Why won't my cat let me touch it???

This is a place to gain some understanding of cat behavior and to assist people in training their cats and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other cat owners and lovers...not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!


Purred: Thu Jun 19, '08 2:14pm PST 
It's kinda a long story. This used to be my father's cat and he always used to say that his cat was different and he wishes he was more lovey. I never understood what he meant until now. My dad saved the cat as a kitten walking down the side of the road. He picked it up and took it home and year and half later I now have him. My father passed in march of this year. I understand moving to a new home with two dogs that he isn't used to will take him awhile to adjust. It has been 3 months and he won't let me touch him. He cries and rubs up next to things wanting me to pet him but when i walk to him he walks away. When he will let you touch him, hardly every he rolls over to pet his stomache, he lifts his head to rub under his chin, he purrs and loves every second of it. I try to pick him up and he jumps out of my lap. The only time i can pet him or give him love is when he is in my bed sleeping. His eyes always glow and everything scares him. If we walk next to him he runs or even if we walk in his direction. He comes out and goes in the window and on the back of the couch but when we try to pet him he gets down and walks away. But he is very vocal. He is always meowing and rubbing my legs and purring but you can't touch him. He walks in and out of my legs purring. Any ideas on what i can do? It is really important to me that he is happy my father loved him but now i know what my father was talking about. Please help!!


Little boy in a- cat suit
Purred: Thu Jun 19, '08 3:16pm PST 
It could be that he will never be the type of cat who will allow you to pick him up or rub his belly. Of the six cats I have had in my life, they have all been different. Only two of the six liked to be held, only three liked their tummies rubbed, and they all had different ways of demanding attention and preferences for the type of attention they wanted.

I think the important thing is to first help him with his anxiety and fearful behavior. You can do this in several ways. I would start by getting a Feliway diffuser to put in the room where he spends most of his time. It is a feline facial pheremone diffuser that puts a calming, tranquil smell into the air (that only cats can smell). Also, you might try Rescue Remedy by Bach Flower Remedies to drop into his water. Put several drops into his water each time you change it and this should help him relax.

Make sure that he has a place where he can go to get away from the dogs - and even the humans - that he is not used to. He needs a place where he can feel safe and secure. If he already has this, then the two things I listed above will be a great addition.

Last, I would not pick him up, but let him come up to you and give you the love he feels comfortable giving at the moment. Some cats get very stressed out by being picked up, and he needs to feel more confident in himself. By allowing him to make the decisions about when and how he will receive love, you are letting him know that he is capable of making these decisions. Also, that he can decide not to be loved on and that's okay. Never speak harshly to him if he doesn't want the love. Always speak in a soft, comforting voice to him, letting him know that everything is okay.

I would also use this voice when he is getting love so that he will associate this loving tone with loving strokes. You may want to have some treats in a little baggie in your pocket so that you can give him a treat or two when he is receiving love. That is also a good way to give him positive reinforcement.

It will take time, and he is already known to be less than cuddly. But the fact that he is getting on your bed, asking for love on his chin and talking to you, tells me that he is well on his way to becoming more confident. You just need to help him along, and that might mean stepping back a bit and letting him make the choice of when and how he wants to be touched.

I hope this helps. I am so sorry about your dad. Daddies are special people and I will never stop missing mine, even though he has been gone for almost 10 years. I'm glad his kitty got to come be with you.


not really a- lion
Purred: Thu Jun 19, '08 3:27pm PST 
We agree with Binks. All cats are different, and give/receive love in different ways. The things you describe him doing indicate to us that he is happy and adjusting fairly well. I am a vocal kittie, I like to talk. I sit next to Mommie sometimes and occassionally sleep near her at night, but I am not a cuddler. I don't fight being picked up, but I don't enjoy it either. My sisfur, Bella, on the other hand is a cuddler. She sleeps right next to Mommie and moves when Mommie changes position so that she is next to her. She loves to sit on Mommie's lap. She seldom meows, but she does purrr. Our new little sister is still a bit shy about being picked up. She likes to snuggle at night though. BTW, the first six months I was here Mommie thought I would never sleep with her or let her just sit and pet me. I am gradually changing as I get older and spend more time here, so perhaps your cat will gradually change too. Mommie says, just let the cat come to you!

Delyte, Dark- Angel, at- Bridge

Me and my- person, together- against all
Purred: Thu Jun 19, '08 4:28pm PST 
This is Delyte. None of us are really crazy about being picked up. Partially because we are all so big and our person doesn't do it very well. Also I don't think a lot of cats like the confined feeling of being held. We all like snuggling next to our person, and even laying on her lap especially in the winter. We don't mind being touched, it's just being picked up. Possibly your cat will never like it either.

It does sound like he is trying to show you affection and wants to be friendly, so all of the other advice given is good, and just keep trying. It can take a long time to get a cat to get used to a new home and new person. Purrs to you!! wave