Context: I got my cat ~2 months ago. He was in a shelter, and he was very sweet when I first saw him so I decided to adopt him. Unfortunately, they didn't let me to because he still had some small ear infection (nothing serious) so I had to wait until he gets completely healed to adopt. Instead, I took him as a foster parent. I'm looking after him, giving him ear drops, until he's healed and then once he's good I'll adopt him.

When I first brought him home he was extremely skittish. He went under my bed and didn't leave for two days. Then he finally started eating, drinking and using litter box. Over the 2 months he gradually got better. But he would still create a lot of drama every time I gave him ear drops. He would hide, not to out for hours, sometimes not eat for a day. It was sometimes impossible to reach to give him his ear drops, or take him to vet, without chasing him under the bed. This is when I decided to completely deconstruct my bed so he can't go under there.

Last week his ear drops finished. So until I went to vet he didn't get any medicine for about a week. By this time he was used to his medication more or less, he was roaming inside the house. Overall, he was much much better. Now, to my surprise doctor gave another round of ear drops since he's still not 100%. When I first applied his medication 2 days ago. He created insane amount of drama. He got veey aggressive, scratched me, he managed to get out of my room and hid under a couch. These are all things he never did before. I skipped one day (yesterday) because I was afraid he'll have similar effect again. Then I did it again today with a lot of his favorite food and treat. Although he didn't get aggressive, he hid in a corner, refused to eat anything and looks very anxious. For a few minutes when I went outside the room, apparently he was using his litter box, and coincidentally I came in just during the act and he ran away from the litter box to his hiding spot full speed. Pee, litter, everywhere... He seems absolutely terrified of me.

It is another set of drama to get him to the vet. I have to force him into his carrier while he tries to escape with full force. Then he meows the entire way which makes me very sad. Then once we come home he doesn't get out of his spotz doesn't eat for a day.

This is my first cat and I must say I'm absolutely exhaust. I got a cat because my therapist recommended it for my own anxiety issues. My biggest problem is the fact that the cat is terrified of me. It makes me feel terrible and stresses me out. My therapist thinks I'm an overly empathetic person so seeing my cat afraid of me affects me bad because it makes me think I'm someone to be afraid of. This is really too much for me to deal with and I really don't know what to do. I need to give his drops until his next appt and then maybe doctor will want me to do this for longer.

I bonded so much with the cat that I don't how can I realistically give him back to shelter. When he's sweet, he's the sweetest cat I've ever seen and I love him so much. But I really cannot deal with this drama any more. I understand that not giving him ear drops is objectively bad for the cat, so I can't do that. Moreover, I'm having second thoughts to adopt the cat because it seems like he associates with ear drops and thus he associates me with something to be afraid of. I don't know if he'll ever fully trust me.

I'm open to any and all tips. I also asked this on reddit without any success. If you have any tip, I would appreciate if you can share it.

EDIT: TLDR: To make it clear, I didn't officially adopt him yet, I'm his foster. But I still consider doing so because on rare occasion he's a good kitty, he very sweet and I bonded with him so much. I just don't know how can I proceed being his foster given I'm having personal trouble applying his drops because he creates a lot of drama. Also I wonder if he'll be permanently afraid of me.

Things I tried: Feliway (seems to be helpful, but not a silver bullet). I started giving his drops while he eats so that he associates drops with reward (doesn't work, instead he gets anxious while eating even if I'm not gonna do drops).

  • Are the new ear drops the same as the last? If not, maybe the new ones are more disturbing him? For example irritating the skin in the ear or feeling colder than the old drops. A second cause could be the new environment. It gives the cat (jet) not the security as the old (shelter) had done. If you act like before it is not you causing the uncomfortably for the cat. Jan 18, 2020 at 8:18

3 Answers 3


Repitition, Routine and Patience.

Three massive things in most animals lives.

You mention he keeps trying to hide and was becoming quite aggressive... I have to ask does he have enough safe spaces he can climb up onto? Cats need a lot of stimulation and can really benefit from having shelves and climing towers. This could boost his mood and make him more amenable. Don't forget to play with him daily. If he's ready to fight and that's out of character then he could just have excess energy.

I must admit him running away when you walked in and he was using the litter tray doesn't suggest that he's scared of you particularly it's more of he's unsure of what is his and what isn't along with he wasn't expecting you to be there at that moment in time.

Prior to the vet visit you unknowingly got yourself in a routine with this cat and their eardrops. Thus, although they were not happy to recieve them but they still begrudgingly put up with them but then one day the eardrops stopped and so he adapted to this new routine of not needing them applied.

Unfortunately as he put up quite a fight the last time you attempted to put ear drops in he's probably realised that this is a good way to get out of having the medication and will try to put up a fight from now on.

What would I do? If he's being very extreme and it's all getting a bit too much for you:

I would use an empty bottle of eardrops (or similarly shaped item,) first. Just get him used to the idea that the eardrop bottle isn't always a horrible experience. Sometimes the bottle will just be there to pet him or pop some tuna in it. This way he won't be trying to run anywhere instantly at the sight of the bottle.

Then you can progress to using the bottle in one hand and distracting with food or a toy with the other. Finally after some time you'll be able to do the eardrops and then give him his favourite treat/toy as a reward. It will never be pretty but this method should make it slightly easier.

important side note: I wouldn't interrupt his normal feeding time with this practice. You don't want to get him axious around food time you want to create a new event in his day.

I will say that we had a norweigian forest cat and in the last few months of his life had to give him painkillers in a paste. It was the hardest thing I've had to do to date. It was always a two man job, one to hold him down while the other fed him the paste and we had bought leather gloves just to deal with him biting and scratching us. He would run away once we were finished but it really doesn't matter. With an animal it's important to note that their wellbeing comes before how you're feeling personally. It broke my heart to see him that way but there was no other alternative.

I also know cat owners who dread defleeing and worming their cats as this too is also a fight. Unfortunately these things can't be avoided and we must battle through regardless of what the cat thinks of us after.

So, I commend you for coming this far, anxiety and extreme empathy aren't easy to live with when you have a pet but I promise you can pull through this. Remember, the cat doesn't necessarily think you're a threat. He's just not used to you. 2 months is still a short amount of time for an animal to acclimate to it's new surroundings and get into a solid routine.

If you're still struggling you can look up

"My Cat From Hell"

these series are bound to provide you with lots of ideas to help you and your cat.


I hope this message finds you and your cat well and that you still have him. I understand exactly how stressful it can be to look after a cat such as yours because my cat is the same way but you are the right person to have him because you clearly care a lot and some animals have a really hard time out there.

He sounds like a handful but he should get better overtime with care and attention. My cat was exactly the same way when she was younger but as she's gotten older and I gave her more time, she's calmed down a lot and really bonded with me. It's nothing you've done, some cats are naturally stress-prone, but you can do things to help this.

First thing I'd say and maybe most importantly is that a cat needs a hiding place of their own, preferably a comfortable one. All cats need this for a place they can go when they're stressed, or to relax, groom, or whatever. Cats still have primitive instincts that need addressing. For instance, keeping their food and water separate and having a play (hunt) time two or three times a day. I make sticks out of chopsticks and tape with a feather on the end so she can chase that. It's effort but worth it as your cat should be much less stressed. I also recommend doing your own online (and offline) research as I found out so much there.

Ear drops are a tricky one, especially with a wiggly cat. I recommend, if possible, wrapping your cat in a thick or folded towel, that way he cat use his legs (well) and it's also said to comfort them. My vet says even getting a small amount in will help.

I wish you well, any questions please ask, Joe


The truth of the matter is, while there are things you can do to attempt to lessen the problem, this will always be a problem to some extent because of course you can never convince a cat to like taking medicine. Most solutions involve lessening the problem in the long term, but since this situation is temporary, you do also have a few immediate term options available, such as asking a friend to help treat the cat just for now, or contacting the organization you're fostering with and asking for help, advice, or even for someone else to foster the cat.

That said, if you feel like this really is beyond what you are able to handle given your current situation, then absolutely it is wisest to not go through with adopting the cat. Rather than taking this experience as a failure, take it as a valuable lesson about what you are able or not able to do. It's perfectly okay if you realize this is not a responsibility you want long term, especially when you consider that I don't expect giving medicine to ever be completely smooth, and that if you permanently home the cat, you almost certainly will have to give it medicine again at some point in its life. Furthermore, though I really doubt that the cat will hate you forever just because it has to endure some weeks of ear drops, at the same time, you also have to be prepared that your own pet might become scared of you like this because you have to do something it doesn't like for its own good, and that you may even have to put in a lot of extra work to gain back its trust.

Anyways, as for the long term approach, you can try to accustom the cat as much as possible to these things by gradually working through each step of the process, one step at a time, over the course of days or weeks, giving treats as rewards to encourage the cat to accept it. Hopefully the cat will form positive associations, and lessen its stress when you actually have to do things it doesn't like.

The other key is to keep up these exercises outside the thing it doesn't like, so that the cat doesn't notice a pattern and get a bad association. The reason why the feeding plus the ear drops isn't working is because it's a predictable enough pattern that the cat is starting to form a negative association between ear drops and being fed, and so it automatically thinks it has to avoid the ear drops every time it gets fed now. You could try decreasing its portions and feeding more frequently, then giving the drops at irregular meal times to decrease the predictability, but I expect it's going to be difficult to break the bad association now.

For a more concrete example, with the carrier, start feeding the cat near the carrier. Over the course of days, move the dish closer and closer, until the dish is all the way inside, and the cat is happily eating. The next step is getting it to accept you closing the door. Keep feeding the cat in the carrier from them on, and then when you need to go to the vet, just feed the cat, and hopefully it'll go right in.

Getting it used to accepting medicine is harder, and honestly no matter what you do there'll surely be some level of stress, because like I said, no cat likes receiving medicine. But I would try using a similar sort of strategy with treats to work up the cat into allowing you to restrain it long enough to give some medication, particularly its head.

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