anyway but over time, hopefully, they’ll get the message!
It won’t be easy and it won’t always work but if you can communicate the importance of this to your kids, especially if a cat is nervous – it will really help them out!
8) Bribe Them With Treats
I don’t mean bribe your kids 🙂 Although that does sometimes work! I mean occasionally you can improve the bond between yourself and your cat if you have a little incentive.
Keep some treats handy and if you’re sitting nearby and the nervous cat doesn’t seem too keen on approaching, try enticing them with some treats.
Put some on the floor near them and if they seem interested and willing, try and get them to take one from your hands.
We like Feline Greenies Dental Treats because they are a natural formula with added vitamins, minerals, and taurine to offer complete nutrition, plus dental care. They are also conveniently available on Amazon. You can see more details and the current price by clicking this link.
9) Give Them Somewhere To Go
A nervous cat will want to be able to escape sometimes and climbing somewhere high is often appealing to them. Being up high and able to see what’s going on below gives cats a sense of safety.
One of the best things you can do is buy a cat tree. This will allow your nervous cat to adopt the high ground where it will feel safe and also provide it with places to hide.
We love Go Pet Club cat tree. It comes in several different heights and is really sturdy with perches, boxes, and plenty of scratching posts. It’s also conveniently available on Amazon. See the size options and current prices by clicking this link.
10) Use Diffusers
A cat bases many of its feelings of security on the scents it detects in its home. Unfamiliar scents or those of other animals can prove a real hindrance to your cat’s progress when it comes to settling in.
There are several pheromone diffusers that aim to mimic a cat’s own scent to help it feel at home. I’ve had mixed results with this method but I’ve heard so many good things about its use that I’ve decided to include it here.
The scent emitted from diffusers can make your cat feel more calm and relaxed. It can be great in environments where other animals may have been – or indeed to use before a new kitten or cat enters your home for the first time.
Comfort Zone produces a good starter pack of three diffusers plus 6 refills, suitable for cats or kittens. They offer this for sale with a money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied and you can buy it safely on Amazon. See the full details and current price by clicking this link.
These tips really do work. I know – I’ve been using them the best part of my life! I love cats and I have always enjoyed discovering more about their psyche.
I want to understand why some of them are more nervous than others. I love the process you go through when a cat initially doesn’t trust you and you persevere to slowly start to see some results.
Any of the above tips will have an impact but I usually combine a few of them at the same time. For instance, slow blinking followed by a big yawn and then look away for a bit before doing it again.
There are many things that cat parents have in common – it’s like being part of a crazy club. For instance, we all learn how to type with a cat on our keyboard.
For 22 situations you’ll definitely sympathize all too well with, head straight over to 22 Things All Cat Owners Have in Common.
Are you looking for new ways to entertain your cat? If it seems bored and needs more stimulation, you’d better read our Top 19 ways to keep your cat entertained.