I adopted a 5-month-old feral kitten who had been fostered for socialization. Initially she was very skittish so I kept her in a small room in which I could reach into her hiding spots.

She stiffened and shook with fear when I picked her up and held her, but eventually would relax and purr. When I would try to hold her again, she would be back at ground zero (for zero progress).

Now that I’ve had her for six weeks, she has access to my whole house and has made friends with my older cat. Yet I’m still unable to approach her. If I take one step in her general direction or even if our eyes meet, she races away to hide in an inaccessible hiding spot.

She now will initiate contact with me only when I’m sitting on my couch or on my bed (probably because she copied the older cat doing so). Then she’ll plop down beside me, relax, and accept pets and tickles. The moment I stand up from the couch she’ll speed away and hide. The moment I take one step away from my bed I suddenly turn into a Scary Monster.

I usually try to act chill and not push her to be touched. She’ll accept treats if I throw them near her, but she won’t come up to my hand. She’ll run after balls if I throw them near her, but she won’t interact with strings or wands that I pull.

My kitten now has giardia, and so far I have been unsuccessful at giving her the oral liquid. First I have to wait for her to join me on the couch, which doesn’t even happen every day. Then I try to wrap her up in a towel, tip her head up, and to insert the syringe. She’s an expert at gymnastically escaping my grasp and leaving my hand shredded and bloody.

How can I get her to let me approach her? Do I have to go back to keeping her in one room without inaccessible hiding spots?

1 Answer 1


Great question! Cats are so funny like this! I think your cat is very scared (obviously). There may have been something in the past that may have traumatized her.

One of my best recommendations would be to try not to be threatening. It is so hard not to want to pull cats out of their hiding places, but doing so can really make them tense up, feel threatened, and more scared. I would try to coax her out of the hiding spot rather than pull her out. Our kitten hid all the time when we first got him. One thing we would do is sit close to the hiding spot and rest there for awhile either by laying or sitting. This made us not some giant tower coming towards him. Slowly he would gain confidence being in our presence. We could also get him interested in coming out by playing with him. We would get some toys and tempt him to come out.

As far as eye contact, I read something the other day to not make eye contact with cats because they can find it very threatening. I guess it’s what they do when they are in confrontation with other animals. However, they do like slow blinks. Slow blinks are a sign of trust, affection, and love. So if you manage to catch her eyes, you could try a slow blink. Sometimes if you’re lucky they will give you a slow blink back.

I think it is great that she comes and joins you! That is perfect and find ways to encourage that behavior! You could give her treats or something.

Medicine is so tricky! One thing that we have tried and been successful with is mixing the medicine with small amounts of wet food (since it was liquid medicine). Then we tried giving the medicine first in the bowl and food after. Our cat ate the medicine on his own! It is a terror trying to stick a syringe in their mouths. If it is a pill I know they make these things called pill pockets, which is like a treat you can slip the pill in. If you try these maybe feed the kitten separately than when you feed the older cat.

Also there are a ton of YouTube videos on how to get your cat to like you.

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