Cat doesn't want to be touched


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Jan 18, 2021
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Hello everybody,

First of all- hi to all :D I’m a long-time reader but decided to post for the first time as I recently got a kitten (yay!). sorry in advance for the long post.

We are both no strangers to cats (boyfriend grew up with about 7 cats and I hat one cat as well) so we have waited for a long time to the day that taking a cat in would be a good idea (did not want to trap a cat in a 1-bedroom apartment!). We got our kitten about 5 weeks ago when she was 10 weeks old. She was the smallest of her litter; we got many videos from the family that raised her, and we could clearly see that her brothers and sisters are more playful and more dominated than her. We speculate that the family didn’t really handle the kittens so they didn’t learn to be around humans a lot.

She was very scared and timid for the first couple of days after we got her, but we have slowly started gaining her trust. Now she is very playful and like to chase after her toys and eat lots of yummy food.

She is the cutest thing ever, but she has a few behavioral issues- she has a small fluffy bed that she absolutely loves but she would let us pet her ONLY there and ONLY when she wants it. I tried taking her bed to the living room- if she’s fallen asleep on the sofa and I try to pet her- nope, but if I put her on her bed and put the bed on me (while still on the sofa in the living room)- no problem with that at all.

I’m pretty sure she feels comfortable in the whole apartment as she likes to explore and play in all rooms and beside the bedroom she sleeps on the couch and on the table where I’m working from, so I don’t think that is the problem. And generally, she loves being petted! she learned how to lead us to her bed and meow for a petting session that can last up to 40 minutes several times a day- so not being affectionate is also not really the problem here, I think.

This behavior is really discouraging as everything is happening only by her terms. I know that cats are very stubborn animals, but I have never encountered a cat like that. She will not climb up on us or let us touch her outside her bed.

What we have tried so far:

We are consistently hand-feeding her for the last 3 weeks to build a positive association to our hands. And we tried to purrito her and give her a snack during the session, we read that that what works best for feral cats (even though she’s not feral). I thought about giving her a snack to lure her onto my lap but because she won’t go near any solid food (she’s on a raw diet), stashing kibble in by pockets won’t work and doing it with wet food or wet snacks is problematic. She’s also going just nuts (jumping around and hectically searching for more food) when her food is around so I just don’t see how it could work out.

I know that giving her time to adjust is the first thing that comes to mind, but we are hesitant to leave things unhandled because we don’t want her to get used to this kind of daily life with us.

Any recommendations and tips are more than welcome! 😉

Here are two photos of little Maeve


di and bob

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Dec 12, 2012
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Nebraska, USA
Oh, she is precious! She looks like my Chrissy! Chrissy was a tiny little thing, independent and sounding just like your little girl. She had what was called Overstimulation Syndrome, which does NOT sound like your little girl, but she did not like to be touched and would bite and scratch if she would be stroked over her limit, three strokes. If your little girl tolerates a long petting session, you are fine. I truly think that she is too busy getting used to her new world, being torn from her family, and it will just take more time. In my experience, females have never been the biggest cuddlers, except for one, (out of twenty or so) the one I have now. She was hand raised and that may have something to do with it. Never force her into being touched, do not corner her, let her set the pace. Females are the limit setters, the manners teachers, boys are usually much more into snuggling. Encourage playing with you, pat your lap and tell her she is welcome, treats are a good idea too like you are trying to do. Make sure you are feeding her several times a day as much as she wants, kittens should never be limited on their food, so she doesn't have to worry about food. Stroke her while she is eating, that is the ONLY time I could pet my ferals, they are busy focusing on food and are having good feelings. I hate to say it, but it may just be her personality. Handling her now and petting her every chance you get will go along way, I really think she is just too busy being a kitten and cuddling will come later, on her terms! She is just not used to being handled and you can change that. You earn a cat's love......
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Jun 1, 2017
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Many cats start out with a spot. Its like they seem to think you are safe in that one spot, and everywhere else you might randomly stomp, use the vaccum at any moment or blend them into a smoothy. "The spot" is usuallys somewhere you are quiet and chill - behind you on an armchair, next to you on the couch. We have even had more than one person where the spot was on the porcelain while they were taking a bath -- because they were quiet and chill in there.

Anyway, what you want to aim for is gradual expansion through linkage. The kitten shouldn't be the only one doing summoning to that spot -- you should summon her with a call noise. That way, after a few days, you have a noise that the kitten knows means "I'm ready to pet you". You can try the noise somewhere else where you are quiet and chill, like in your bed. Also try petting the kitten when sleepy.

Gradual expansion can work. Years ago, we rescued a stray. She liked to climb on my chest in bed and get petted long before she could be pet wherever. So I would lay on the couch and make the call noise, making an effort to do that as much as I could. I then tried to use the call nosie to get her to the couch when I was sitting up. Many years later, when she was no longer at all skittish and could be pet everywhere, I was stretching on the floor and she scared the bleep out of me climbing on my chest. We hadn't done the chest thing in a long time, but she remembered.

Just be patient. Even fully adjusted trusting kittens are hard to pet a lot, as they have ants in their pants!


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Nov 13, 2018
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the answer is ... time ... After fostering lots of kittens ... they come in all shapes and sizes and ... personalities ... some cats like to be snuggled and some don't. To a certain point you can get cats used to accepting pets ... it is a long and gradual process and it is very hard not to take it personal if a cat simply doesn't want to be snuggled ... out of my 5 cats ... 3 are crazy snuggly and two are not ... the two that are not came to me as kittens and started out like yours ... only pets sometimes on their terms ... however ... they always showed me love in their own way ... tail swishes around my legs, came to greet me ... gradually over 3 months they have become more tolerant of me petting their lower backs ( some cats simply don't appreciate their face touched, some don't like their backs touched ... trial and error) ... and yesterday one of the non snugglers suddenly slipped under my blanket and stayed there with me and accepting gentle snuggles for a good 10 minutes. Keep on doing what you are doing ... but do not expect to make a cat who might not be a snuggle into a lap cat ... I did have a few shy kittens who started out very independent turn into very snuggly felines but ... some cats prefer love on their terms ... one of my tricks is ... I never press the issue ... some cats feel more secure being ignored and given space ... I always greet them ... and I talk to them ... and I play ... but if they don't want pets ... they can walk away ... it seems to work ... usually even the shyest ones come around