My kitten is breaking my heart.

As you may remember, back in January we got a kitten. We went through sickness and the tedious introduction of old and new pets, and everything seemed to be going great. The dog adores her and the older cat tolerates her.

But it’s not what I wanted - what I needed - in a cat.

It’s not that I don’t like her. On the contrary, I love her dearly. I adore watching her antics,and just listening to her gallop from one end of the house to the other brings a smile to my face.

But I wanted someone to provide what my beloved Oops provided. I had her for twenty years, and she was the best companion I’ve ever had. She was beside me when I woke up, and snuggled in next to me when I lay my head down at night. I knew that she would be in my lap or on my shoulder as soon as I sat down. I loved that little cat more than I thought was possible, and losing her will always be one of the biggest loses of my life.

When we first got Lily, we didn’t know she was sick. For the first couple of weeks, she would let me hold her while she slept, and she felt so good and sweet in my arms. I almost felt whole again.

But it didn’t last. As she recovered, she pulled away from me more and more. She simply doesn’t like to be touched or held, unless she’s asleep. If you come up to her quietly when she’s asleep and stroke her gently, she chirps and coos and flexes her paws, and immediately tries to groom either herself or my hand, depending on which she can reach. She’s learned to come up to my chair beside me and wait for a treat. You know the old joke about tying a pork chop around an ugly kid’s neck to get the dog to play with him? I’m the ugly kid. I break up treats and put them on me, just so she’ll hesitantly crawl up on me to snatch them away and I can oh-so-lightly stroke her fur before she runs away to eat it.

I feel so needy and pathetic. I’ve never had a cat that didn’t want to be held and petted, and I can’t help but feel rejected. I ache to hold her, but I might as well be waiting for her to read to me. I waited years to get another kitten, making sure it would be the best time for everyone else in the family, and now it seems I’ve screwed up. I hope I can learn to accept the situation, but I hate having to settle again. I’ve settled for being a fat cripple, I’ve settled for being trapped in a loveless marriage, I’ve settled for getting berated by a belligerent coworker, I’ve settled for being in debt to my ears - so now I guess I’ll settle for a pet that sees me only as a food dispenser.

Guess you’ll have to get a second cat. :slight_smile: Get an adult cat, so you have more of a chance to see the full temperament, although you really can’t tell in a shelter. Get a snuggly one.

You might want to visit an animal shelter.

And maybe see a counselor.

Or a third cat. The OP said he has an adult cat and a kitten.

I bet she will learn to be affectionate. I adopted my Oliver as a full grown cat (about 4 years old) and he HATED to be petted below his head. He didn’t want to be touched and he slept in the corner far away from my bed and didn’t seem to want to be loving in any way. That was about 14-16 months ago.

Now he comes running when I come home from work to get pettings and food. He watches me while I go to the bathroom, chirping and mewing because I need to be done peeing so I can love on him, dammit! He has fallen in love with the top of my head and constantly perches on his back legs, which is his way of telling me to bend over so he can rub up against my hair and lick my face. He sleeps in bed with me occasionally now and rubs his face against my feet when he wants to be petted.

My cat Joey loves to be held and sleeps on my chest or on the small of my back whenever possible. He wants to be in my lap and purrs really loudly to show affection. He doesn’t love me any more than Oliver but he shows it in different ways. Once you learn to interpret your kitten’s affectionate behavior and find out what her quirks are you may find that she is extremely loving in her own way. Besides, kittens aren’t happy unless they are wreaking havoc on your stuff so they don’t have time to stop for loving. Once she gets a bit older I bet she will calm down and choose petting over shredding.

That was the original plan. But when we went to the shelter a few times and explained that we had a 16 year old male cat and a 2½ year old, they suggested a kitten would be the best solution, since there wouldn’t be as many “surprises” in temperament or habits to overcome. We didn’t expect the surprise to be a people-phobe. She was so mellow and friendly when we first met her - we had no idea that it was because she was sick and feverish.
I’d love to get other kittens, but Mr. singular is home with the animals all day while I’m away at work for 11-13 hours every day, and he maintains a 2-feline max household. I’d happily trade him in for a few kittens, but I don’t think that’s a viable plan.

Pbbth, (one of my favorite poster names, btw), I will keep every crossable fiber of my being crossed in hopes that you are right!

No solutions, just commiseration… we have a brother-sister pair, adopted at about 10 weeks old from the local shelter, and the sister is a non-cuddler. She goes so far as to flinch dramatically all over if you touch her… most of the time. They’re more than three years old now, and over the last year, Bridget has decided to allow SOME touching, on her very limited terms of course. If she’s sleepy and rolls over to show you her belly, she’ll let you pet it. Once or twice a week she’ll leap up on my lap while I’m working at the computer and loll all over me, purring and blinking and doing that shameless cat flirting thing they do, for about half an hour. Then she’s done.

I really think she’s somewhere on the cat version of the autism spectrum, based on many other of her behaviors, and try not to take it personally when she acts like my fingers contaminate her. It’s very very hard on my husband, who adores cats and has some social anxiety issues anyway. It is very fortunate that her brother Oliver is sweet and cuddly.


My Katya has become less skittish and more affectionate as she has aged.

You can’t predict how a kitten will act when it’s grown up any more than you can predict how a rebellious teenager will act when they’re 30. The most affectionate kitten can turn into the most aloof cat, or vice versa. That’s not to say she’ll ever turn into a cat that likes to cuddle (or at least tolerates it) but there’s certainly a chance.

I adopted my Isabel from a barn. She was semi-feral (barn cat, afraid of humans, would not let me handle her at first) and she is now 3. It was slow going, and she still does not like to be picked up, but I wake in the morning and she is under the covers, snuggled in my arms purring. If I sit to watch a movie she will climb into my lap. At night, when I read or internet in bed, she is lying across my legs.

It took her a goodly amount of time to get to this point. Good luck!

It just may take time, both our cats (Nemo and Blue) were very standoffish at first, but now, they’re true lap-cats, and Blue is agressively freindly, he’ll come up to me and demand attention

When my husband and I moved in together we each brought a cat to the relationship. He got Izzie while he was living far enough away that I didn’t interact with her much before we all shared a roof. My main concern was how my much older cat would adapt to having to share things that were formerly all his.

It didn’t occur to me that Izzie would resent having to share Señor Dee with me. She’d bite my toes while I slept. Hiss at me. Run away when I entered a room. I was despairing of ever enjoying being around her.

After several months (more than six…but not a whole year) she still didn’t like to be picked up - by anyone, but she did become affectionate. She will happily climb onto a lap, and graciously accepts chin and ear scratching. It just has to be on her terms. She’s not as cuddly as Ferdinand, who left us last summer, but no cat was or will be as cuddly as Ferdinand, ever.

Izzie was a foudling but the best shelter estimates were that she was about 2 years old when we all moved in together - if that has anything to do with it.

It’s almost always a bad idea to bring a new pet in with the notion that they can take the place of a beloved pet. Even pets from the same litter have unique personalities, which is the awesome thing about pets.

My advice to you is to quit comparing Lily to Oops. She’s not him, nor will she ever be. Enjoy her for who she is. One day she may come around and like to be petted or she may never like to be petted. Love her for the unique, lovable animal that she is.

Don’t forget that some cats’ behaviour changes over time. Between the ages of 0 and 6, Cookie didn’t really care about affection, and her on my lap was a once-in-a-month event. But now, aged 9, she’s tremendously affectionate, sleeps with me or my roomie every night, is forever looking for cuddles, and wants to be near me all the time.

That said, every cat is different, and Lily might just be “like that”. She cannot replace - try to embrace her difference.

Your OP just tears my heart out. May I make a suggestion?

Some of my most recalcitrant cats have become cuddlers through a difficult, yet simple tactic. Always leave them wanting more. Only pet, cuddle or hold kitteh when she comes to you and then right as she’s getting settled, get up and make her move. If she tries to come back to you, move her off of you.

It’s almost a cold shoulder, but trust me, it works. Eventually once she starts to curl up in your lap for a nap, let her get her snooze on before you move. Don’t worry if it takes a while, I’ve done this with many old and young cats.

Good luck, and always remember: it’s a unique relationship you’re building. Enjoy it!

Yup, cats may be furry enigmas wrapped in mystery, but they haven’t got a clue when it comes to reverse psychology.

Just remember that cats are like kids - they’re cuddly when they’re young, then they turn all teenagery and get stand-offish for a couple of years. Then they pull their head out of their ass and get loveable again.

Just wait it out. 2 years from now your teenager will have mellowed into an adult and won’t pull away from your cuddles with a ‘quit it mom, you’re embarassing me!’ look.

Try to be patient, OP.

Like you, we adopted our particular shelter kitty because I thought she was cuddly when in fact she was ill. As she got better, she became stand-offish and was very tense when picked up. My tactic was repeated "drive by’ cuddling. If she wanted food (always!), she had to endure a quick cuddle. Anytime she was within arm’s reach, just a quick cuddle on my terms, then she could go on her way. And I purred at her a lot.

Now she is always at my feet if I’m on the computer and eagerly jumps up to join me on the couch or in my chair.

Be patient and persistent; you’ll win her over once she’s out of her kitten phase.

Howdy singular. I am a cat whisperer. Seriously. I understand cats, and have seen friends cats who wont even let their owners handle them come jumping into my lap when I go over to their house.

My cat Lucky passed away in March, and altho I was going to be petless for a year or two to do some cross country hiking, I found after just a couple of days that I hated the empty house. About 2 1/2 weeks after Lucky was put down, I found a cat at the shelter that was moderately affectionate (she didn’t flinch away in her cage or claw me when the tech got her out). Once I got her home, she panic ran and found a nice spot in my closet behind the old dresser and under a roadbox. Unless I moved things so I could get my head in the right spot, I didn’t see her for 6 weeks.

Eventually, when she was eating I blocked off the very back spot she was in to one where I could at least see her without too much effort.

Over the next month I would lie down on my belly and sing to her. Just sing her name (I named her Heidi, because all she did at the time was hide) over and over and over. Eventually, after about 2 weeks she wouldn’t flinch or back away when I stretched my hand out towards her. 2 more weeks and I was petting her. 2 more weeks and she would actually come out if I was in the room but not interacting with her. I let her come out and let her alone for about a week of this.

Then I would follow her to her food dish, and give her one stroke while she ate, always singing to her. This went on for about a week, maybe 10 days.

Now, she sleeps curled up with me, sits on my lap, and when I come home she trots out and presents her belly for belly rubs. She is totally affectionate, loves to be petted and talks to me all day long.

El Cid and justpassing have it right. Withdraw before she exhibits adverse reactions. And sing to her. Just her name and throw in a “good girl” once in a while, but do it over and over and over, until it’s almost a reflex for you when you see her. You don’t have to touch her every time you see her nearby (it’s better if you don’t), and definitely stop before she wants you to.


I know I’m gonna get in trouble with this analogy, but bear with me. :smiley:

Cats, especially female cats, are like women: they want physical affection, but they also get a bit nervous about it because they are vulnerable. Patience, reassurance and positive reinforcement will eventually win out. By communciating (singing) and doling out affection, the cat will come to know that this place, and these other creatures (human and otherwise) are not hostile and that the good part of being touched is not something to fear.

About the singing: cats seem to react positively to short, repetitive melodies. This will also help the cat learn their name, and the use of “good girl” or “good boy” also becomes a positive reinforcement, as they will begin to associate the phrase with pleasurable feelings with no ill consequences attached. Thus you can use it as just a comment when they obey a command to get off the counter or stop scratching or what have you, and they will understand that when you say it, it is a part of good things like affection, food, treats, etc.

Don’t rely too much on treats and food, as that substitutes for the petting and the verbal approval. A cat will sometimes focus only on the food, and not the hand feeding it, and that isn’t what you’re after.

As others have said, be patient. Think of your kitten as a battered woman, or an abused orphan, and proceed slowly. Be patient, be persistent, but don’t force yourself on the cat. Eventually she will force herself on you, and then it’s win-win.

Hope this helps.