My cat is losing social skills and need for affection

zsu1980

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So I had cats growing up and I thought I was pretty well versed in cat matters. But I haven't had cats for quite a few years. About a month ago we adopted a cat. He came from a lady we met and he was very sweet and affectionate at first. He was purring and kneading with his paws, playing, sleeping next to us curled up on the sofa. Obviously he was very well socialized and loved. He is about 11 months old pretty large orange tabby. He is fixed. From the start he has been eating well and using his litter box. I have no reason to complain. But after about 2-3 weeks he started losing interest at interacting with us. He is always gentle and polite but he is visibly annoyed when we approach. He still purrs sometimes but mostly just puts up with our advances. So different than what he was a couple weeks ago when he literally stood on his hind legs to push his head into our hands to pet him. Now he usually takes a few minutes of petting then moves over to another spot. He follows us around and wants to be near but almost never jumps up on the furniture to come close. He used to sleep next to us on the sofa when we watch TV and sleep on my daughters bed. He would jump up on the bed when we read with my daughter at night time. Now he lays around on the floor always near but does not want to be bothered. There are a lot of details though:
1)Unfortunately he came to us infested with fleas. I only noticed a week after we got him. I got his vet records and I see that he was regularly vaccinated. I made the mistake of giving him a bath and that was not going well. After that he was still more outgoing though so I am not sure that is the issue. We are getting this under control now and I think we are on the road of beating it. I vacuum every other day and treat the home every week.
2) My little one is 5 years old and quite loud and high energy. The cat likes to play with her for a while but definitely does not like picked up etc. so I am now very careful that she leaves him alone when he is done. I think things are getting better with her.
3) I think my kitty has food allergy issues. I did not find anything in the paperwork but his right eye keeps producing tears. His eye itself is normal not red or swollen or tender. I also noticed that his paws seem to be itchy and he chews them quite a bit. I feed him dry food in the morning and wet food at night. He prefers dry food but eats the wet food too. I switched his dry food to grain free and he is not crazy about the new food.

OK so my question I guess is what to do. IT seems that our relationship with kitty is deteriorating and I am sad about it. I am not sure how to turn things around. He is a sweet cat and greets us with a little purr-meow each time he sees us. He still puts his head up to be petted between his ears nd likes ear and cheek scratches. He also lets his chin scratched sometimes. But he purrs less and less and started hiding under beds again. (He only did that in the first 2-3 days) So it seems there is something stressing him and that is taking a toll on his affection toward us. I can totally accept if a cat is more withdrawn but that is not how he was in the beginning and I feel that it is our mistake / fault that he is becoming less and less social. I think part of the issue is that we are all home and in his face all the time. But I am not sure how to change that. Especially with my little one. All insight and help is appreciated.
 

FeebysOwner

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Hi. How is he eating/drinking/peeing/pooping - any different from before? While I appreciate he is young, the first thing to do is rule out any possible health issues. The hiding at this stage is particularly concerning. The fleas, while partially under control, may also still be bothering him a bit as well. If he wasn't going under the beds once he became acclimated to your home, it could be that he is hiding in places like that now to try to get away from whatever fleas are left.

The rest of his behavior - excluding his weeping eye - could be the result of a combination of things - feeling less needy now that he knows he has a home with you so he requires less attention than before; being driven a bit crazy by your 5 year old; and having all of you around more often.

Aside from the vet check up, try and reduce his exposure to your 5 year old and encourage her to be 'quieter' around him, and don't attempt to pursue him as much yourself, if you are currently doing that. Also, if the paw licking started after the food change, compare the ingredients in what he was eating before to what you are feeding him now and see if you might be able to identify some possible items that he could be allergic to in the new food.

As a side note: I have been fighting the battle of fleas with Feeby for months now. She started hiding in places she never went to before, and incessantly licks her front legs (not paws specifically). The fleas are much more under control, but I am not sure that has done anything to improve her patience with having them.
 
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zsu1980

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I don't think it's the fleas since he had them when we got him and I think he had them for a while.
But I think you might be onto something when you say that he now feels secure and knows his home well. Maybe some of his purring and kneading was related to being nervous and scared and insecure. And he no longer needs to seek attention since he knows he's safe. I guess that's good :cool:
 

Renne

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I can't comment on possible medical or psychological issues, but I can offer my own experience with a kitten. She was younger when adopted, but a lot more affectionate, as well. She used to greet me with a meow, sleep only in my room, greet me every time I go out and come back home... But with age, even just a one or two months later, she started to prefer to be on her own and she never greets me with a meow anymore.

Maybe it's yours and mine cat's reaction to a new owner, to be overaffectionate for a while and then revert to their regular aloof self? Just food for thought. A kitten in a new home feels insecure and can derive moral support from being temporarily overattached to a human.

P.S. I still think it's more likely your kitten received too much attention from the kid, though. ;)
 

kittenmittens84

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Honestly to me it sounds like he’s actually becoming more comfortable in your house! Not all cats purr when they’re happy, and not all purring is a sign of being happy - cats also sometimes purr to self soothe when they’re anxious or on edge. It’s possible early on he was purring and seeking out people to sit near because he was in a new unfamiliar place and felt comforted by it, but now that he’s a little more settled in he feels safe enough to let his guard down and do what he wants to do. A few minutes of petting is a long time for a cat, some cats like a few pets and then get overstimulated quickly so don’t take it as a sign that he doesn’t like you anymore! He might just feel empowered enough now to tell you to stop haha

I know when I adopted my cat he was ~3 months old and did a lot of purring and kneading for the first week or two, but now he almost never does that - he’s not a lap cat and that’s ok!
 

game misconduct

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its just a teen phase its not a kitten but not yet an adult cat yet my cat had a phase like that but at 2 years and some change now she is back to the same velcro cat she was when i first adopted her
 

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Same here! Got our kitten around 8-10 weeks old. We actually were fostering her, but she stole our hearts when she'd climb up up on our chests and fall asleep. Fast forward to 6-7 month old, and the only way I can get her to sleep on me is by gently picking her up and putting her on my chest while she's already fast asleep. She now prefers to nap under the bed and runs away every time my husband tries to pet her. She went through a pretty good biting stage for a couple months, but I think she's easing up on it. I will say, being an "only" -- she is kind of a spaz! I do play with her a lot but, I miss her affectionate nature she initially had and I hope it comes back.
 
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