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Scoop & Snuggle - Warming Up an Aloof Cat
Guest Writers' Forum Article

by Colleen Patrick

Introduction:
Colleen Patrick is a volunteer at the Seattle Animal Shelter, and has been involved in animal care for more than 20 years, including taking care of a farm and all its animals while the owners were away for several months. She also is the creator of Peaceable Pets, a petcalming tape/CD in which she actually talks to the animals in a calm, soothing voice. This is Colleen's third Guest Article at About.

So you have a new cat?
Great.

You've done everything right to select your purrfect pet.
It's a cat. Or a kitten. Sweet, soft, playful, smart.
You have visions of yourself curled up in front of the fireplace with Muffy snuggled in your lap as you read a book with a hot cup of your favorite tea sitting next to your overstuffed chair.

Suddenly, or maybe it was over a period of time, you realize that your dream kitty is aloof and distant. He only lets you pet him when he wants it, and then only for short periods of time.

Sigh.

Disappointment. You still love Muffy dearly, but- he'll never be the little snuggle buddy you envisioned, right?

Wrong.

Here's how to get your kitten or cat to thrive on affection. I call it CP's pet calming "scoop and snuggle" method. Basically, that is what you do. Scoop your kitty up, and snuggle him but good!

It helps if you start them young - as soon as you see them start to get that little distance or be aloof. But I did this with my cat, Cagney, who is now 14. For the first ten years of her life she was aloof and distant. She now loves to be scooped and snuggled!

One woman told me this is the best kitten care advice she received anywhere, and she looked far and wide for kitten and cat care advice.

How to do it:

First, attitude is important. All animals want to feel safe. This is another way to make your kitten or cat feel ultra-safe and happy. And you are in charge - YOU set the tone for the relationship with your cat, not the other way around. You are the boss. When cats think they are in charge, they simply don't respect you. They may love you - madly - but they know they're the real boss and do not respect you. So with the attitude that you are in charge of the relationship and that you want to set its perimeters, you begin to scoop and snuggle.

For kittens, quickly scoop them up and snuggle them in something warm and safe under your arms. Your sweater, your sweatshirt, your jacket, a towel, a blanket or just your sleeve-covered arms. Praise your cat mightily. Talking to your cat is important when you scoop and snuggle. Coo, fuss and tell her what a gooooood kitty she is! How much you love her and what fun it will be to scoop and snuggle!

Cats live for pleasure - it's the basis that professional cat trainers use to train them - and this is pleasure for them. If they fuss or try to escape, simply be firm (never harsh) as you hold your cat and reassure her over and over. Goooood kitty.

Do this several times a day.

For larger cats, you may want to use a towel to protect yourself if they're not used to you being in charge. Again, never be harsh with your cat, but firmly swaddle the cat - including the head. I've even used a baby blanket for both small dogs and cats. And of course, coo and praise them while you do this. The key is to do this many times a day. Don't give up, even if your cat seems to disdain this in the beginning.

Cagney thought I was crazy!

If you have to be a little more discreet about your approach to an older cat, take the towel, and while talking to her, say something like, "You look like you need to be scooped and snuggled!" Then gently but firmly and QUICKLY swaddle the cat (including the head!) and coo, reassure and snuggle!

If your cat is allowed to be on your bed, you can firmly but gently and quickly grab him or her and snuggle her in the blankets (including the head) and again, talk in calm, reassuring, cooing tones.

Any opportunity you can take to get the cat in a confined, soft place, and hold it there while you speak sweetly and softly to her is an opportunity not to be overlooked or dismissed. The more times, the merrier, really. Not only does this reassure the cat you are in charge, but they come to enjoy the pleasure of being scooped and snuggled.

You'll feel the joy of hearing your cat purrr when she or he finally understands what a great gift it is to be scooped and snuggled, and they'll look forward to being scooped and snuggled often!

Good luck!

Colleen
Peaceable Pets

Franny's Note: I've tried CP's scoop and snuggle method with my 18 year old curmudgeon, Shannon, and he really loves it. He's never been a "huggy" cat, but he's coming around!

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