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Well, I used to hit my cat from time to time when he did something wrong. He had just turned one year old and I’ve been hitting him so much lately, that now he no longer asks for cuddles, kisses or play with me or anything like that, although we were so close and he used to sleep next to me every time since he was so small. I guess he doesn’t trust me anymore, I messed up.

Please tell me, what could I do to make him love me and trust me again?

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    What was the cat doing so wrong that you felt you needed to hit it? I don’t believe in hitting animals and I’m not judging you, I just can’t imagine any reason to do it.... May 13 '20 at 0:23
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    Cats are known to have 'episodic memory' and are able to recall details of when and where. It is possible you have destroyed your relationship with your cat. It may be possible to regain some trust, but I doubt he will ever look at you the same way again.
    – PCARR
    Sep 18 '20 at 14:25
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Thank you for asking for help.

It's not ok to hit cats, or any animals for that matter. There's some large breed dogs and horses that can cope with a slap (not hard) - but not actually to be hit and not beaten.

The cat doesn't understand why you are hitting it and it would have little to no trust in you and probably doesn't like you. I know I wouldn't like someone who hit me often, in fact anyone who hit me at all. A cat cannot get into your head and understand what you are doing.

This cat relies on you for safety, comfort and a kind home. If you cannot offer this to the cat, then you really need to find a good home for the cat.

Steps to rebuild the relationship

  1. NEVER HIT THE CAT AGAIN
  2. Allow the cat to come to you. Do not try to force affection/pats.
  3. Give the cat many small feeds per day and find what it really enjoys. Something like sardines, so it associates a good thing with you.
  4. You can start some kind of play. A toy on a string for it to chase. Be mindful to keep it on the floor, if you dangle it at this stage the cat may feel threatened.
  5. Talk in a kind tone to the cat at all times. Listen to how I talk to my horse.
  6. When the cat approaches you, pet it from an angle you do not hit it from.
  7. Last and not least. Investigate what is intolerant in you that causes you to snap and hit the cat. Pets require an abundance of patience. They are vulnerable and dependent on us. It is NEVER the Pets Fault. Unwanted behaviour (often construed as "bad") is always the owner's fault and often times a natural part of the animal's behaviour that requires acceptance on the part of the owner.

Repeat NEVER HIT THE CAT AGAIN.

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Please refrain from hitting your cat ever again. Not only is it abusive, but also completely counterproductive in the context of behavioral training because a cat would not even realize the causal relationship - I mean a cat would not associate being hit with a concept of punishment for having done something wrong, the only effect of that would be what you observe now: fear, repulsion and distrust.

As for repairing your relationship with the cat: at first please accept that fully recovering your cat's trust might turn out to be impossible. A little cheesy but otherwise clever saying goes that the trust is like a vase: if it's broken you could glue it together but the blemishes would be clearly there and the vase's quality would significantly drop.

While it might not be possible to completely, you could at least partially regain your cat's trust but it wouldn't be quick. Give your cat as much time as it needs and it's traumatic memories should slowly fade out provided all its old mental wounds wouldn't be opened anymore. It probably would be a long process - as his trauma wasn't caused over a single day, neither will be recovering from it. Obviously you can't just apologize to your cat with words, so you would need to show it by your actions and behavior. Please don't be intrusive in the context of giving your cat company, petting, etc. and don't press the cat into an interaction if it's not willing for it. Slowly and surely your cat might realize that you're not a danger anymore and the relationship should at least partially improve.

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I am composing this message because highest voted answer misses some very crucial parts. Similar questions are unfortunately abundant here, so I adapted another answer of mine.

  • Panting in cats is a sign of extreme stress. Do not approach him if he is panting.

  • Get some cat treats and occasionally offer him. Don't overuse this, because treats are harmful when they are consumed in large amounts.

  • Extend your finger to him while keeping your distance. If he smells your finger, it means he lets you touch him. This is how you ask for consent from a cat. Touch him only when he gives you explicit consent.

  • If he is too afraid to approach even your finger, point something to him that smells of you. It could be your glasses if you wear ones, your watch, even your mobile. This will give him an extra distance, so if he is too afraid to approach you, this can be your starting ground.

  • Do the lazy blinks. The meaning of lazy blinks is disputed. Some people claim they are just signs of non-aggression and some people think they are smiles by the cat. Whatever it is, animals don't close their eyes before they make an aggression, therefore it instills some trust that you will not hit your cat for the time being.

  • If he is willing, play with him with strings and other toys. Don't touch him unnecessarily and never pick him up. I have never seen a cat enjoying being picked up. At best, they tolerate it.

  • You can let him eat from your hand, provided you first point your finger to him.

Finally, while there are some ways to discipline a cat, violence is never a solution. Cats do not try to please you, therefore showing them that you are displeased does not work. Cats stick with you as long as it also suits them. If things go south for a long time, they leave. If they can physically leave, they will. If they can't leave the house, they will act distant. They might even show some signs of aggression if you approach them.

If you want to discipline a cat, the disciplining should be while he is doing the deed. You don't like him jump on the kitchen counter? You discipline him when he is on the counter, not when you realise there are wet pawprints on the counter. There is a hierarchy of steps to take when he tries to do something he is not supposed to do.

  • Blow on his face.
  • Spray water on his face.
  • Scare him (for example with a vacuum cleaner)
  • Chase him (again with a vacuum cleaner)

If he is one of the cats that is not afraid of the vacuum, you can use some other thing to cause unexpected sound to scare him. Hitting on the ground in a close vicinity of the cat (like 1 meter, or 3 feet) with a club would also scare him away.

In your special case, however, you have to give up disciplining for a long time, at least until you regain his full trust. If you jump the gun, all your effort to patch up your relationship will go to waste.

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