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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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    I do see these questions are closely related, but I am not sure they are exact duplicates. The other question just has outright atrocities that this person does not commit. – user6796 May 11 at 17:28
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    Oh @Yvette I also don't think these questions are duplicates. This one makes me "only" saddened, disappointed and wishing to offer helpful advice, but that one linked as a possible duplicate - oh, I wish I didn't even know it existed, it's deeply disturbing nightmare fuel. At least it's always good and somewhat reassuring if people themselves realize they've messed up and consciously seek help. – lila May 11 at 22:00
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    @lila agree. While I have you here. Feel free to make some tag wiki edits, just be mindful of how to shape them. You're going great guns on the site :) – user6796 May 12 at 8:31
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    Of course @Yvette it's definitely on my shopping list, and thanks a lot for kind words! – lila May 12 at 11:18
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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 keeping cat your 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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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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