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My cat hates me!

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hi, everyone! I'm a first time cat owner, and I'm convinced my new cat hates me! I grew up with a dog but decided against owning dogs after my ex-boyfriend was savagely attacked by one (not my own). I did quite a bit of research, not only in caring for my kitty, but also to decide if I wanted to buy from a breeder or adopt from a shelter. I decided to adopt from a particular rescue center that seemed to have a very responsible policy for accepting strays as well as adopting. I visited the shelter, and though I was attracted to a particular Bombay from the website listing, the amicable personality of another cat, Java, won me over. At the rescue center (located in a PetSmart), Java was incredibly well-adjusted, friendly, and affectionate to me which was a marked difference from the other animals that were stressed from the shelter environment. I filled out the paperwork and arranged to take him home the next day so I could spend some time cat-proofing my apartment. I bring him home to my tranquil apartment and he's completely spooked! Alright, I knew to expect some shyness. I set his carrier down and opened it, sat in a chair and let him alone to explore. He explored the periphery of the apartment and then when he was investigating the upper areas behind my dryer, he mewed softly. It seemed he was stuck so I got up to help him and when he was free, he had a little tantrum, scratching me in the process, and ran to hide behind my television. He stayed there for a couple hours! Through some careful herding, I managed to get him back into his carrier and I lifted him inside the carrier and placed him in the bathroom where his litter box is located. I moved the food bowl and water dish into the same area and closed the door except for a little space for him to budge through if he felt adventurous. I then left for four hours. When I came back, he was still in the bathroom! Why is he so gregarious in the shelter with a small cage, all these sounds and smells, and aggravations but so insecure in my quiet, peaceful apartment with all the amenities he could ask for?! I'm so upset. The entire time he's hiding, I feel is a constant rejection. I feel like a complete failure! How many days should I expect this aloofness if this behavior is even normal at all? His foster owner before me said that he is so laid back, even playing with dogs' tails and allowing puppies to nip at him playfully. Even when he was at the shelter, all the personnel mentioned how sweet his temperament is. What am I doing wrong? Why does he dislike me so much?
post #2 of 18
I honestly don't think Java doesn't like you. If he was in a foster home, them Petsmart, & now you're home, that's a lot for a kitty to go through. Many times, the stress finally gets to them. Some cats may take months to adjust, others only need a few days. It's normal for a week to pass before a kitty starts to settle in.

In the meantime, give him love, attention, toys....maybe a safe place(the carrier works well), and let him adjust on his own. You might also look into getting a Feliway diffuer from Petsmart to help him adjust.
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
An update on Java:

When I went to sleep, Java was still inside his carrier in the bathroom. I was hoping he would gain some courage throughout the night to roam around and do his curious cat thing. I woke up in the middle of the night to some crashing in the bathroom and a sound that was almost like a sneezing fit. I sat up in my bed, worried that maybe Java was hurt and as soon as I moved, Java jumped off the bathroom counter and ran into his carrier again. I realized that he knocked over the toothbrush stand on the counter and was hissing at it. He spent the entire night inside his carrier, and he was still hiding in there when I left for work this morning. I'm starting to worry that all these misadventures in my apartment (first the dryer incident, now the bathroom counter incident) is traumatizing my poor kitty! I don't want him to hide the entire time, because he feels my apartment is riddled with death traps! I put a cat toy in his carrier with him and spent some time talking to him before I left for work today. Hopefully, he'll venture out today while I'm away and eats something. He's not even eating from what I can tell! I'm going to stop by PetSmart and buy the FeliWay Diffuser you suggested on my way home. I'm willing to try anything to have this cat return to his affectionate, sweet ways that I first encountered!
post #4 of 18
He will be fine, he just needs time to adjust! Cats are creatures of routine and they are strongly attached to their territory - Java has just lost the routine he was used to and his old territory (even if that territory were just a shelter cage it is still important to him!)

Let him come round in his own time. To get him used to you, try sitting on the floor and speaking softly to him, or read to him, without making eye contact with him. This will help him to learn that you are not a threat to him.

He also needs a new routine - make sure you feed him at the same times every day in the same place, and when he has found enough confidence to interact with you (and it will happen in time), play with him at the same time etc. Unchanging routine helps cats to feel secure and happy
post #5 of 18
Your cat does NOT hate you!!!!!!!!!!!

First of all, welcome to TCS, and I'm glad you found us! And thank you for rescuing a shelter kitty!

As a "dog" person, you're used to an animal that immediately loves you, that seems to show her appreciation in very immediate and apparent ways, and that is motivated to make you happy. Cats are quite different. You have to earn their love and trust, because they are independent and proud. They do show they love you, and they do share their appreciation - but it's something that happens over time, not right away.

They are social animals, but they are not pack animals. Unlike with dogs, they do not come preprogrammed to look to the alpha for leadership, and they do not come preprogrammed to make you happy. But once you've earned that trust - it's a very different kind of bond than you get with a dog. And when you've worked so hard to earn it, it's really rather remarkable and incredible and something that feels quite wonderful. In fact, I'd have to say that it's a bond between human and animal like no other.

Cats are not genetically programmed to make people happy. (Can I say this like a million more times? ) They are genetically programmed to keep watch over their territory. So changing a cat's territory is traumatic to kitty. Their initial reaction is fear. Your kitty has just been very traumatized, being moved around. He was happy and loving because he'd made the cage his territory, and he knew it was safe.

For now, his territory is his crate, and the bathroom. He started to explore a bigger territory - and in his mind horrible things happened to him! He got trapped, a strange person pushed and shoved and him - and that strange person's smell is all OVER the place!

As he comes to feel safe, he will slowly expand his territory. But the crate or the bathroom may be kitty's territory for a little while. Cats operate on their own schedule, so the less you have some kind of time frame in your mind, the happier you (and he) will be.

But until he's learned that the human in the same space with him is not any kind of threat, he'll probably keep to a very small territory. Or, if you leave the bathroom door open at night and when you're not away, he'll come out to explore when you're not around.

What you can do to help him learn that you're not a threat to him and to make him more comfortable:

1) Sit on the bathroom floor and read out loud.

2) Get a radio and tune it to a classical station, playing softly in there.

3) Ignore him at first when he shows interest in you.

I KNOW you want to pick him up and let him know how loved he is - but he doesn't get that yet! First he needs to figure out you don't actually mean him harm. As he figures out you're not a threat, you can work on getting him to associate you with good things:

4) Get a couple of old t-shirts really sweaty. Put one of these under his food dish. Use the other one to leave treats out on for him - you don't have to be there when he eats them. Put the t-shirt down, put treats on it, and leave. Or sit there on the floor reading. If he doesn't come out, leave them for him to eat after you've left.

Cats learn by association. It's totally different than with dogs. So by getting him to to associate you with food and good things, that will help him come around.

5) If he comes out of the crate or bathroom and is wherever you are, don't look him in the eyes. This is a sign of aggression. Look at his forehead or over his head. Better yet - if you're on the floor reading out loud or something, ignore him, and stretch your arm out a little bit - PALM DOWN. For dogs it's palm up - for cats, palm down is less threatening.

6) If he sniffs, let him - don't try to pet him. The first thing you need to establish is that you don't want anything from him, you don't want to do anything to him. Once he gets this, then he'll let you know when he wants attention and/or pets by "bumping" you. He'll either rub up against you - or he'll literally bump your hand or arm or leg with his head.

7) When you get to the point where you're petting kitty, do NOT pet kitty's tummy. Some cats do like to have their tummies rubbed. Some cats come to enjoy it. But at first - avoid it. Cats get overstimulated very easily. They often "drop" to their sides and roll - and it looks like an invitation to rub a tummy. Especially to dog people. This is rarely what they want. Our kitties flop over, and still want to be petted on their cheeks - sometimes under the chin. Cats have scent glands in their cheeks - it starts at the back of the gum - and this scent gland puts out "friendly" markers. For some reason they love having this stimulated. But when you see the end of their tail begin to flick, stop. Otherwise kitty may give you a quick bite. Some cats are good about this - giving signals that they've had enough, or that they're starting to get overstimulated - other cats aren't. And the way they then communicate they've had enough is to a) give you a quick bite (often it's more like put their teeth on you - but if you're new to kitties and he's really overstimulated, he may give you an actual bite - but not break skin - enough to let you know "stop." ) or b) put their paw on your hand. Again - it's the opposite of dogs. With cats, the paw on your hand almost always means "stop," not "more."

The Feliway should really help your kitty adjust to his new environment without as much stress!

Most importantly - feel free to ask lots of questions! I didn't know a thing about cats - and they are SO different than dogs, and if you work on changing your expectations and just let kitty be kitty, and go through his adjustment process, you'll be converted to a kitty lover in no time at all - and you'll be amazed at the bond you'll have with your new baby boy.

post #6 of 18
Oh - I did forget, and Epona is SO right. Setting up a schedule and keeping it will REALLY help. Sit in the bathroom to read to kitty at the same time every day - unless he's out and about quickly.

We let our kitties free feed on dry food, but we do serve them one meal of wet food every day. (Make sure you're aware of the pet food recall! Please visit the health forum for more information!)

Time, food, and play (especially with wand toys) will be your biggest allies.

...and do leave toys without strings attached to them out for kitty to play with, even if he won't play in your presence at first. But do make sure you put any wand-type toys in a closet or something where kitty cannot get at them. Cats often love to chew on the string - and if they swallow it, it can get wrapped around their intestines and it can require surgery to remove it. We didn't think about this, and spent a few days examing poop to make sure kitty passed the string she ate!

post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much for your advice! I'll be sure to keep all that in mind. I feel so much more in control and less rejected knowing all this.
post #8 of 18
It sounds like you really care and that is the most important thing. All the advise that's been given so far is wonderful. So the best advice I can give is to try not to be stressed. Cat's are funny creatures and they can really pick up on your emotions.

When I moved to a new home 7 years ago with my 12 year old cat she spent 7 day hiding under my sofa. She would come out and use the cat pan, eat food, but never when I was around. I would check on her everyday. So I let her decide when she was ready to come out. And of course she did.

All cats are different and some can handle stress better than other. They are not like dogs, who have a tendency to adjust to changing situations much better.

Hang in there. L.
post #9 of 18
I am trying to determine from your post exactly how many days you have had your kitty. I have had many rescued cats in the past and I worried about every single one of them and whether they were going to like me. I can tell you that none of the cats immediately felt at home. It took time in every case. So I would not worry, I am quite sure that your cat is going to like you very much because I can tell you are a caring person. Alley, the latest cat I brought home, stayed under the bed for a week, only coming out to eat and drink and use the litter, which were all right by the bed she hid under. In Alley's case, she had two frightning things to overcome; a new home and the fact there was already a cat living there. But like all my cats in the past, she came around and is sitting right here on my lap while I type this. I am sure yours will come around too. I guess I am a bad one to be telling you not to worry because I worried over every one of them but just remember things are going to be OK. I am sending special vibes your way.
post #10 of 18
I'd try not to worry about it so much (I know that's hard!) and just take it slowly. In the last 4 months I've adopted 2 kitties after being a dog owner almost my entire life.

Loki settled in pretty quickly originally, but he was still a bit aloof, and I was worried he liked other people more than me because I was a bad cat mommy! That's wasn't the case, though. However, then I moved into a new apartment out of my Mom's house. Loki was definitely a little freaked out (it was the third major change for him in less than a month, the first being being taken to the Humane Society for the first place). He got used to it physically pretty fast, but it took him a little longer emotionally (i.e. to be comfortable enough to be fully affectionate with me, etc.).

I thought he was lonely since I was working and out of the house a lot because of that so 2 months after I adopted him I brought Possum into my home on a trial basis (in case it didn't work out; fortunately the rescue group allows this). Whoa! He stayed under my bed for 2 days, only venturing out when Loki and I weren't in the room. Loki hissed at him once, but never again. However, Possum kept hissing at Loki. I was pretty upset! Loki was pretty upset, too (not because there was a new cat, but, it seemed, because it looked like the initial shock he just wanted to make friends and Possum wasn't ready to do that, and Loki didn't understand that). The second day he began to explore past my bedroom for very short periods. After 2 days he started to explore more. I'd have to ignore him because he'd run away from me. Actually, the progress he made so quickly was surprising because he's intensely shy.

I had to wait for him to trust me enough (about a week to a week and a half) till he'd let me touch him long enough to put a collar on him and clip his claws (they were very sharp and I was concerned for Loki). He began to enjoy Loki's company, but he didn't start playing with him until 2 weeks into his stay.

But because Possum was so much different than Loki, I wasn't sure I had made the right decision until about 2 weeks in.

Earlier today he was laying on my lap and "grooming" me, which was very sweet, but he still runs away from me at times. He's getting better, though, but like everyone and all cats, he'll need his space.

Try not to take it personally, it's just a huge change for your kitty. Remember, at the Petsmart he was still around cats and humans he knew, and now he's all alone in an unfamiliar place with a stranger. You'd be a little nervous, too, wouldn't you!?

I'm sure he'll warm up and get more comfortable, soon. Don't give up on him yet, or yourself, either!

post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
Day 2 for Java in his new home:

I stopped by PetSmart on the way home from work to get a Feliway Diffuser but was taken aback by sticker shock. I had expected something the price of an expensive air freshener. I decided to try traditional remedies and see if he warms up after a few days.

I arrive home from work and Hallelujah! Java is not still in his carrier in the bathroom. He's lying on top of my stove top. Now, I realize I'll have to look into discouraging him from that perch for his own safety. For right now, though, I'm just thrilled that he decided to explore while I was away.

I'm talking to him while I take off my shoes and drop off a few items. I walk into the kitchen to supplement his dry food with some wet food, and I behold a river of cat urine and a couple ample mounds of kitty doo doo. I'm thankful that he decided to defecate on the hardwood floor of my kitchen, but I'm a little confused why he didn't use the litter box that was right next to his carrier he'd been sleeping in. It's a covered litter box, so perhaps he didn't think to crawl through the swinging door? Anyway, I took the door off the box and hope he'll learn in the future. For the moment, he's still on the kitchen counter eyeing me nervously whenever I walk past. Any tips on the litter issue?
post #12 of 18
If he's used to an open litter box, you really have to take the top off the box for now - he doesn't "get" it.

I know he's set up in the bathroom, but if there's any way to move his litter box further away from his crate, you should do that too. Unless you're sick, you don't really want to sleep right next to your toilet, do you?

I don't know where you ultimately want the litter box, but if you should consider getting a second box. The rule of thumb is that there should be one more litter box then there are cat(s). Get a second box - and put it where you'd originally intended the litter box to go. Then move the box in the bathroom as far away from the crate as possible (if possible), and leave the tops of the boxes.

Once he's regularly using only the boxes, take the box out of the bathroom and set it next to wherever the other one is. Put the top on the one that wasn't in the bathroom - but remove the door. If he continues using the boxes, if he uses the covered box as well, then go ahead and put the second litter box wherever you want it. After he's using it for a while, too, put on the top (without the door).

Again - once he's using one or both boxes regularly, put the door on one and see what happens.

We use covered litter boxes - but we never put the doors back on.

Also, some kitties are really picky about clean litter boxes. It's best to scoop at least every day. Also, once a month you should dump the litter, bleach and clean the boxes. If money's tight, you can put the cleaned litter that was there back in - but it's best just to put all new litter in there.

Cats are very fastidious about being clean, and they usually demand clean boxes. 85% of the time when a cat pees or poops outside the box, it is a medical problem.

This time I think it's just he wasn't comfortable using the closed box with a door, but once he's using the boxes, if he ever goes outside the box, the first thing you must do is get him to a vet.

FYI - male cats do sometimes get urinary tract infections, and this is what can cause them to pee outside the box. I don't want to scare you, simply inform you, but with a UTI, the way male cats are constructed, they have VERY thin urethras, and they can can get blocked. This means they can't pee - and then the urine backs up in their system and causes them to die of toxicity - and this can take place over a 24 hour period. Again - I'm not telling you this because I think he has a UTI, and I'm not telling this to scare you or freak you out - I'm telling you this because we didn't know it, and we just got lucky in taking our kitty to the vet so quick when one of our males had a UTI.

The other 15% of the time it is because kitty is stressed. They never do it out of spite or anger.

Again - sorry for the long post, but I want to share some more info.

If and when your cat pees or poops outside the box and it isn't on a hard floor, you MUST use an enzyme cleaner to clean up the accident. Regular carpet cleaners will NOT work. Cats' sense of smell are so beyond ours, and it has to be clean to kitty's nose - not ours. A typical enzyme cleaner is Nature's Miracle - available at most pet stores and supermarkets. However, we've found that the product Nok-Out works even better. If you want to have some on hand just in case, we order it through

And you need to know - the personality you saw at the adoption center is who your kitty is. Once he's the "owner" of his territory and understands you're his pal, he'll be the fun-loving, sweet, cuddly boy you met.

post #13 of 18
In December we had a special spay/neuter clinic for the cats on Philadelphia's Pier 70--see the thread on "Operation Catsnip". I took two of them home to recover and then release.

Pier 70 is a well-known Philadelphia "dump site", where people get rid of their unwanted cats, so many of the cats there are strays rather than ferals. One of the cats I recovered was definitely feral, and he was released after a few days. The other simply seemed like a frightened stray, so we thought we'd see if we could resocialize her--she's a beautiful all-white cat we've named Emily.

Well, it's almost April now, and Emily has had full run of the house since mid-January. She gets along very well with the other cats, and Gretchen (the kitten) is her special playmate. But she still shys away from us humans and won't allow us to touch her. But she is letting us get closer and closer....
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
That's a sweet story about Emily's progress. I made some huge progress myself with Java yesterday. All night last night, he was pouncing on shadows and other rambunctiousness. I'm so happy he's happy and confident now and I'm sure you must feel the same way about Emily!
post #15 of 18
I love it when kitties chase shadows, sun spots, and their tails!

He sounds like he's coming along just fine. You must be doing something right!

Did you take the cover of the box - and is he using it now?

post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
Oh, my!! I feel so silly about worrying about nothing. He still startles easily, but he is now -soooo- affectionate. As soon as I say 'Good boy, Java!', he comes trotting over and head butts me for a good petting. He started eating, much to my relief. And most importantly ........ he's been using his litterbox faithfully in the last few days! I left the cover on and took the door off, but the cover is semi-translucent so I think he got the idea. Sometimes, I think he plays in there more than he does his business! I don't think I could have been any more fortunate in finding a wonderful cat for my first feline experiences. He's affectionate, well-behaved, uses the litterbox and his scratcher!
post #17 of 18
Awwwww........ what a sweetie! He sounds like a wonderful companion. I love cats! They're so funny and quirky, and the do the most amusing things - and of course, they love so well.

Our kittens ALL played in the litter boxes for at lest a few weeks. Even now - Flowerbelle is going to be 4 - and she'll run in there, do a couple of 180s, and THROW litter as she bolts out of there. Thank god the box is covered!

I'm so glad he's adjusting so quickly! (And told ya he'd be the same kitty you met! )

post #18 of 18
I think you've gotten fantastic advice already, so I'm just here to say, I am another vote for "You're doing things right, don't take it personally, give him time, and don't think your cat hates you, at all!"

The change in his behavior is one of those things that makes trying to match adoptive homes with cats and kittens for adoption such a tricky business! Another thing is that a cat's pace for becoming comfortable in a new place is TOTALLY different from anyone else's!

Good work!
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