My partner and I adopted a 7 month old cat yesterday, she seemed fine, we were in her safe room for a few hours at a time, and she was curious and played and explored just fine. No hissing, and only a low growl when I attempted to let her sniff my hand, which is fine.

Today we were in her safe room, my partner had gotten up early and was with the new cat for a few hours before I entered. She was playing, and even touched and sat beside my partner. My partner then left the room, leaving me and the cat, she jumped up near me, I said hello, she hissed. Then she went to the door and began meowing/yowling at it. I left her in the room, and after telling my partner she went back into the room with the cat, who then also hissed at her and hit my partner's leg with her paws. So we left her in the safe room, but we can still hear her yowling from behind the closed door.

I also want to mention that she has not yet been spayed.

What should we do? I'm a little lost and any help would be appreciated, I've owned dogs before but never a cat.

  • Welcome to pets.SE! What did your partner do while she left the safe room? I could imagine some smell, the cat did not recognized, maybe something you both eat or drink for breakfast? Dogs would react to such differences in smell if they are new and feel not complete save until now, but I am not sure about cats. May 2, 2021 at 15:21
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    She went to use the bathroom, then started cooking breakfast before heading up to see what was wrong. Just an update, we let her out of the safe room and she's been happily exploring, except whenever I get near to her she does a low growl and hiss. She also came up to me to sniff my hand, (after trying to coax her with a treat of some tuna) and then low growled and hissed again. Each time I give her more space, but it's a little disheartening getting hissed at every time.
    – Cavin
    May 2, 2021 at 16:09

2 Answers 2


Look at things from the cat’s perspective: she was taken from everything she knows and dropped in a confined space with two strange animals ten-plus times her size. She is scared out of her mind, just as you would be in that situation, and hissing is one of the ways a cat tries to intimidate other animals to leave it alone without risking a fight.

Also, keep in mind that cats identify more by smell than by sight. If you have different smells on you every time she sees you (a more common issue with women), she may not recognize you’re the same person until she learns to recognize the personal scent hidden underneath your soap, shampoo, lotion, perfume, etc.

While it’s great you’re spending time with her, do your best to ignore her for now. Let her come up and sniff you without trying to pet her (which she may misinterpret as an attack). Let her get to know your voice from talking on the phone or reading out loud.

How long this phase will last depends on each cat’s personality; it could be days, weeks or months. But eventually, you will see signs that she trusts you and is ready for more direct interaction.


In addition to StephenS's answer, you can improve your relationship with the cat via nonverbal communication.

Every time you go into her safe room, you should do the "lazy cat blink" at her to tell her that you're friendly and don't want to fight. Never ever stare into her eyes or you destroy any chance at a peaceful life together. Looking at a spot next to her instead of directly at her or outright ignoring her is far better, and repeating the "lazy cat blink" every once in a while will hopefully calm her down.

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