Pets as Comfort Amidst Divorce: How to Best Relate and Show Affection to your Cat

Dr. Joel Stone with one of his favorite patients

The Wildflower Group is pleased to welcome guest blogger Dr. Joel Stone, a veterinarian and inventor of Better Breath for Pets, to our site!

Pets can be a wonderful source of companionship and comfort, especially in difficult times. When we’re down or depressed, snuggling with a pet can bring us a sense of peace and calm. In an especially challenging time like divorce, our pets can be part of our support system, helping us emotionally through rocky times. But as pet owners, we need to be sure that we’re reading our pet’s signals correctly and giving them the amount of affection THEY need, and in the right ways.

In my veterinary and scientific research careers, I have worked with all kinds of animals. One of the things I enjoy most about my job is learning about the personalities of various species and finding the best ways to relate and interact with them.

For the last several years I’ve been working in an all cat clinic and have been able to gather lots of insights on the feline species. Many people, including cat owners themselves, find it difficult to read and relate to cats and interact with them in a way that matches the animal’s needs. Two of the most frequent questions I hear from cat owners are, “How do I know when my cat wants attention or affection?” and, “How do I best show my cat affection?” In this blog, I wanted to share some tips on how to best read and relate to your cat.

Tip #1: Cats like frequent, low intensity interactions

Most of the lifestyles we lead don’t match what cats need. We’re gone most of the day, and then when we get home we want to make-up for lost time by spending the rest of the evening petting and handling them. Unfortunately, that is not how cats are wired.  Cats are high-frequency, low-intensity interactors. Cats want a fair amount of together time, but in low doses. Many cats want physical encounters to be brief. For example, cats will often rub up against you, but then fairly quickly move on.

Tip #2: Proximity does not necessarily mean a desire for contact

Cats like sitting close to their owners and being in the presence of people, but many cat owners mistake this for a desire to be petted, when this is not necessarily what the cat wants. A cat may want to sit close to you, and not get petted. Or, she’ll want to be petted very briefly, and then just sit next to you.

So how do you know how much petting your cat wants or needs? One key is to leave the choice up to the cat. Cats do not typically like absent-minded petting. The correct technique to express affection for cats is as follows. Pet the cat and then stop.  If she rubs your hand or nudges you with your head, it is okay to pet some more. Then, stop again. If the cat wants more still, she will ask you. If she’s done, she will walk away. Eventually you learn where she wants to draw the line, and it becomes second nature.

Tip #3: Think of your relationship with your cat as a conversation

In a conversation, you can’t do all the talking and drown out what the other person has to say. You have to take the time to stop, listen, and read the other party’s cues.  If you don’t, you’ll miss out on what your cat is trying to tell you.

Cats are usually very polite about saying, “No thank you.”  But if you aren’t paying attention to what your cat has to tell you, “Excuse me, I’m done now,” can then turn into, “Hey, cut it out!” which can damage the relationship. By paying close attention to your cat’s cues, you will begin to develop a sense for the amount of physical interaction they want and need.

I truly enjoy helping cat owners recognize the important behavioral cues that will improve their relationship with their pet. If you have questions about how to relate to your pet, feel free to send me an email at!

Dr. Joel Stone is a practicing veterinarian in Colorado, a former research scientist, and the inventor of Better Breath™ for Pets—a revolutionary product that treats and prevents periodontal disease and bad breath in dogs and cats. Email Dr. Stone at or visit to learn more!

Dr. Stone holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Medicine from the University of California, San Diego and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree from Colorado State University.


Let's Talk

Joan Rogliano

Wildflower Group, LLC

(303) 667-5485

4 West Dry Creek Circle, Suite 100

Littleton, Colorado 80120

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