You can skip this page if you have spent ~20+ hours interacting directly with a cat.
Cats are not dogs
They are not excited about any person by default, the default is to treat them as a threat.
They usually don’t recognize or remember people as well as dogs do.
They don’t like pets in the same spots or in the same ways as dogs do.
They don’t snarl, growl or bark as a form of warning before attacking. They yowl when being hostile towards other cats, but almost never with humans.
Cats’ tails are especially not like dogs’ tails
Typically a dog is excited in a good way when it wags its tail. If a cat is “wagging” (swaying) their tail, that means they are annoyed proportional to the intensity of swaying, and will not hesitate to use claws or teeth after a certain point. Give them space once you see the tail-swishing!
Cats are territorial
They default to treating the home as their turf, and you as someone to take care of their needs, because they allow it. If they find you annoying or worse a threat, they will consider marking their territory or hissing at you for entering their space.
This means they also value their space. If they are not coming up to you, keep your distance from the cat. You can advance very slowly if you are trying to befriend a cat, but if they move further away or start swishing their tail, give them space
Some cats are tolerant
Cats tend to prefer to have control over their personal space — if they want to be cuddled or accompanied, they will come to you and enter your space. If you instead choose to enter their space, they may tolerate it for a bit, but that doesn’t mean they appreciate it. Repeatedly “invading” their space when they have not initiated it can stress them out, visibly or invisibly.
Signs of stressed cats
If a cat exhibits any of these after 1-2 days of being taken care of by someone new, they may be stressed at the moment, or by that person in general.
Trying to “be small” when people approach or move about nearby
Trying to be extremely still when people approach or move about nearby, while watching closely
Peeing (usually in small amounts) in places other than their litter
Hyperventilating: sitting down with their tongue hanging out like a dog (cats don’t normally do this even after exercise)
Hissing: cats have a terrifying “hiss” when they really feel threatened to try to scare you away. Keep completely clear for multiple hours if you get hissed at.