When he was a baby I held him and gave him to my mom to hold, to which he promptly freaked out and ran away. She didn't do anything or hurt him, just probably held him a bit to tightly but let him go less than a second after receiving him. Nonetheless that quick interaction has been the last interaction he has allowed her, always regarding her with a weary eye and running away at the hint of any movement on her part.

Recently I brought him over to live with her and try to come by and visit when I can. He will still be affectionate towards me but he doesn't trust me around her so he immediately freaks out whenever she makes a noise or moves a hand or I come near her whilst holding him. She feeds him and everything, and he comes up to her for food but that's it. At least he does that, but he's a selfish little brat and will take every opportunity to act like she would gladly eat him given the chance!

How am I supposed to socialize him, to her let alone anybody else? Indeed he does seem a bit more comfortable with men at least. I made the mistake of not putting in enough effort while I did have him, to try and acclimate towards other living beings and as such he still acts just like the baby he once was.

What am I supposed to do now?

I wish I didn't reward that behavior with my affection but by now it's too late, and my mother is set in her ways and is unwilling or unable to do much to change her own actions accordingly.

Is there anything else I can do, or perhaps lightly suggest that she try, to attempt to bond with him so he can be more comfortable or even loved by anything or anyone other than me?

  • How old is he now? How long has he lived with your mother? How does your mother behave toward him?
    – Allison C
    Jul 14, 2022 at 20:30
  • Few years. She feeds him talks to him but doesn't approach because she knows he's scared. I try to get her to try a little more, stick her hand out let him smell her or have him eat close to her but she doesn't feel like changing what she's doing. Says he'll come around but its been several months now and if anything he's only gotten worse
    – Zach
    Jul 15, 2022 at 1:34

1 Answer 1


Understanding your cat.

Because we talk about cats so much as being highly evolved predators, we tend to forget they are also prey to larger animals. When he takes "every opportunity to act like she would gladly eat him given the chance!" it's because his instincts are telling him exactly that. Humans are big, and we have the look of a predator, with large eyes on the front of our faces.

Some cats have more pronounced instincts to survive from predators, so it may simply be his personality to be particularly wary of strangers. But if this is not the behavior you are used to when he was living with you, it's also common for cats to show more of these instincts when they are stressed, such as when they have been re-homed.

Your mom will just have to put in the time and effort to win the cat over.

There really is no shortcut here. The only person that can make the cat learn to accept your mom is your mom. No one can do it for her. If your cat is naturally a more skittish personality type, it may even take considerable time and effort. A very outgoing or affectionate cat might approach a human who's never bothered trying to make friends, but other cats will not unless the human has made attempts already to be friendly.

Feeding the cat is a good step, but just setting down the food for him might not be enough. She should use the food to entice the cat closer and closer, and eventually to eat out of her hand, and then to touching him. If you know of any treats he really loves, she could try using treats much the same way, and he might be willing to accept her even more quickly. Play using a feather wand toy or some such can also be used to draw the cat closer.

Try to minimize his stress to maximize the results.

The one other thing she can do to help speed things up a little is to minimize the cat's stress. The less stressed he feels, the less likely he is to flee when he starts getting nervous.

She should pick a room he feels comfortable in, and a time when she doesn't expect too much movement or noise. Then she should try to approach him in the least threatening way possible:

  • She should move slowly and quietly.
  • She should never look him directly in the eye.
  • Blink her eyes slowly, which is cat language for, "Don't worry, I'm calm and relaxed."
  • She should sit on the floor if she can, to be as small as possible.
  • She should be careful to not tense up. To a cat, tensing up is a sign you might be getting ready to pounce on them.
  • If she reaches out to pet him, she should start by keeping her hand low where the cat can see it, rather than trying to pet him from above or behind.
  • If he hides, she should try to entice him out with treats or play. She should never try to force him out of his hiding spot, or attempt to see him in his hiding spot.

Though I've never used them myself, some people also recommend frome pheromone diffusers to help lower their cat's stress levels.

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