Introduction: How To: Lull Your Cat to Sleep
These are not generally words you hear associated with cats.
But they CAN be!
In this Instructable we are going to explore how to treat (and be treated by) your cat like one of their own, how to become a special friend and companion for your cat, and how to woo them to you for a good, cuddly, catnap.
SIDE NOTE: Sorry about the less-than-hi-def pictures in this Instructable. I had to use my phone for all the pictures, as the up-close interaction with my cat would be very difficult to document with a DSLR camera in hand. ;)
Step 1: Set the Scene
My little boy, Mittens, is usually ready to snuggle first thing in the morning, oddly enough.
We keep him in a sunroom (with tons of cat comforts and lots of windows) at nighttime (since we have a bird in the house we don't want him to hunt while we sleep), and for some reason the minute I open the sliding glass doors and come sit on his couch, he is ready for our daily snuggle time and morning catnap.
I usually set the scene for a good snuggle by simply wrapping myself in a plush, fluffy blanket. That seems to do the trick!
WHY DO CATS LOVE PLUSH/FLUFFY THINGS? It is said by the majority of cat experts, that the general consensus of why cats love plush, fluffy things is because it reminds them of being a nursing kitten with their mother. The "furriness" of the, in my case, blanket makes him feel like he is snuggling with a Momma Cat (me).
Step 2: Let Him Come to You
This is the most important step in a positive snuggle time encounter for the both of you.
Let your cat come to you!!
Simply sit in his general vicinity in your snuggly blanket, and then do your own thing.
A forced cat is a traumatized cat, so NEVER force the interaction.
NOTE: If you have multiple cats in your home, single out each one for their own personal interaction time. This develops deeper relationships of trust, love, and respect with each individual cat, and it helps avoid creating a jealous cat (which can wreak havoc on your home).
Step 3: Encouraging Interaction
Even though you don't force the interaction, you can encourage it with these simple tricks.
1. Scratch at the plush blanket, as if you were enjoying a good kneading of your own. This helps suggest to your cat that he really wants to get his claws in your blanket!
2. Do your own thing. The fastest way to get your cat to come sit on you is to start doing something. Anything. Read a book (in this case, I was doing my worship), get out your laptop, do whatever. The fact that you aren't purposely paying attention to your cat whether or not he was paying attention to you, and that you dared pay attention to anything else, will drive your cat to come and take dibs on you!
Step 4: The Snuggles Begin
And just like that a snuggling session begins!
Now, a complete snuggle session from time of initial petting to time of your cat sleeping will vary (and will depend on a lot of different factors, such as if there are any distractions and, thus, you have to begin again). But generally speaking, it will be pretty quick, about 5-10 minutes in length.
Also, it's important to note that not all snuggle sessions will turn into (or need to be turned into) a catnap. If you make progress with simply having a good snuggle session, but you do not immediately achieve catnap status, take that as a win! Don't try to force a nap on your cat. You will find your rhythm and routine soon enough, and you will be able to tell when your cat wants a nap with you.
Some important tips to remember when snuggling your kitty:
- Do not rub his belly as this will initiate playtime instead of snuggle time.
- Do not try to play with his toys, or be in an area of distraction, as your cat will "snap out of" his snuggle time with you just like that.
- Do pet mostly on his head and under his chin. Full body petting causes an electric effect on your cat (that's why sometimes you see his back twitch when he has built up excess energy). So, try to avoid full body petting except if it's super slow, calming, and only occasionally.
- Do pet slowly and soothingly. Petting a cat quickly will make his back zing causing him to feel uncomfortable. Thus, he will want to get away, either to lick himself, or to shake off the feeling. Either way, it's counterproductive.
- Do find out how your cat likes to be pet, not how you like to pet him. It's important to pet your cat in a way that's soothing to him. Some cats like to be gently pet down the tail. Some cats like to have their paw pads caressed. Some cats enjoy the tips of their ears rubbed. Some cats dig a little back massage. Find what works for your cat and stick to that.
Step 5: Head Nuzzles
Head nuzzles, also referred to as "head butting," "head bumping," and "head bunting," are a very intimate, bonding, show of affection between cat and human. It is not only one you should be the receiver of, but you should also initiate the behavior too.
WHY DO CATS HEAD NUZZLE?
"While it may seem like just a playful form of interaction, it’s actually a significant gesture that’s reserved exclusively for members of a cat’s colony...'When cats head bunt, they’re creating a communal scent in a free-roaming universe. Cats recognize each other by scent first and foremost,' said Pam Johnson-Bennett, a cat behavior expert and author of seven books on cat behavior. Head bunting, which most of us have been mistakenly referring to as head butting, is a way for cats to exchange scents so that everyone in their environment—their colony—smells the same." -From PetMD: article here.
Essentially, your cat is CLAIMING YOU as one of their own! What a tremendous privilege and place of high honor! When you do it back to him, you are communicating the same feelings toward him.
Step 6: Face Rubbing
Similar in its effect, and for the same reasons, your cat will enjoy the act of face rubbing.
This behavior is likewise one you should not only receive, but initiate too!
It's a way to say, "I love you! I choose you! You are one of my own!"
Step 7: Nibbling
Some cats will gently nibble on you as a sign of affection. These nibbles can be referred to as "love bites."
If the nibble does not break the skin and doesn't really hurt, it is a safe nibble. If it gets more aggressive or painful than that, Jackson Galaxy (cat expert and star of the show, "My Cat From Hell") recommends stopping the petting time immediately, removing your hands from your cat entirely, and just being still until the cat calms down back to a loving cuddle.
WHY DO CATS NIBBLE?
According to Meowingtons: "Some cat behaviorists believe that love bites are reminiscent of a cat's kittenhood when their mothers would lick and nibble them during grooming. So if your cat is giving you a gentle nibble, you should take it as what it is: a gesture of affection! Your cat is letting you know that they feel safe and comfortable around you. And believe it or not, though domestic cats aren't usually seen as 'social' animals, they actually enjoy participating in what's called 'allogrooming.' Allogrooming is a social grooming behavior that helps increase bonds among social groups, in this case, you and your kitty; much like a pride of lions!" -Found here.
I also notice that sometimes my cat nibbles at my hand (and may even paw it) if he is trying to bring it back down for more cuddles!
Should you nibble back? I don't personally recommend it. Maybe I'm not full throttle enough of a cat owner, but I don't find it necessary to continue a cuddling session with my mouth in my cat's fur. :) Plus, if you hurt your cat, they may see you as a threat. Your cuddle time will be immediately over, and your cat may not trust you anymore. Not to mention, it's a lot of work to win back a cat's trust!
Step 8: Kneading & Facial Petting
Ahhh...the sure sign you are really making progress with your cat -- kneading! This is a place of deep satisfaction for your cat during your snuggle time. Your cat may also start petting YOU!
WHY DO CATS KNEAD?
"In adulthood, a cat supposedly will knead when it's feeling happy or content because it associates the motion with the comforts of nursing and its mother. Adding further weight to the explanation: Some cats even suckle on the surface they're kneading. Another hypothesis proposes that kneading harks back to a time before domestication, when wild cats supposedly patted down foliage to make a soft surface for sleeping or giving birth. The behavior may now be an instinctual part of settling down. On the other hand, kneading may just be another way for cats to scent and claim an area — cats have scent glands in the pads of their paws." -Found here
WHY DO CATS PET YOUR FACE?
Cats may pet your face for a number of reasons. During snuggle time, however, it's to show affection to you, put his scent on you from the pads of his paws, and to pet you just like you're petting him.
However, during other times, a cat petting you with his paws is to communicate something to you. More information about other reasons your cat pets you here.
Step 9: Sweet Whispers & Little Kisses
Any and all affection is warranted as this point of the snuggling session. Your cat has made himself vulnerable to you, and has shown his allegiance to you in claiming you as his own, so some little kisses and whispering of, "I love you," will be welcomed by your little friend here and there.
Step 10: A Snuggly Position
When your cat looks like he wants to settle down into a little slumber, you can gently move him into a snuggly position.
I have found that my cat likes a position that is either balled up closely, laying on his back like a baby, or closely pressed up to my chest or under my chin.
When your cat is comfortable, he will head off to sleep soon.
Step 11: Relax Your Breathing & Stop Petting
A sure way to calm your cat down, and ready him for either a quick catnap or for bedtime, is to relax your body and breathing. The more relaxed you are, the more relaxed your cat will be. He will translate your energy level as his own.
Also, be sure to slow down how much you are petting your cat. He is ready to sleep at this point, and doesn't need any more petting (which may, at this point, rile him back up if you continue petting him endlessly). Slowly bring your petting down to zero, so he can just relax in your arms and drift off to sleep.
Step 12: Off to Sleep
This is it, he is off to sleep! You did it!
At this point, you can continue on with what you were doing (if it's daytime), or rest comfortably holding your kitty or moving him gently to a place on your bed (if it's nighttime).
Remember, when he wakes up and gets up (even if it's only been a couple minutes), let him go and to do whatever he wants. Enjoy the little moments you have together, but NEVER force your cat to stay on you or with you. Again, we don't want to create any bad or traumatic experiences with our furry friend.
Step 13: A New Habit
Cats are creatures of habit and schedule, so if you can accomplish lulling your cat to sleep even once, you will find it is easier to create a habit of cuddling from here on out (even with the most cranky of cats).
Also, you will find that your cat will come to you more often just to hunker down without you even initiating it or going through the snuggle time process. You have become a safe haven for your cat, so he will now enjoy being around you more!
Step 14: You'll Need a Lint Roller!
If you plan on going forth with your day not looking like you're wearing a new fur coat, maybe invest in a lint roller. ;)
1 year ago
AW! SO CUTE! :3 Gotta try this.
2 years ago
I love it
Reply 2 years ago