Welcome to Cat Forum.
What *I* would do, is *handle
* that cat.
It seems to me that she has been allowed to do as she pleases for far too long and when placed into this new situation it has exacerbated her fears and anxiety level to the point of her acting out so badly against people. She sounds poorly socialized. This isn't a slam against you, it is just an observation based on what you have described. I think she needs to be handled and desensitized to various handling methods. Doing this, creates a cat who is relaxed and confident in its' home, with its' people and it can also help the cat to quickly accept visitor's handling, too. Perhaps not at first, but they should be able to become confident enough that it will take less time for them to 'warm up' to guests and visitors.
None of my cats are allowed to stay just out of my reach after they have been incorporated into my home. Oh, they may move out of reach if they don't care to be pet/handled right then (food or playing
) but I *will* pick them up and handle them at random other times. I have NO cats who are afraid to be handled and I can pick up and hold their feet and pet their bellies with no fear of a cat going 'wild' on me. My cats are handled in such a manner that they become desensitized to all manner of handling and it just becomes part of what they learn to be acceptable and it causes them no fear or anxiety. The are happy, relaxed and confident because I am consistent with them and have earned their trust with my consistent manner. I am not full of surprises, they know what to expect from me.
It is a process. You have to be persistent, consistent and gentle while seeking forward progress. I work very hard to attain my handling goals and I absolutely do not want to frighten my cats or cause any bad experiences. I try to create numerous good experiences and consistently build on them to increase the cat's confidence.
Here is a link to a program I call "kitty cat boot camp":
I use these methods to work with my own cats, but mostly I utilize them in taming and socializing foster cats who come to me as ferals or poorly socialized and need handling skills before they can become suitable for adoption.
Not all of this information will apply to you and your situation with your kitty.
If you feel uncomfortable using any of these techniques, go back to areas you *do* feel comfortable doing with your cat and build on those.
There is no right or wrong way to reach the goal of a well-socialized cat.
...but you cannot GET a well-socialized cat unless you DO handle them to allow them the opportunity to get used to BEING handled.
This will involve a little insistence on your part. It isn't 'forcing', but it is helping the cat to work past an area they are 'stuck' in by using short and frequent handling sessions. By handling them consistently in this manner it gives them time to realize nothing bad happened, it didn't last for-ev-er, it really wasn't a 'terrible' experience and they may actually come to enjoy having the closer contact and attention...once they have moved past their "OMG I can't believe he *touched* me attitude" is when you can start building on their approval and incorporate more or different handling techniques or experiences.
My KCBC has a lot of information that won't specifically apply, but the overall THEME is one of consistent handling to build on good experiences and create a happy and confident housecat who enjoys the people in its' home.
Other websites you may wish to Google that have great information about handling cats of various temperament are:
MuttCats and LittleBigCats
I would trust any articles, adivce or tips from those sites.