Is There Any Way I Can Get My Cat?s Trust Back?

CatChannel and CAT FANCY cat behaviorist Marilyn Krieger, CCBC, explains how to gain cats' trust after frightening them.

By Marilyn Krieger, CCBC | Posted: September 5, 2011, 3 a.m. EDT

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Q: I have had my cat for three months. She’s my first cat. Yesterday I just wanted to play with her, but she bit me. I thought my cat wanted to play so I continued playing. She tried to escape, but I took her back and played with her again. It was kind of fight play. I thought she was OK with that. Now, she is so scared of me and she won’t come to me. She runs away. When I finally take her in my hands she shrieks. Now I know that it wasn’t right what I did, but I think I lost her trust forever. Is there any way I can get my cat’s trust back?

A: Because this is your first cat, I highly recommend that you find a cat organization or individual who can support and mentor you about all things cat. A local humane society or a rescue group can help you understand how to care for your new cat and teach you to recognize, interpret and respond correctly to her body language. Many humane societies have free behavior helplines that you can call. Excellent books are available perfect for first time cat people. Two I highly recommend are Think Like a Cat by Pam Johnson-Bennett and Complete Kitten Care by Amy Shojai.

The first step in earning your cat’s trust back is to not corner her or insist she interact with you. Encourage your cat to come to you by using the method of formally greeting cats while you are sitting or crouching a few feet or across the room from her. Extend one finger towards her at cat-nose level. If she wants to say hello, she will come to you, touch your finger with her nose, then will turn her head until your finger is on her cheek. At that point, gently pet her cheek, her head and the back of her neck. Healthy cat treats that she adores will also help her trust you. If she’s not feeling secure enough to fraternize with you, leave her alone and try again later. Always bring cat treats with you that you can toss near her.

Although most cats love to play, never play rough and don’t use your hands when playing with your cat. Instead, play with her using fishing-pole type cat toys. Pull the toy away from her so that she can chase and catch it (fishing-pole-type toys should be out of reach of cats when no one is around to supervise). Most likely she will also enjoy chasing toys that you throw for her. Don’t force her to participate in the games. When she loses interest, stop and have a play session later on when she’s more in the mood to play.

Be gentle with your new cat and learn everything you can about her and how to care for her. If you create a safe environment for her and treat her gently and with care she will eventually feel secure and not run from you.

Read more articles by Marilyn Krieger here>>

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Reader Comments

Leane    Dickson, TN

1/10/2012 6:27:43 AM

My email address id leanniebug46@comcast.net .. I left my kitten for two weeks and when I came back he had switched his affections to a person that didt eeven want him. He spent 24/7 with me ... I was his person, now its like he tolerates me but I WANT HIS LOVE BACK! Can anyone please help me...Miss the love of my kitty.

Leanne    Dickson, TN

12/10/2011 9:08:55 AM

I like it. I have had cats all my life but have never been in this situation before and DESPARATELY NEED HELP. I am writing because I have a 7 mo. old kitty that spent 24/7 with me. Had to leave for 2 weeks and when I came back he had switched affection to the other person in the house that is not a cat person. I am devastated. I want my baby back and its so hard to have him not need me like he did. How can I get him to be my kitty again? I am so broken hearted that I almost cant eat, as he was my world. How can I ever win his affection back and his trust. I need my baby back. Please if you can help I would be ever grateful!

Galadriel    Lothlorien, ME

9/8/2011 11:42:30 PM

Some cats like combat but you have to know when to stop. I have several cats that enjoy a bit of rough housing.

m    m, GA

9/8/2011 4:30:36 PM

Cats aren't like dogs. They definitely don't like hand-to-hand play combat!

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