We can't cuddle our cat ! - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-22-2005, 10:50 AM Thread Starter
 
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We can't cuddle our cat !

Hi everyone, I recently rescued a beautiful stripey female cat around 3 years old from a local shelter. She is very well behaved indeed and not a bit of bother. However, she and she only, calls the shots in the affection department. She will come & rub herself on me or my fiancee to invite us to stroke her. However, if she's lying down, any attempt at stroking is rewarded with a slap of the paw & then a token gesture bite & if we persist (which we now don't) she'll go somewhere to be left in peace. Even when she seemingly invites us to rub her belly the reward is not long coming. When she comes & curls up on the sofa next to me, no matter how gently & patiently & discreetly I introduce the stroking, there's no avoiding it, I'm gonna get a slap & if a claw happens to be out, a nice raised welt as a trophy! Any tips as to how we can get her to be a bit more affectionate would be greatly appreciated.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-22-2005, 11:51 AM
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Re: We can't cuddle our cat !

Welcome to the forum, Colin! And thanks for giving a home to a shelter cat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by colin
she and she only, calls the shots in the affection department.
This is just the way some cats are, Colin. They're definitely in charge of when and how much affection they give or care to receive. Just don't push her, let her come on her own terms, then make her experience pleasant without confining or overwhelming, let her go when she wants to go, and I'll bet over a period of time she'll become more affectionate.

Let us know how things go, and post some photos of your kitty!
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-22-2005, 11:54 AM
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There are a lot of cats who like to call the shots in the affection department...all we can do is try to figure out what they like and play along.

Some cats are easily overstimulated by petting, and even though they seem to want it, they can't handle more than a couple of strokes without getting upset.

There are many cats who don't like being patted when they're lying down, and a large percentage of cats (mine included) don't like their bellies touched at ALL. Other common "no-fly zones" include paws, tails, whiskers, flanks, and ears. I learned that it's best to not ask questions or try to "get them used" to being patted in those places...less hazardous and easier on the cat to respect their wishes (obviously, if you have to give medicine or trim claws, you need a somewhat different approach. Assumpta hates people touching her paws most of the time, but will let us trim her claws peacably if we're efficient and firm about it, and I can hold her paw in my hand if I clasp it firmly, but gently).

Find the patterns. Is it a part of her body that she doesn't like touched? Is it a certain person, room, or time of day? Is she more aggressive when startled? Does she get enough quality play time? A lot of times, a cat that doesn't get enough opportunity to play and attack will be more snappish and likely to swat at patting (kind of a combination of play aggression and overstimulation aggression). Is there a possibility that she could be in pain, or in heat if she's not spayed (unaltered cats can be very snappish and downright unpleasant).

I'd avoid belly rubs completely and see if that helps. Even if she seems like that's what she wants, I'd avoid it. The belly-rub position is very similar to the defensive-aggressive position of last resort for threatened cats (rolled on the back with all four paws and teeth available for defense...I saw this a LOT when we first got Assumpta, and misread it as "awww...she trusts us already!" I learned my lesson real fast ). Let the patting be when and where she asks for it, at least for now, but avoid patting her while she's lying down. It may take quite a bit of time for her to decide that you're trustworthy. I never used to be able to pat Assumpta while she was sleeping, and it took about 9 months for her to settle in enough to just sigh, stretch, and go back to sleep. If you must pat the sleeping cat, try waking her up first and see if that changes the results at all.

Also, try the free article library at www.littlebigcat.com and see if any of the articles about play and overstimulation aggression might be of help.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-22-2005, 12:06 PM
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Thanks Gudewife...should make that a sticky....I just didn't have time and energy to write that much! And you did it so well....
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-22-2005, 03:59 PM
 
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unaffectionate cats

Unfortunately the problem you have is not rare. In your case it is difficult to determine why she doesn't like to be stoked, if it is a result of mistreatment in the past or a physical problem. Some cats have an abnormally sensitive dermal layer that becomes irritated when it is stroked. If petting makes her uncomfortable she is of course going to let you know by striking out.

I do disagree though with the following comment:

[quote="Gudewife"]There are a lot of cats who like to call the shots in the affection department...all we can do is try to figure out what they like and play along.

The worst thing you can do is let her call the shots and just "play along". Cats that control their owners often develop more and more control in other areas. If she has a sensitivity condition you can discuss the issue with her vet as there are some medications that may help. If she was mistreated in the past than you may or may not be able to teach her that touch is a pleasant thing. First, you need to establish when petting occurs and how long it lasts. While she is enjoying the touching, even if for only a second, you need to stop while she is still enjoying it. Letting it get to the point where she is irritated with you will eliminate whatever positive feelings she originally felt at the start of the session. What you need to do is accept the fact that you have a sweet, well behaved kitty who obviously loves you by snuggling with you on the couch. Cats, just like people, have different zones of comfort when it comes to physical contact...just like a "space bubble". I know it is difficult because you want to love and hold her, but try to recognize that her definition of love and attention is different than yours...you need to respect that and not push her.

You did a wonderful thing by rescuing a homeless cat and should be rewarded by a life saved!
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-22-2005, 04:02 PM
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Re: unaffectionate cats

Quote:
Originally Posted by Naughty Kitty
I do disagree though with the following comment:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gudewife
There are a lot of cats who like to call the shots in the affection department...all we can do is try to figure out what they like and play along.
The worst thing you can do is let her call the shots and just "play along". Cats that control their owners often develop more and more control in other areas.
I'm sorry Naughty Kitty; I think you misunderstood what Gudewife was saying. There's being sensitive to the cat's preferences and there's letting the cat run your life. I think she's referring to the former and not the latter.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-22-2005, 04:37 PM
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Well, I don't really think it's possible to teach a cat that touch is a pleasant thing unless you first figure out what the cat likes and doesn't like. If you're consistently trying to touch the cat in ways that it doesn't like, regardless of the reason, you're just going to exacerbate the problem. So by letting them show you what they do and don't like, you'll stand a better chance of touching without causing anger, and the more you touch without causing anger, the more contact the cat will allow. That was actually my point.

I'm quite sure that if I hadn't taken in Assumpta when I did, she wouldn't have survived in a shelter environment, because she was a really fear-aggressive cat, probably abused previously, who wanted to be touched and loved, but freaked out constantly. It took me about a year of figuring out what her triggers were before I could really start working on them. She still has a few, but they're not so bad now. But she was one messed-up little kitty when she came here.

We have a cat at the shelter who has finally, after five years with us, finally allowed someone to pat him. The more people tried to get close to him and pat him, the more fearful and upset and angry he got. What it took was letting him make the decisions about when and where he was comfortable being touched, and for people to stop following him around annoying the living daylights out of him by trying to teach him that patting is good. We have about a 10-15 minute window in the mornings when he can be patted, then he goes back to his usual self...but it started with 5 minutes a month ago, and now it's getting up on 15 minutes where he asks to be patted.

Most cats don't take that long, but they're usually quite happy to let you know what they like and don't like. I personally don't see that as controlling behavior on the cat's part, I see it as the cat stating a point that makes perfect sense to them and the humans listening and coming to a better understanding of what makes the cat tick.[/i]
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-22-2005, 07:03 PM Thread Starter
 
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Sensitive Cat from a shelter

I would like to thank each & everyone of you for your very kind help. I just spent a very quiet half hour with my new furry lodger on my sofa. I wore a welders thick glove & while she was half asleep after a mad evening dashing in and out of our house during a severe snow storm. Her Majesty has spent the day spoiling her with Wiltshire ham & had taken to her bed. Stroking her paws ever so gently seems to have won the day. She simply would not have let me do this yesterday. I took the thick glove off and used my bare hand & she didn't bare claw. Maybe I'm getting somewhere. I would still love to know why she feels so nervous here. I'm feeding her the best for crying out loud?
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-22-2005, 07:06 PM
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ha, ha!! just have patience, you're doing a great job. keep trying to win her trust, and she'll reward you.

BTW, go easy on the ham. too much isn't good for kitty.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-22-2005, 07:38 PM Thread Starter
 
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Beautiful Lucy

Timskitties,
no matter how resistant our new baby is to our affection, she is not going back to the shelter. We simply fell in love with her within the hour. She is lying on my foot as I type here. I had a cat many years ago when I was a student & I can't see for the life of me why I waited so long to get another. Maybe 25 years! I'm sure I'll have some great craic here on this site & some greater fun with my new cat (who will live out her life here in our house - no more shelter experience for this babe)



Quote:
Originally Posted by timskitties
ha, ha!! just have patience, you're doing a great job. keep trying to win her trust, and she'll reward you.

BTW, go easy on the ham. too much isn't good for kitty.
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