Bonding Tip of The Week: The Five Second Rule

2 min read

Molly DeVoss

Cat Behavior Solutions

Hi everybody! Molly, with Cat Behavior Solutions, back again this week with another bonding tip. This week’s bonding tip is called “The Five Second Rule,” and no, I don’t mean when you drop food on the floor that’s safe to eat before five seconds pass—that’s a good one, but it definitely doesn’t apply to cats!

No—this Five Second Rule is all about petting. We probably like to pet our cats more than they really want to tolerate, right? A lot of aggression I see in cats is because owners don’t pay attention to the cats’ stop signals. These signals can be very subtle: they could be your cat looking at your hand, their ears going back slightly, or their eyes dilating slowly. Sometimes when I’m petting my cat for a hair too long, he looks at me like, “Are you going to stop that?”

To make sure your cat’s comfortable with your touch, keep it short, and then let them pet themselves. Pet your cat for a count of five seconds: 1... 2... 3... 4... 5. Then, put your hand back up there and hold it there. If they lean into you and rub themselves against their hand, it’s a good sign they want you to continue petting them. If they don’t, don’t continue.

This is one of the tricks to get more affection from your cat. And it should be noted that this bonding tip, like many of the others to come, revolves around a central theme: respect! Cats—whether they’re house cats or prowling the wilderness—like to be in control, and when we cross that boundary by not giving them that control, it erodes our bond and relationship with them. When my cat’s not interested in more petting, I respect that, because it’s about him and not about me—all the time, by the way.

So, for a happy cat, keep the petting short! Stick to The Five Second Rule for the best cat care, and you’ll know if your cat wants more. If they don’t end up petting themselves with your hand, let them go, because we all know: the cat is king, all the time.

Until the next time, keep calm and purr on!

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