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postheadericon One of my cats, cooga, is a burmese

One of my cats, Cooga, is a Burmese. He is genetically designed to enjoy human company and cuddles. He is an attractive cat and his humans can hardly walk past him without touching him. He usually allows us to cuddle him like a doll…he will relax into our arms and enjoy the attention and warmth, rubbing his head against our faces. Cooga is likely to be cuddly all his life. He is bred that way and we are lucky to have him.

My other cat, Coco, is sweet, but not so cuddly. She enjoys a pat while standing on her own four feet, but detests being held. When we first brought her home from the shelter, she was far more skittish, but now she readily climbs onto our laps while we watch TV.

Can any cat become cuddly? Not all cats have the same interest in human company and affection. Some cats are of such a nervous disposition that they find cuddles too overwhelming.

If it is important to you to have a cuddly cat, it helps to choose carefully, and to know what to look for. Most kittens seem happy to be cuddled, but naturally cuddly kittens seek it out. They will quickly relax into your hands, eager to curl up in your lap, and enjoy face-to-face contact. Kittens that stop playing to show interest in you or who worm their way into your hands, show that they like a lot of contact.

Cuddly adult cats are even easier to spot. Unlike kittens, they might not show immediate trust, but if you look at adult cats in a shelter, the people working there will know the cuddly ones and will be delighted to help one of their favorites find a home, where they can get all the cuddling they need.

Once you have a cuddly cat, you can train it to retain these happy characteristics. With kittens, it is a matter of helping them stay that way, while with adults it’s more a case of letting them relax into it.

Regardless of the cat’s age, the following principles will help you to keep your cat cuddly, or to encourage a reluctant cuddler to enjoy it more:

* Wait for the cat to make the first moves. Let them get used to their new situation, and keep your hand around for them to rub their face on. Then you can move your hand down to their chest or stroke their ears. Full contact hugs are for relationships of great trust. Be patient.

* Know when to swoop in, and when not to. Resist the urge to interrupt your cat’s play or mealtimes. Make your move when the cat is already relaxed and open to your overtures, or comes near you. It’s coercive to demand that a cat stops everything for a cuddle. It is essential to good cuddling to be sensitive to, and respectful of, their moods. You will build trust this way.

* If the cat wants to get down, let it go. If you insist, you are not getting a cuddle, you are making a prisoner out of your cat.

* Cuddling should be fun for both of you, and stay that way. Never turn a cuddle into something else, like a good opportunity for eye medicine or a flea treatment. They will mind, and you will sabotage their trust in cuddling you.

* Keep the moment soft and sweet. Squealing into your cat’s ear about how cute they are, or conversely not saying anything, will send the wrong reinforcement. A soft voice will strengthen your cuddling bond.

* You can begin or end a cuddling session with treats. Mealtimes lead to a full tummy, when cuddling might be uncomfortable, but telling your cat how much you love them with a tasty treat is just another form of closeness.

By using these techniques, you can establish whether your cat can be cuddly, if it is not already. It can take time for trust to build and for a cat to appreciate the pleasures of close contact with you. These are especially good rules to teach children who want to get close to a cat.

This world could do with more respectful cuddling!

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