When my husband, Jeff, and I started dating, he was neutral on cats. He didn’t have one, but he wasn’t anti-cat. His last pet had been a friendly black Lab, the polar opposite of my skittish cat Sally.
Yet as our relationship progressed and Sally became our cat and not just mine, the two of them developed a strong friendship. And it wasn’t a fluke. Our current cat, Calvin, is also crazy about Jeff. And Jeff is quite fond of Calvin — the fact that he will move Calvin’s favorite blanket from room to room for his lounging needs is a pretty good sign of that.
His care for Sally and Calvin is one of the many things I appreciate about Jeff. I brought cats into our relationship, and he opened his heart to them, too.
I asked him the other night what advice he would give to guys who are now in the situation he was when we started dating: You like her; she has a beloved cat; you’re not too sure what to make of the cat because you’re a dog guy.
He must have given this topic some good thought over the years, because he had immediate ideas
• You can’t press the issue with cats. If a cat doesn’t want to be picked up, you’re not going to win her over if you keep trying. Give her some space and see what she initiates.
• On the other hand, if you’ve found something that works with the cat, keep doing it. Cats like routines. If the kitty decides you’re the go-to guy for behind-the-ear scratches or for a treat when you get home from work, you’re on your way developing a relationship.
• Cats have a reputation for being aloof. But just because they don’t act exactly like dogs do, that doesn’t mean they don’t want to play, have fun and be affectionate with you. You just have to put a little more work into figuring out what works for that particular cat. Does he want you to play with the fishing pole toy or the laser pointer? Does affection mean petting or just sitting by you on the couch?
• Jeff’s theory is that most guys have a mental image of themselves as a big dog. Imagining yourself as a big cat instead can help you relate to any kitties in your life.
Jeff did not mention working on household projects together as a method of dude-cat bonding, but you can tell from the photo that's been successful in our house!
What advice about getting to know and appreciate cats would you give to guys (or ladies!) who have never had a feline friend? Let us know in the comments section.