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Help, new cat owner and cat hates me!!

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hi all, I'm glad I found this site. maybe you can help

I recently adopted our first cat. We got a 6-8 month old unspayed female from the local shelter.

This is a big step for me because my wife and I are dog lovers and never have had a cat. We wanted a lap kitty and wanted a very young cat, but could't bring ourselves to pass up the older cats at the shelter. It seemed selfish to want a kitten when there are 80 adult cats looking at you!! The one we brought home seemed to be SOOOOO affectionate. At first.

After she got home she steadily got LESS affectionate as she got more comfortable with the house. On day 10, I was feeding her treats in my lap. She got startled and dug her claws DEEP into my groin (yes, she got them both!) I reacted by screaming and swatted her out of my lap. Since then she avoids me and won't be in the same room as me.

It has been 2 weeks and the cat went from a lovable cat who wanted to be held (only while standing) to a cat who seems scared and runs away from us. She was ignoring us before the swatting incident.

Will my cat stay fearful of me? For how long?

And now, this week, I am taking her in to get spayed!! I'm afraid she will never trust me.

Here is my concern. I have NEVER and still don't want an "untouchable cat" I want an affectionate cat that I can live with for many years.

Did I screw up by getting a relative adult? We have not really bonded with this cat, and could still take her back the our local "no kill" shelter. Should I have gotten a kitten? If she is to become a sweet lovable lap cat, wouldn't she have done this by now? Should I give her more time?

I am sorry if I come across as "selfish" but this is a real big step for me. I have always owned VERY AFFECTIONATE dogs. I guess I need that in a cat too.

Any help appreciated
post #2 of 12
No, you messed up by swatting her. Normal reaction I am sure as she grabbed your family jewels, but now she is not trusting of you and for good reason.

Cats are independent creatures. You can't mold them into what you want them to be, you accept them for what they are, love them for their quirks and don't dump them if they don't work out.

Look at the world for a minute from her eyes. She has been in a shelter for how long? She has probably had to crowd into cages with other cats, fight for food, get ambushed in a litter pan, or simply enjoy solitary confinement in a cage. Not to many hands have touched her, no one has loved her up or made her comfortable with humans. God knows what she endured before arriving at the shelter.

Now she has been freed from this stress, and brought to a home. Instead of just leaving her alone and letting her adjust to you first, instead, you want her to be the perfect lap cat. She has sent you a message that she is not willing to do this yet. She will in time, I would bet on it. But first you have to take over complete care of her- feeding her, giving her water, taking care of her litter pan, all of it. Other than that IGNORE her. Put yourself and her on a feeding and maintenance schedule and keep to it. Once she knows she can count on you, she will relax. But if you expect things of her, you will be disappointed.
post #3 of 12
I think maybe the clawing incident happened a little too soon in the bonding process, and so now she's wary of you. You can coax her back to trusting you, but you will definitely need to give her time. I would say start from the beginning again, as if she's just met you. Sit on the floor with her in a room she's comfortable in and speak soothingly to her. Don't try to reach out to pet her or pick her up. You'll need to let her come to you. When you look at her, be sure to blink your eyes slowly, as this is a way that cats communicate friendship. Try to engage her in play with a favorite toy and give her treats as a reward when she interacts with you in a positive way. After a while, when she starst to seem more comfortable you can offer your hand, palm up, for her to sniff. When she becomes comfortable with you offering your hand to her, you can then move on to try petting her again. Basically, you have to slowly rebuild the relationship you started. You might want to wait until after the spay to begin the process.

Also, next time she digs her claws in to you, and it will happen because it happens to all of us (cats just get startled sometimes) you must do your best not to hit your cat. I know swatting back is our first reaction especially when pain is involved, but you risk damaging your relationship with your cat. They are just not as forgiving as dogs. Good luck, and I'm sure everything will turn out fine. I'm a former dog person too, and I couldn't be happier as a cat owner.
post #4 of 12
What Hissy suggested worked pretty well for Annabelle. She was just pretty terrified of us. Now she's a total lap cat and purrs all the time. It just took a while and eventually she learned we are good people. I think she also took lessons from our first cat and another stray cat we took in for a while. She would watch both of them as they would lay on our laps- just sit there looking pretty and staring at me, then the other cat, then me, for as long as the other cat would sit in our laps. Eventually she tried it for herself and she never went back.
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the input. Sounds like I just need more patience.

I was SOOO careful about how I introduced the cat into our house. left her alone in a quiet room and did not try and pick her up. I let her come out when she was ready. Layed next to her as she ate to let her get used to me, and gave her treats in my lap. Thing is, she came out and played and purred from day one.

I don't want to come across as a person who expects an instant perfect pet, and who will return one who I can't mold to my expectations. I just understand that this is a LONG term responsibility and want a good fit and good cat.

We ALL want something from a pet (companionship, affection, security, ect...) I am just saying that I dont want to own the type or cat that some people tolerate. Ie. the kind you NEVER see, the kind that scratches you when you walk past, the kind that is UNTOUCHABLE. I don't see the benefit. Fish are pretty too

There is one owner on this board that sounds almost as if she is being held hostage by her biting, scratching cat!! If a dog did this, people would call for it to be put down.

My original question remains. Should I get a younger kitten? Or just stick it out with an animal that distrusts me?
post #6 of 12
I think the others have given good advice. I just wanted to add that getting an adult cat is the correct way to go. With a kitten, you can never really be sure of their personality. Kittens are all cuddly and sweet, mostly because they can't fight to get put down. With an adult cat, you know what you're getting. If you end up deciding to take her back, I'd say still go with an adult.

You can't force a cat into being a lap kitty. Some are, some aren't. It sounds like she was willing to be cuddled at the shelter, but only standing up? Does that mean you were holding her, or she was standing on the ground and you wrapped your arms around her? Some cats are very sweet, but only if you pet them on their terms. Our new cat loves to be pet, but he would prefer to not be picked up, and he prefers to be next to you, not on your lap. Just pet her on her terms only. She'll slowly learn to trust you again.

One other thing. Do you own dogs now? Some cats can get very uneasy around dogs. My grandma's cat is a lovebug, and the dog is too. But the cat freaks out if the door to the dog's area is open, even though the dog has never even tried to hurt her.
post #7 of 12
Try and stick it out Try and put yourself in the cats position at the moment?!.

I know you probably don't want to hear this but when i brought Sophie home as a kitten Rosie totally changed with me.

She went from being a lap cat to staying up in the guest room most of the time and that really upset me but i made sure i gave her plenty of love and affection, and told her how much she was still loved

And now the part you probably won't want to hear!.....It was a good year before she came back onto my lap, and you can't imagine how i felt.

Rosie's life was disrupted because i brought Sophie home but i wasn't going to give up, just like you shouldn't give up on this little girl who can show you unconditional love and affection in return as long as you have the patience
post #8 of 12
I would try Hissy's advice before you do anything as drastic as bringing her back to the shelter. She was trusting you, but you have to re-install that trust again. I think that if you are patient you will be pleasantly surprised!
post #9 of 12
If you get a younger kitten, what happens if that doesn't work out for whatever reason? Will you take the kitten back too?

Stick with the one you already have and take Hissy's advice - it does work! She was a loving cat to start with and she just needs your help to learn to trust you again. You just need to have some patience and take some time to help her
post #10 of 12
I agree w/ what hissy said.

Something you would need to think about w/ a kitten would be that they play and get into everything. It has been my experience that they are more the "children" than the cuddling cat type for several months. Is that something you could handle?

Be it a cat or a kitten, it is going to take time for the animal to adjust to you, to your home, to your pets. Like many have said, you don't know what that cat has endured and you just need to give her time.
post #11 of 12
I have three cats, all rescues. #1 and #3 are cuddle tramps and would be on my lap every minute if I let them. #2 is more reserved and I try to make special time for her because otherwise she tends to hang back. I don't want her neglected.

I have had this cat for more than six months and she only NOW begins to get on my lap, for fleeting seconds. She is not ready to be a lap cat, although she clearly loves and trusts me. It's not about my timetable. It's about hers. LOL

Even my oldest and youngest weren't instant bonds -- well, #3 was because she was still very young when I got her. With cats, everything has to go according to their comfort level. You can't herd 'em, and you can't hurry 'em.

Hang in there and let this cat come to YOU. Don't pick her up or go after her for cuddling. Just be there. It'll be much sweeter for both of you when SHE initiates contact. And she will.
post #12 of 12
I think you should stick it out with your new furbaby....I think shes at a great age and you will soon start to see some of her great personality. Dogs are certainly more needy than cats, and that is part of why they are so much more instantly affectionate. But as a converted dog person, cats have much more individuality and its wonderful to observe them developing their sense of "self". I have complete faith that the longer you have your kitty, the better friends you and her will be. Everyone has offered excellent ideas to try and rebuild the trust. Good luck!
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