Cats are drawn to people who dislike them, which is an irony of feline behaviour. Deconstructing the conduct of cat haters can teach us a lot about cat lovers' behaviour.

Humans frequently avoid gazing at cats while yet keeping an eye on them. They're checking to see if the cat is on its way... oh crap, there it is, rubbing on my leg, jumping onto my lap, purring.

Let's take a look at it from the cat's perspective. In the feline world, all aggressiveness begins with staring. Polite cats are reserved, looking at you for a brief while before moving away. So, when you meet a cat you want to be friends with, make a mental note of where it is in the room.

When humans dislike cats, they avoid petting them. If a cat approaches, people may instinctively pet it once before withdrawing their hand and hoping the cat will leave. Of course, one of the finest ways to make friends with a cat is to play hard to get. So, if you want to make friends with a new cat, let it approach you, offer your knuckle, and let the cat sniff you before petting you (she will push into your knuckle and run her cheek along it). After that, ignore her for a few minutes as she sniffs your legs.

You can proceed to the following step, the Full Stop Pet, once the cat has determined that you are worthy. Stroke the cat from the top of its head to the end of its tail to accomplish this. As you near the end, cup your hand around the tail and continue the stroke as though the tail were 3 or 4 inches longer. Just do it once. You don't start another stroke at the cat's head, as the cat expects. This unfulfilled expectation infects the cat like a recurring song lyric, and it will practically demand that you pet it again. After a few minutes, you should be able to do it twice or three times.

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