Trying To Get My Cat To Open Up

Pippers

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About 4 months ago, I adopted Princess. She's a very adorable, 1 and a half-year-old domestic longhair. Unfortunately, I don't feel like I have made good progress with her.

At this point, she will walk around when I am within her view, but only if I am moving relatively slowly and making generally little noise. She'll get fairly close to me when I am sitting on the couch but won't initiate anything beyond the occasional short sniff. She will be very vocal with me, usually in the morning into early afternoon, as in when I talk to her she'll meow back. Right away in the morning when I get up to give her food, she will approach me, meowing, and wait for me to set down the food. After that though, she gets progressively reclusive. If I approach her, she generally postures herself to be as inaccessible as possible (between a table, chair, etc). She will let me start to pet her (once she's in this defensive spot) but will get progressively more grumpy the longer I try to pet her. I generally try to give her a few seconds of incredibly gentle strokes on her back and a bit on the side. She sometimes seems to enjoy it a bit, by laying on her side and purring a bit, but soon after she starts to get scared it seems, she starts flattening her ears and looking very concerned and twisting her head around to look at my hand, and will occasionally run away or hiss depending.

So far, steps/habits I've set up between us is: I schedule feeding her, where I lay out the food, wait for her to finish, and then pick up the food bowl. I talk to her daily, anywhere from 10-25 minutes normally, and offer her treats every time I interact with her. When I attempt to pet her, I speak very softly and give very gentle strokes. I don't try to move or lift her. When she starts getting upset I back off and walk away after a bit. I've tried simply playing with her with toys on strings, etc. but trying to use toys to play seems to scare her as well. She'll play with a toy mouse on her own, but not with me.

What am I missing? She seems okay when I keep well enough away. She's eating and drinking, will be vocal with me, and she's curious and will explore around, but she hates interacting with me! Some days seem better than others, but overall, she seems exceedingly scared of me, or at least more so than I would hope for. It's quite saddening!
 

di and bob

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It still hasn't been a long time in a cat's world, so she will just need more time to fully trust you. When you stroke her overlong, it is crowding her and making her uneasy, focusing attention on a cat is scary to them instinctively. she may have overstimulation syndrome, only time will tell. My Chrissy had it in a bad way, she would only allow three strokes and then would out and out attack, biting and scratching. You just have to learn their limit and stop right before. Your cat's limit could be shorter right now because she is new yet. The ears going back is a good sign, as is hair raising,m hissing. and growling. Since she is a female, they are usually not as friendly as males, they are the manners teachers, the limit setters. They are divas that rule with an iron paw! In time though, she will learn to trust and love you, you will see, things will get better as more time goes by, you EARN a cat's love, and when you do it is a treasure!
 

Silver Crazy

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I would avoid petting her for now and just give her a quick touch on the head or quick scratch on the base of her tail as she puts her head down to eat. Say something like..good girl or something like that before the touch so the touch and voice is associated with the pleasure of food. You can also try putting the food bowl between your feet when you are sitting down so she has to be really close to you or standing on your feet to eat...this is making her do the touching on her terms.
If she likes treats put them on the armrest of the chair you are sitting on and progress that to you knee then lap to shoulder and she will be getting a reward for touching and being close to you.
Leave it all up to her and she will get confidant and feel safe while near you.
Also if you walk past her each time a quick touch or scratch on the head or a soft poke in the ribs with a verbal hello or something so she knows what coming and its not unexpected she will get immune to being touched and poked and prodded and she will trust you touching her without fear of being harmed.
It takes time and make it fun and don't stress
 

daftcat75

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I'm by no means a behavior expert, but if you have to crowd and corner her to get in the pets and strokes, I would stop doing that. In fact, aside from meal-time, I would stop trying to force the interaction with her. Treat her like a roommate. Let her come and go as she pleases. I think when you stop pursuing her attention, she'll open up to you. Cats always seem to prefer that one person who wants nothing to do with them. 🤦‍♂️ 😹

At meal-time, I would sit on the floor with her, if she'll allow it. And if she won't, don't force it. Aside from that, I wouldn't try to pet her while she's eating. As long as she knows you are the one feeding her which I'm sure she does by now, she'll show you gratitude when she feels secure and relaxed.

Finally, make sure she has places that are hers and hers alone. A cat tree and a cat cave/cubby would be two great additions to her environment if she doesn't have them already. If she goes to her cave or her tree, that's her space. Don't invade it. Pretend she becomes invisible when she goes to one of her spaces. This includes her current hiding or defensive spaces as well. If she's putting a table or chair between you, respect that. Ideally you want her to have safe spaces up high where she can see all potential threats rather than down low, behind, or under something where she's clearly hiding. Hiding makes her world small. Perching makes it big. Big is better for building confidence. Once she knows that she has somewhere she can go where she can relax without fear of intrusion or disturbance, she may become more adventurous around the rest of the home (and its inhabitants.) If she sits on the couch with you, let her make the first move. You can say hello and talk to her. But don't reach out to her. Let her decide the time, place, and pace of the interactions until she's more comfortable with you.
 

Neko-chan's mama

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Some cats find full body stroking irritating. Just like people you have to find their sweet spot. My cat loves pets on her head, neck, and upper chest. Down her back...meh. I have found that most cats do seem to like their head and chin rubbed though.
 

di and bob

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Cats DO gravitate towards people who ignore them because they do not feel threatened by them. When you stare, focus on, or come towards them, they feel they are being hunted. It is instinctive.
 

dustydiamond1

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Definitely quit crowding her, you wouldn't like someone treating you like that would you? Gypsy is a former stray who decided to adopt us 4.5 years ago. She still isn't a lap cat but by giving her plenty of space and respecting her safe places, never invade their hiding spots except in an emergency, she will allow us to massage her from nose to toes and is always close at hand, her choice. She feels secure and happy having box lids to lounge in as you can see in her photos. She has never scratched or bit and has never hissed at us. She will brush against our legs and we stroke her as she passes, no pokes, pokes can be interpreted as hostile. You are stressing her unmercifully. Sounds like she wants your attention but allow her to initiate petting sessions. Does she like to be brushed or combed? That's good bonding time. Experiment with different types. One of Gypsys favorites is a regular mens pocket comb. Read aloud or sing to her. Sheba meat sticks, break off pieces don't give her the whole stick and Inbra Churu are two treats you can use to reward and get her closer to you. I use the Churu to mix with Gypsys probiotics and she licks the bowl clean. She absolutely loves the sticks and Churu. Good luck, try taking it down a notch or two and I bet she will want to be near and petted by you.
 
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daftcat75

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Also consider getting one of these two albums, Music For Cats and playing it all day on repeat for her. Even a little Bluetooth speaker set up in her favorite napping spot would do wonders. It’s scientifically researched and formulated with sounds cats actually enjoy rather than what we imagine they might like.
Home | Music for Cats | David Teie

I have a stray cat waiting for a pickup by a rescue in a portable playpen. He was singing the song of captivity. 🙉 I put Music for Cats on a speaker next to the pen and he settled right down. 😻

A relaxed cat will grow into a confident and affectionate cat.
 

dustydiamond1

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Gypsy doesn't like the feeling of being enclosed but when she is in one of her many elevated box lids scattered through the house she is relaxed and welcoming attention. If she doesn't feel like the attention she will gently use a back foot to push our hand away or just get up and leave. She ignores her numerous cat beds to sleep in one of her box lid insisting on no padding except for 1 or 2 Barnes & Noble crinkly shopping bags...not their new bags mind you, but the older ones..she will tolerate a bit of thin padding in the kitchen box lid...she's not spoiled a bit.:crackup: 20210125_001915.jpg 20210123_205516.jpg 20210120_233636.jpg 20210120_035044.jpg IMG_20201005_090712_967.jpg IMG_20201005_090712_968.jpg
 

daftcat75

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Gypsy doesn't like the feeling of being enclosed but when she is in one of her many elevated box lids scattered through the house she is relaxed and welcoming attention. If she doesn't feel like the attention she will gently use a back foot to push our hand away or just get up and leave. She ignores her numerous cat beds to sleep in one of her box lid insisting on no padding except for 1 or 2 Barnes & Noble crinkly shopping bags...not their new bags mind you, but the older ones..she will tolerate a bit of thin padding in the kitchen box lid...she's not spoiled a bit.:crackup:View attachment 368250View attachment 368251View attachment 368252View attachment 368253View attachment 368256View attachment 368257
Ah, cats! 😻 So lovably weird and particular. But so damn adorable too. I wish I was ready for a new one. But I'm just not there yet.
 
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