Not bonding with new cat

nab2013

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Hi everyone.
I was hoping for some advice. I recently lost my cat to cancer in a very traumatic way. He was young and I was very bonded to him - I loved him like a child honestly. It's been incredibly difficult.
Things just felt so empty and so I eventually brought home another cat. He's a 5 year old boy and is very gentle and sweet but doesn't seem to want to interact with me much at all. He's been here about 6 weeks now, and it seems like he's been interacting less with me as time goes on. At the beginning he would occasionally cuddle with me on the sofa and he slept in bed with me at night. Now he never sits with me on the sofa and sleeps in another room. He also doesn't seem to like being pet - I try to sit at his level and hold out my hand so he can sniff it, but he just turns his head away. If I try to pet his head he'll get up and walk away. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. I've mostly been trying to wait for him to come to me but it doesn't seem like that's working.
He does follow me from room to room, and he comes to the door whenever I get home. He seems to always want to be in the same room as me, but sitting in another chair rather than right next to me.
I've tried winning his affection with treats. I live alone so I'm the one who gives him all his meals, cleans his litter box etc. I also play with him every night which he seems to enjoy. He spends a lot of time during the day looking out the windows and doesn't seem bored.
Anyway, I'm just not sure if there's any way for us to bond more, or if this is just how things are going to be. Of course I knew he wasn't going to be the same as my previous cat, but I guess I was hoping for at least some of the companionship I had before.
Has anyone been in this situation before and had cats that became more affectionate with time? It's just incredibly sad to think that this is how things are going to be for the rest of our time together, and I'm struggling a lot with the thought of that.
 
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nab2013

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I forgot to mention that I've tried doing slow blinks with him...a few times in the beginning that's what seemed to prompt him to come sit next to me, but now he just turns his head and looks away.
I've also never raised my voice at him or "punished" him in any way whatsoever, so I really can't think of what I might be doing to cause him to become more distant.
 

Furballsmom

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Hello - I am wondering if he's picking up on your stress.

Due to the fact that he comes to the door, and follows you, I think if you can find ways to ease your stress and lower your expectations of him, things with him will happen all on their own.

In other words, I've read so many times that cats will approach the one person in the room who isn't paying any attention to them, and I think it's because that person is allowing the cat to have emotional space, rather than looking at the cat and being focused on the cat.

For a while just go about your day, don't look at him much, talk to him, play with him as you have been, but otherwise just let him be himself and see if you can find peace and a lighter heart in the fact that he's with you, safe and sound :)
 
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nab2013

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Hello - I am wondering if he's picking up on your stress.

Due to the fact that he comes to the door, and follows you, I think if you can find ways to ease your stress and lower your expectations of him, things with him will happen all on their own.

In other words, I've read so many times that cats will approach the one person in the room who isn't paying any attention to them, and I think it's because that person is allowing the cat to have emotional space, rather than looking at the cat and being focused on the cat.

For a while just go about your day, don't look at him much, talk to him, play with him as you have been, but otherwise just let him be himself and see if you can find peace and a lighter heart in the fact that he's with you, safe and sound :)
Hi, thanks so much for your help.

I think it's definitely possible that he's picking up on my stress/sadness - hopefully this will ease with time. I do really hope that he feels safe and secure here. He walks around with his tail up all the time so I think he's feeling confident.

He was at the shelter for a month, and prior to that I think had only one family. So this must be a huge change and adjustment and I really feel for him.

I've been mostly trying to ignore him for the past few weeks, and only interacting with him when he comes up to me. But if anything he's becoming more distant so I was wondering if maybe this is the wrong approach and I should be giving him more attention.
 

rubysmama

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Hello and welcome to TCS. Condolences on the sad loss of your young cat. :alright: RIP sweet boy. :angel3:
If you think it might help with your grief, we have a Crossing the Bridge where you could post a memorial tribute to him.

As for the new cat, it's only been 6 weeks, so he's still getting used to his new home and human. Also it's summer time in the northern hemisphere. Are you in an area where it's gotten hotter over the past 6 weeks. I know my Ruby tends to spend less time cuddled up next to me when it's hot in the house. So that could have something to do with your new boy becoming a bit distant.

And, too, he could be picking up on your sadness, as cats are very sensitive to our emotions, though since he's become less affectionate as time has passed, that doesn't necessarily fit. But still possible, I suppose.

Of course, as Furballsmom Furballsmom posted, cats do sometimes gravitate to the person not trying to get their attention, but since your his only human, not sure if it applies here.

I know you've had a cat before, but there might be some tips in this TCS article that might be helpful:
14 Cat Experts Reveal: How To Get A Cat To Like Me – TheCatSite Articles
 

Furballsmom

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cats do sometimes gravitate to the person not trying to get their attention, but since your his only human, not sure if it applies here.
I was using this as an example, so in other words if the OP didn't look directly at/focus on the cat as s/he goes about his/her day, for a little while, that could possibly help the cat feel more comfortable :)
 
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nab2013

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Thanks so much for your help.

I've been trying to ignore him unless he comes to me, but if anything he's become more distant the longer I've done that. But initially I noticed that he seemed more comfortable sitting right next to me when I was sleeping or just waking up. So I thought maybe he was a bit overwhelmed when I was awake, and that paying less attention to him might help. That's when I started really trying to ignore him. I'll keep trying but part of me worries maybe it's making things worse?

It has been pretty hot here recently. I have AC but it's still probably a bit warmer than it would be in the winter, so definitely could be contributing.

I guess I'm just worried that maybe he cuddled more at first because he was anxious, and now that he's feeling comfortable his true personality is coming out and maybe he's just a cat who doesn't like people much. Of course he is who he is and I can't change that, but I was just really hoping for some sort of companionship and it makes me miss my little guy even more.
My current cat also needs to be an only cat per the shelter so unfortunately there's also no possibility of bringing home another cat down the line if things don't get better.

It's been six weeks so I'm not sure if things can still evolve from here. When I brought my prior cat home we bonded pretty much instantly and after around two weeks I don't think there were any major changes to his personality. Of course I just grew to love him more and more with time, but by around two weeks he was already sitting on my lap constantly and always wanted to be the center of attention. I just miss him and his huge personality so much...
I try very hard not to compare the two of them because of course that's not fair, but it's hard not to think of how happy I was then and how different things are now. Maybe it was too soon to adopt (I hope that's not the case), but I think if he interacted with me even a little more then things would be much easier.
 

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I wish I could help lighten your heart and ease your worry and concerns. You've had a tough go of it.
I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong.
You're not doing anything wrong. You're in a certain amount of emotional turmoil.

From his perspective, he's also been through a lot. Yet almost immediately, he follows you, greets you at the door, has a happy tail and enjoys playing with you, all of which is incredible that he's doing that already.

i personally think that as your grief eases, you and he each will find your level, and you'll be able to enjoy him for himself:)
 
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nab2013

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I wish I could help lighten your heart and ease your worry and concerns. You've had a tough go of it.


You're not doing anything wrong. You're in a certain amount of emotional turmoil.

From his perspective, he's also been through a lot. Yet almost immediately, he follows you, greets you at the door, has a happy tail and enjoys playing with you, all of which is incredible that he's doing that already.

i personally think that as your grief eases, you and he each will find your level, and you'll be able to enjoy him for himself:)
I really hope so. I know I need to just give it time, and I'll try to be patient. Thanks so much for the listening and support :)
 

Tobermory

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I”ve adopted two older cats over the years—6 and 3 years old—and both had been mistreated and were initially scared of me. Among all of the many ways I worked to connect with them, I found it important to talk to them a lot. I couldn’t touch either one for quite awhile, but I always talked directly to them every time I was around them. If they were in a room when I came in, I stopped and talked to them. It was a way to interact that wasn’t threatening to them.

I’ve always talked to all of my cats a lot. My husband loves them, but he rarely talks to (with) them. They’ve all been bonded primarily to me, and I think that constantly engaging them makes a difference, even if I don’t pet them every time.

Not all cats like to be brushed, but Mocha loves it so much that she was willing to come close enough to rub herself on the brush I held out to her. Maybe your new guy likes to be brushed.
 

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Not all cats are going to want to be lap cats and be loved on all the time. I had a cat that could care less I was alive until it was time to be fed. Didn’t mean she loved me any less. Kinda like humans, some of us just want to be left alone to take naps and eat snacks.
 

rubysmama

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It has been pretty hot here recently. I have AC but it's still probably a bit warmer than it would be in the winter, so definitely could be contributing.
Even with the AC, the heat could be having an effect on his need to be close to you. My Ruby, who is a total lap cat all winter long, barely stays on my lap for 5 minutes in the summer time. I also find she prefers to lay on my lap when I have a throw over me, and isn't really fond of my lap at all when I'm wearing shorts. And she's switched up her sleeping locations since it's gotten hot, and instead of sleeping in her condo in the sun, she sleeps on my bed all day long enjoying the breeze from the window. So your boy may be having a similar reaction to the heat, and could turn into a lap cat once cooler weather returns.
 
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nab2013

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I”ve adopted two older cats over the years—6 and 3 years old—and both had been mistreated and were initially scared of me. Among all of the many ways I worked to connect with them, I found it important to talk to them a lot. I couldn’t touch either one for quite awhile, but I always talked directly to them every time I was around them. If they were in a room when I came in, I stopped and talked to them. It was a way to interact that wasn’t threatening to them.

I’ve always talked to all of my cats a lot. My husband loves them, but he rarely talks to (with) them. They’ve all been bonded primarily to me, and I think that constantly engaging them makes a difference, even if I don’t pet them every time.

Not all cats like to be brushed, but Mocha loves it so much that she was willing to come close enough to rub herself on the brush I held out to her. Maybe your new guy likes to be brushed.
I can definitely try talking to him more!

I also tried brushing and I think he really enjoys it. I had previously tried a furminator brush which he didn't like at all, but this time I tried brushing him very gently a wooden paddle brush. Pretty much right away he closed his eyes and looked super relaxed
 
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nab2013

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Not all cats are going to want to be lap cats and be loved on all the time. I had a cat that could care less I was alive until it was time to be fed. Didn’t mean she loved me any less. Kinda like humans, some of us just want to be left alone to take naps and eat snacks.
I know this is true and I guess this is my worry. I would be so sad if this is what our relationship turned out to be. If I could get a second cat (one who was cuddlier) maybe it wouldn't be so bad, but my current guy needs to be an only cat.
 

rubysmama

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I can definitely try talking to him more!

I also tried brushing and I think he really enjoys it. I had previously tried a furminator brush which he didn't like at all, but this time I tried brushing him very gently a wooden paddle brush. Pretty much right away he closed his eyes and looked super relaxed
Awwww... major progress. :redheartpump:
 

Tobermory

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He’s had five years to establish patterns of behavior that didn’t include you! Plus he’s in a new environment, and that usually unsettles cats. Even after living with us for almost five years, Mocha, who’s now 8, seems to still be learning new behaviors. She started getting into my lap after several months, but she got in my husband’s lap for the first time two weeks ago!!

I think if you ignore him, you'll be teaching him not to interact with you. I'd keep talking to him, brushing him (that was actually how I was first able to pet Mocha...and she didn't like the furminator, either. I had to get a different brush.), and petting him gently when he wants you to. He'll come around!
 

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Tobermory Tobermory gives sage advice. Don’t chase after your cat, but don’t ignore him. Talk with your cat. Make up silly cat songs to sing to him. Let your cat know you’re aware of him. Let him know what handsome, well behaved fellow he is. Make him feel welcome in his new home and tell him just how pleased you are to have him around.

The fact he follows you around and wants to be near is a good sign. A bond has formed and now it’s a matter of you and your cat working out the details. Remember, it’s about trust and give & take.

Stop fretting and enjoy each moment now because when they are gone, they’re gone.

What song do I sing to my cat? One is “Belle, Belle, pretty pretty Belle Belle” like the start of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”.
 

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Give it time imo. All cats are different so you can't expect the same behaviors or relationship but it's been not long at all for him to adjust and settle in. My one cat loves all and moved right in as an adult ready to jump in anyone's lap. My other went from don't trust you to ok I'll follow you around to being as obsessed with me as you could possibly get over the course of a year and at several years here now solicits attention from strangers and lets them pet her. Night and day from when I got her.
 
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nab2013

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Thanks so much for the advice, I'll keep trying. I guess I'll just have to wait and see how things evolve.

He's constantly rubbing the side of his face against my legs (he walks by and sort of quickly tilts his head to do that)...I'm not sure if it's a sign of affection or if he's just trying to mark me with his scent.
He's also pretty much taken over the guest room at this point and claimed that bed for himself. He sleeps there at night and sometimes goes there during the day to nap. I'm glad he likes that bed so much but I'm thinking that's probably why he stopped sleeping on my bed.
 
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