How do I accept my fiance's cat?
March 23, 2010 12:05 PM   Subscribe

I really don't like my fiance's cat. Now that we've moved in together, how can I learn to accept the cat as a part of my life?

I've been seeing this amazing woman for nearly three years. We'd been dating about 6 months when she adopted a 3 month old rescue cat. I like cats, and was happy to welcome one into my life.

No such luck. She didn't like me, she didn't even really seem to like my girlfriend except when she was opening a can of food. After making several unsuccessful attempts to befriend her, I left the cat alone. This wasn't hard, because when I came over she hid under the bed. Since my fiance usually spent the night at my place, I pretty much forgot about the poor cat being a part of my girlfriend's life.

And THEN we moved in together, and sometimes I wish I could forget the cat was there. I've tried for over eight months either to win this animal over, or otherwise accept her as a creature I live with but don't interact with. I fed her exclusively. That didn't work. Then I ignored her. She still hissed at me from behind doors. I calmly sat in rooms she occupied, not-not-ignoring her. I offered treats. I've done everything, and I've done nothing (since my fiance claims not trying might win her over). If I sneeze, she races to the basement. If I hug my girlfriend, she yowls at me from under the table. Every noise we make sends her into a tizzy. She also apparently hates all my stuff. She's shredded the curtains, clawed the pillow cases, scratched all the furniture, leaving all the scratching posts in pristine condition. It drives me nuts, but my fiance calmly and rationally attributes it to living with a clawed animal. That's great, but I've replaced seven pillow cases in almost as many months. Despite the fact that the cat only seems to prefer my fiance as one might prefer food poisoning to arsenic, my lady just takes this rejection much better. She says it's all part of appreciating cats.

I don't expect or want my girlfriend to give up her own cat, so I'm pretty much resigned to dealing with this feline for the next decade. What makes me sad is that I love animals. I love dogs especially, but I like any friendly pet. I'm sadder still that the cat despises other animals at least as much as people, so another pet might make her even unhappier than she already is.

In the spirit of compromise between me and this cat, I'm ready to approach this with an open mind. Metafilter, if your spouse or SO came as a complete set with an animal you didn't warm up to, how did you deal? What are some mental exercises that taught you to become at peace with an unfriendly pet?
posted by anonymous to Pets & Animals (37 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

I moved into a house with 5 cats. One accepted me right away, two of them were friendly, one I didn't see for months and then became my personal cat, the last one finally accepted me after about two years but will still only allow two of us to pet him and hides from everyone else.

You might want to consider dealing with some of the behaviors one at a time... for example, deal with the pillow case issue by putting a zap mat on the bed, same thing with the curtains.. trying to change every behavior at once is going to tough on you AND the cat.
posted by HuronBob at 12:15 PM on March 23, 2010

I know you're not asking how to win the cat over -- it sounds like you've tried just about everything including your patience -- but you don't mention playing with the cat regularly, say 10 minutes a day of relate-to-the-human play (i.e., not using a laser pointer) for a few weeks. Have you tried that?

That said, I completely believe that you've done your best; some creatures (including humans) are just not into liking other creatures.

One thing you could try is limiting (but not eliminating all) hiding places to encourage the animal to be visible. I can enjoy looking at a cat sleeping on a nice bookshelf or a cozy cat bed.

Also, maybe you could eventually adopt a very very mellow large sweet adult dog, that won't antagonize or react to the cat, but would be a nice friend for you.
posted by amtho at 12:18 PM on March 23, 2010

I was actually in a similar scenario when I moved in with my boyfriend and his two cats. Unlike you, I did not much like cats. I adore big slobbery mutts, and like anyone who grew up with big slobbery mutts, I'd learned to expect a lot of emotional reciprocity from pets. A pet should bark, and run recklessly in circles, and wag their tails ecstatically when you come home at night! Dogs are arguably more interactive animals, which is why it's very hard for dog folk to recalibrate their expectations when they stumble (sometimes literally) upon slinky, standoffish cats who seem to think of humans as extra large can openers.

Cat people, like your girlfriend, are different folk. Cat people have their own language for describing their pets. When the cat ignores them for a window sill, they delight in the cat's "independence." If the cat licks bathroom tile for hours a day, or is pathologically afraid of, say, the doorbell, that means the cat is "idiosyncratic." When people on Ask.Metafilter inquire about their specific cat's bizarre behavior, lots of MeFi cat owners just invoke the mystic law of "Cats Are Weird."

But there's hope! Even I, a dedicated dog lover, was eventually won over by my boyfriend's two cats. Granted, Step-Cat #1 is like a cross between a stupid baby and a stupid puppy--you can pick him up and roll him on his back and make him wear bonnets and he won't care. But Step-Cat #2 is a bit closer to your girlfriend's cat. He's a sweet guy but goddamn, if you make any sudden move he'll tear across the house. With Step-Cat #2, I learned to appreciate him less as an engaging companion and more as...a source of hapless entertainment. Yes, at first I felt like a big oaf because he flipped his shit every time I pulled out a kleenex or tripped through a doorway. But eventually I stopped caring if a loud noise would upset him, because every loud noise upset him. I learned to accept his shows of affection entirely on his terms (this involves him drooling into my hair, ew) but only when I felt like tolerating it. When he has some bizarre behavioral episode, I wouldn't let it affect my mood because he's the running, drooling, scared-of-his-shadow cat.

In short! You're letting a cat, an animal stupider and far less domesticated than a dog, dictate the terms of your relationship. Right now, when you sneeze, she books it, and you feel bad. Instead: you sneeze, she books it, you roll your eyes and laugh at that silly, crazy cat. Because she's a cat, and you're a smart human. You can't change her skittishness, but you can change how you deal with it.
posted by zoomorphic at 12:20 PM on March 23, 2010 [30 favorites]

I dunno. As a fellow cat lover, I would probably keep trying to get the cat to warm up to me. Do you ever just kneel down and casually hold your hand out so the cat can sniff it? Hold other things in front of you for it to sniff? For some reason I find that usually gets cats to like the idea of me.

As for the claws, your girlfriend's gotta clip them. It might still scratch, but it shouldn't be destroying pillows. What if you try sprinkling catnip on the scratching posts? Anyone ever try that?
posted by wondermouse at 12:24 PM on March 23, 2010

Was this cat feral? If so, it's quite possible that there's nothing either of you, or anyone could ever do, that would make her be friendly. It sounds like part of what bothers you so much is that the way she acts kind of hurts your feelings in a way. It might help you feel better, if she is feral, to remember that she's not really a domestic pet. She's more of a wild animal. The way her brain works is actually different in some ways than a regular pet cat, and that was set long before either of you met her.
posted by Ashley801 at 12:25 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Get a laser pointer and fuck with that cat every chance you get. No cat can resist the Crazy Red Dot That Climbs Up Walls.

Once the cat becomes a source of entertainment you might warm up to it.
posted by bondcliff at 12:37 PM on March 23, 2010 [9 favorites]

Not that it helps, but isn't clawing generally part of territory marking? If she's going after your stuff in particular (as opposed to everybody's stuff), that would be a pretty strong statement of where she thinks you stand in the pecking order, yes? I think I'd try booting her out of specific areas of the house long enough for them to become your territory. (like a month or so).

Cats are difficult. As a species, they like/dislike people for no discernable reason at times. Her attitude about you may never change, but a behavior issue is a behavior issue, and if you can get your SO on board with that concept, instead of her writing it off as "well...she's a cat," maybe some progress can be made.
posted by Ys at 12:38 PM on March 23, 2010

I adopted a cat with my ex-partner who, over the course of 6 years, never once got used to me. He was not destructive, though. My father lives with a cat that hasn't let him pet him once in the ten years that they've lived together (since that cat was a kitten). But that cat is also not destructive.

My thoughts are that you are probably not going to make a lot of headway on relating to the cat itself- Cats Are Weird. However, I would try to put a stop to the destruction. I was able to stop our cats from clawing up a couch by using strips of double-sided tape from Petco (they're expensive, but they're big and they do work). I would use these on furniture until the cat stops, and I would make a special effort to cover your pillows in the morning (old towels?) and address anything that the cat seems to make a special effort to destroy. Cats just generally do what they want. They are not animals that can be trained easily.

I would also suggest adopting a second cat, especially one that is past kittenhood and is more mellow. I knew a woman with two introverted cats that rarely let her near them. She married a woman with one very extroverted and destructive cat. They all worked magic together and the dynamic totally changed. The introverted ones are almost normal now- they can be pet even by strangers, while the extroverted one toned it down quite a lot. The right second cat could give your first cat a social outlet and bring some balance to your relationship. If the cat likes you as well, then you can have a cat to pet while you stew on the fact the other cat still doesn't like you. (This worked for me, when I lived with that cat who didn't like me. I just pet the cat that did like me.)
posted by aabbbiee at 12:42 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm with @Ashley801; I'm a former cat owner. Turned out it was part feral, and there was literally nothing I could do to make that cat even like me.
Didn't like to nap, didn't like to be held, didn't like to be petted.
Truly, it was a bummer.
I wanted a house/lap cat and I got a wild animal.

There might be nothing you can do but accept the fact.
posted by willmize at 12:48 PM on March 23, 2010

keep up with the treats (in my house, it's called "kitty crack").

My cat likes the softer "pounce" brand. I imagine if you keep enticing with the treats, kitty will eventually realize you're a friend. Patience & treats is the way to kitty's heart.
posted by archivist at 12:53 PM on March 23, 2010

catnip on the scratching posts to make them more attractive to the cat than other things.
Even more time spent reading quietly with a bowl of kitty treats on the other side of the room.

When I house-and-people-trained a couple of feral kittens, it took easily nine months to get the boy accustomed to me, and to being touched. Now, several years later, he gets pouty if he can't sit on my lap.

One needs all the patience in world when training cats, and all the time too.
posted by Billegible at 12:53 PM on March 23, 2010

She's shredded the curtains, clawed the pillow cases, scratched all the furniture, leaving all the scratching posts in pristine condition. It drives me nuts, but my fiance calmly and rationally attributes it to living with a clawed animal. That's great, but I've replaced seven pillow cases in almost as many months.

Also, this is a bad dynamic between you and your fiancé. Just because she's cool with living among shredded fabric and scratched furniture legs doesn't mean you have to be. When my boyfriend's cats destroyed my quilt with their kitty daggers, we split the cost of a new quilt. This goes a long way towards minimizing your resentment of a clawed step-animal. If you're compromising your desire to get a nice reciprocating pet for your fiancé and her hissy cat, your fiancé can replace the pillow cases. Even if you have a shared bank account, it's her task to drive to Williams-Sonoma or whatever and purchase a new duvet every month. She'll also probably be more apt to clip the cat's claws in a timely fashion if she has to deal firsthand with the repercussions of letting the cat's claws grow a bit too long.
posted by zoomorphic at 12:55 PM on March 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

Why does the cat have to like you? Try to get ok with perhaps never having a friendly relationship with that cat for as long as it lives. It doesn't have to. It's allowed to hate you from afar. You're allowed to ignore each other.
I get the feeling somehow you're trying to *make* this cat like you. That it drives you nuts that the cat doesn't accept your being there. The cat, on the other hand, sees you as an intruder and freaks out. Ignore it, or if you feel up to it, feed it treats without expecting a return of affection. Then perhaps one day affection (or habit) will come.

On the other hand, what you *should* get sorted is the destructive behaviour. This is inacceptable, and a territorial creature like a cat must understand that it needs to get its claws OUT of your territory (which may be part of the problem - it may see this as its own territory).

For the pillow cases I recommend something smelly like citrus perfume, oranges or lemon smells. Cats dislike this and humans usually quite like it. Or you can try Feliway.

For furniture, I recommend double sided sticky tape on the places were the scratches are. Getting stuck on it is a good cure for scratching.

For yowling whenever you kiss your girlfriend - to me it would be inacceptable. I would carry a water sprayer with you and spray the cat when it does it.

Everything else: Ignore it. The cat is allowed to be jumpy and hiss at you from the other room. And what is also important, the cat may need some strong assurance and attention from your girlfriend so it knows that it still has a place in this house. It sounds like a territorial thing, treat it as such.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:04 PM on March 23, 2010

Nthing the "sounds like a feral cat". I have one of these and it's taken years for her to warm up to us even though we're the providers of food. Also nthing "sounds jealous" and spray it in the face if it interrupts kissing.

Also seconding zoomorphic's comments about making it your fiance's responsibility for dealing with scratched stuff, especially your scratched stuff. It's not because it's her cat, per se, because when you get married, it's your cat too. It's because this is a problem you have to solve together and it sounds like she's letting it be your problem only. It's her problem too.

Last but not least, even as a cat person I recognize that there are people-cat combinations that don't work. My mother gave her cat up (took it back to her parents) when she married my father because the cat hated my dad so much. That cat was a Siamese, so it had all the temperament issues that go with being Siamese, and it apparently clawed my dad in the face. If this cat gets violent with you, you and your fiance do need to discuss that. You shouldn't tolerate, and shouldn't be asked to tolerate, violence from the cat any more than you'd put up with it from a person.
posted by immlass at 1:26 PM on March 23, 2010

I was coming in to recommend Feliway but I see Omnomnom has already mentioned it.
posted by onhazier at 1:26 PM on March 23, 2010

You should feed the cat yourself, particularly treats directly from your hand. Cats can be nervous about strangers and aloof to acquaintances, but they like their providers. If you can move yourself into that category, the cat will accept you faster and more easily.
posted by bonehead at 1:31 PM on March 23, 2010

If this cat gets violent with you, you and your fiance do need to discuss that. You shouldn't tolerate, and shouldn't be asked to tolerate, violence from the cat any more than you'd put up with it from a person.

I agree. In that case please find it a good home, though. There are already too many people just dumping cats by the wayside or leave them in animal shelters.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:33 PM on March 23, 2010

Do you have your own cat? Perhaps if you adopted a nice, sweet, friendly cat, the sting of rejection from weirdohissycat would hurt less.

Is your girlfriend trimming her cat's claws? Certainly they can do damage with whatever they've got, but you can lessen the severity of it a bit.

Were it me, I would reply to all the cat's behavior with withering sarcasm, just to amuse myself. But yeah, I talk to both animate and inanimate objects frequently.
posted by desuetude at 1:36 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

On the subject of cats and violence: the boycat I mentioned earlier hissed and bit and would claw my hand if I offered him a treat. but I knew that he was frightened, just plain frightened of these big smelly things that tromped around in his space all day. Inside of that scaredycat was a sweet cat, as I could see by his behavior to his sister (who we'd rescued from the same feral colony).

Overcoming his fear and getting him used to the big trompy things was time, time, and time.
He also greatly feared touch and that was a little more traumatic to overcome - once a day or so I'd catch him, wrap him up in a towel so he couldn't hurt me, and pet him for ten minutes. His skin literally crawled at my touch and he hated hated hated it, and I cried my eyes out because it was so horribly violating. but after a while, he learned that a) he wasn't going to get out of being touched and b) that being petted was actually enjoyable. months later he started asking to be petted.

Let them get used to you. As others have said, they might never get friendly, but they'll certainly never stop being afraid if you don't give them time and space to get used to you.
posted by Billegible at 1:43 PM on March 23, 2010

It's a 3 year old cat. What did you expect? Cats are very strange creatures. Does it like anyone else, or is this pretty much it's attitude? If it doesn't like anyone else, put it on kitty prozac- it works, trust me.

If it just doesn't like you, leave the front door open one day "by accident." Yes, I know, how cruel, I'm a bad person, whatever, just a suggestion.

There are also plug in sprays that are supposedly cat hormones that are supposed to help regulate their moods.

Get it declawed, once again, "that's mean, that's inhumane," whatever, it's not a giant, wild cat, in which case it actually IS inhumane and damages the cat.

Also, once it gets spayed or neutered, it should calm down, but maybe not, who knows, each cat is different.

Oh one more thing... IT'S 3 years OLD!
posted by TheBones at 1:45 PM on March 23, 2010

Erm, have you tried asking the vet about kitty Prozac? Okay, so odds aren't good you'll be able to catch the cat and pill it regularly, but that cat sounds miserable all the time, not just because of you.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:55 PM on March 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

I think another cat will help your cat's behavior problems. Our cats were feral, but adopting two littermates together really helped with their socialization. They've been with us six months and they're 98% normal house pets now.

It sounds like your fiance didn't really work on socializing the cat. It might be too late to change the cat's opinion of humans, but having another cat around might redirect her energy.
posted by Ruki at 2:08 PM on March 23, 2010

TheBones, you really think a reasonable solution for the poster is to "accidentally" let his girlfriend's pet of 3 years run away? I sincerely hope you don't have access to any animals.
posted by soft and hardcore taters at 2:09 PM on March 23, 2010 [6 favorites]

Uh, I don't know what TheBones means by emphasizing that the cat is 3 years OLD (meaning the cat is about thirty years old in people years). To me, it means the cat has settled into her personality and isn't a wild kitten but also isn't old enough to justifying being a cranky old fart. Assuming you got the kitten from the shelter, she's probably been spayed. Also, yes, it's completely inhumane to either "accidentally" let the cat outside to wander among predators and cars; your fiancé would be right to dump your sorry ass. It's equally inhumane to cut off its first knuckles, even if you put it in quotation marks and make fun of it. Don't do either of those things.
posted by zoomorphic at 2:11 PM on March 23, 2010

Do NOT 'leave the front door open one day "by accident"' or have the cat declawed! That's not only petty and potentially dangerous to the cat, it's a HUGE betrayal of your girlfriend's trust. Just don't do it. If you absolutely cannot live with the cat, please put it up for adoption if possible. That's how adults handle untenable situations.

BUT...I think you can make some headway and turn this thing around still.

Buy the cat a climbing tree or cat condo or shelf, some area that is completely and totally its own. I think this is pivotal because, in the cat's mind, you have displaced some of its territory. So you get it a new piece of furniture that is the cat's and solely the cat's. This worked for me when I introduced a new cat to my household.

You can try Felliway, but I'd also close the bedroom door when you aren't there if the cat is attacking the pillowcases on the bed. Open it up when you get home. If the cat tears up the pillowcases then close the door again. Cats are smart. He'll figure it out. Worst situation, you just take back the bedroom. The cat still has the run of the rest of the house. Yes, he will be pissed. But he will have his new climbing perch and that should help.

And I agree that a toy like a laser pointer is a good idea, too!
posted by misha at 2:11 PM on March 23, 2010

3 years is really pretty young. Heck, my cat is 13, and she still acts like a kitten half the time.
posted by sarcasticah at 2:40 PM on March 23, 2010

Nthing prozac.
posted by contessa at 2:42 PM on March 23, 2010

One of our cats was my mom's, and I adopted her when my mom died. Except for a short period post adoption when I think she was genuinely disoriented and clung to me, she has never had much use for me. What really did it for her is that I like dogs and she (the cat) hates them. She especially hates my current dog, our Aussie. As he follows me everywhere, she is constantly giving her irritating yowl in my direction or hissing. She also has hostile bathroom habits, 'nuff said.

On the other hand, she adores my husband and still clings to him.

I don't like this cat much either -- for one thing, she is so stupid I am surprised she can remember to breathe -- but we do OK anyway because 1) like many cats she is a sucker for having her ears petted, so I do that whenever she is within reach 2) I feed her on a fairly regular basis and 3) I ignore her bad tempered displays.

I'd suggest closing the doors that provide access to your stuff like your linens, being generally pleasant as described above to the cat, and otherwise ignoring it. You have the advantage over this troubled beast in every way.
posted by bearwife at 2:43 PM on March 23, 2010

On thinking more about this case, I have something else to add/ask. Did you move into the cat's place or did you and your fiancee move into a new place?

My experience has been that our snitty feral kitty, who has offended one of her sisters to the point of "probably never going to get along well" (we worry about what's going to happen when the oldest cat dies) gets along better each time we move. We've gotten rid of furniture that was the subject of fighting--a particular desk chair in one place was the subject of an extended turf war between cats 2 and 3, and things calmed down a lot when we freecycled it--but moving to a new place always seems to improve kitty harmony as they reconfigure their expectations to go to the new place.

Obviously you don't want to move if you don't have a reason to, but if you're considering it anyway, for example after the wedding, the good it might do your relationship with the cat might be a factor in the decision.
posted by immlass at 5:04 PM on March 23, 2010

For the shredded pillowcase problem, aluminum foil is your friend. Buy some extra wide, heavy duty foil and tear off a sheet about 3 feet long. Place the foil on your pillow when you are not using it. Cats hate the feel and sound of foil and it is much cheaper than those sticky strips.
posted by JujuB at 6:07 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

When I met my now-husband, he had two cats. One of them was a wonderful, lovable pain in the ass who'd love all over anyone in the room. The other was a neurotic, hateful bitch who scratched me when I tried to pet her, ran away if I got near her, hissed at me, on and on.

That was three years ago. The lovable cat died (old age); the hateful one still lives with us and still hates me. If I put out wet food, she won't even come to eat it; she doesn't eat treats. She'll go after a laser pointer, but only if it doesn't seem like I'm the one controlling it. She'll play with toys, but, again, only if I'm not the one tossing them. She doesn't like catnip. She'll sometimes let my partner or our daughter pet her, but not me. We've now lived together for about two and a half years, and despite my best efforts, the cat shows no sign at all of mellowing in her hatred of me.

I was--and am--very hurt by the cat's total rejection of me, and I find it really frustrating to live with an animal that clearly hates me, especially since I really do love animals. Weirdly, what made the situation more tolerable for me was to get more cats. I had one cat who we introduced to my partner's cats when we moved in together, and my cat still loved me. After the death of lovable pain-in-the-ass, we went to the shelter and brought home two six-month-old kittens. They've both become quite friendly with cat-who-hates-me, but they also both clearly like me a lot. I can't say that they've made my relationship with the other cat any better, but it's swayed the balance from "our pets hate me" to "one of our cats hates me, but everything else thinks that I'm great."

Also, some animals will just be happier around other animals--despite the fact that the hateful cat hasn't come to like me any better, she's clearly happier with the other cats around. While it's obviously not true of all animals, it might be worth a shot.
posted by MeghanC at 7:11 PM on March 23, 2010

Oh, man, I'm so sorry--I just reread the question and realized that you said the cat hates other animals, so my whole answer was pointless. I apologize for the poor reading comprehension.
posted by MeghanC at 7:12 PM on March 23, 2010

I do agree with the others that it is way too early in the relationship to assume that peace cannot be found. A thought or two then on cat-approaching:

-Cats in general tend to lurk when they're becoming accustomed to new situations. I find there's not generally no point in trying to make nice with a cat while it's still in an under the furniture/hugging the walls mode.

-Also, remember that cats have claws. An open hand can read as an aggressive hand to a nervous cat. Keep your fingers turned in (a relaxed fist) when offering a hand for a sniff. To offer a sniff, get as close as the cat will tolerate, and put the hand out (fingers in) only enough that the offer has been made. If she's interested, she will lean in for a sniff...doubtful at this point, but try it when the moment is right. A sniff does not earn you the right to touch. It does signify a small reduction in hostilities that may in time turn into an acceptance of a finger or two's worth of ear/chin/tail scritching.

-Be aware of the eyes. Wide open eyes is often a stress or aggression sign in a cat, as is staring. When I'm trying to tell a cat that I'm harmless, I'll look at them, and if they stare at me, I'll close my eyes slowly and then open them again slowly. If they still stare/appear to get more intense, I'll look away slowly. Then look back. Maybe try again with the eye-closing. Eventually I'll ignore them, but not before I've made it clear that (1) I'm here and aware of them (2) I'm not feeling aggressive (3) their posturing is not intimidating me into going away.

-Cat toys are priceless for cozening kitties. (My favorite "toy" is actually a long piece of grass. Dried or fresh; both have their merits. A piece of string works really well too, with something small & graspable tied at the end.) While a determinedly hostile cat probably won't play in front of you, they may be willing to play if they can't see you: Hide around the corner/behind a door & waggle your cat-bait enticingly. Swinging or bouncing a weighted string from out of sight above their hidey-hole is good too. A cat who won't come out may still be willing to play from the shadows, and it's one way to associate your scent with more pleasant things. If they flat out refuse, try leaving the toy & giving up for the day: Once they've messed with it on their own, the resistance may weaken.

If you do start eyeballing tactics for removing the cat altogether from your life, one way to pitch it to your honey might be that some situations just aren't right for a cat. These things tend to play as 'abandonment of responsibility' and 'poor kitty, kicked from pillar to post,' but honestly, if neither one of you is happy, it can be for the best.

Take for example my cat Max. (Named for the line "One day Max was very, very bad.") He was the second cat to arrive of four. He was brought to me declawed, and fought like crazy whenever anyone tried to touch him. In six years, my vet did not manage even once to lay a finger on him --he'd scream like a bobcat and punch and bite. She was frankly amazed the first time she saw me lift him out of a box, about 2 years after I got him. I have scars on my hands from learning how to handle him, and he pissed on everything in the house from start to finish. In short, he was The Cat I Should Never Have Taken In.

When Hurricane Isabel wiped out my house, Max found a new home with a family member who believed in barn cats, not house cats: Minimal contact, strictly outdoors, bare necessities in medical care. (Yes, I know he was declawed. I saw that cat whip a Golden Retriever once...he was fine outdoors.) Within five months Hell Kitty was the sweetest, most purrrrrfectly affectionate lap whore you could imagine. I can only assume it was from being left alone, alone & alone by man and cat alike.

Anyway, my point is: If it isn't working for you, and it isn't working for Cat, there is a genuine possibility that finding another home for Cat will be to her benefit.
posted by Ys at 7:15 PM on March 23, 2010

Ignore it.

Seriously, pay it no mind.

It'll eventually (and it may take years, depending on the cat) work up enough curiosity to try to figure you out.

If you want to jump-start the process, get another animal (equal to or larger than the cat) in the house. Suddenly you're 'old familiar' and therefore an ally against the interloper.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:43 PM on March 23, 2010

I recommend getting da bird and using it to play with the cat for a few minutes every day. No cat can resist the lure of da bird. Mr M. was never much of a cat lover (and our cats were lukewarm toward him) until he got into the habit of busting out da bird when he got home from work (we keep it in his closet, so he takes it out after he changes our of his work clothes). Now when the girls hear him come home, they tear into the bedroom and assume their positions in anticipation of some hot da bird action.
posted by Maisie at 8:54 AM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

My husband does not like dogs. I am a dog person. He accepted my dogs as, and I quote, "the cost of doing business." He's never going to be YAY DOGS but he realizes I'm never going to not have a dog so he deals with it. I choose to take it as a compliment.
posted by crankylex at 10:24 AM on March 24, 2010

Treat it like a neurotic kid that hates you- no pressure, let it trust you, etc. Maybe start a "treat game" with it. Walk into a room with the cat, place a delicious treat somewhere, and then ignore it. Leave it for a while (couple of hours?) and then take it away. Continue this routine for a while. I'll bet it starts eating the treat.
posted by gjc at 9:05 PM on March 24, 2010

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