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My cat hates me


Savannah Child
I got a 1yr old female F2. She is not sociable at all! It's been 2 months and she is still hissing and spitting at me. She does't even like me near her. She runs in her cat house and hisses. When I brought her home, she sprayed all over my carpet in the room I quarentined her in. I can get her to play but it takes a while to get her started. As soon as she sees Im in the room, she hisses. If I try to handle her or move her she actually dumps right on the spot. I had to put her outside in a kennel and she seems comfortable as long as she can't see us. I tried a leash and that drives her nuts. She hates it. I have tried so many things like feremone spray, blinking with eye contact and new toys. She will let me pet her but she doesn't seem comfortable. She growls a lot and sometimes her fur along her spine and tail puff. Im at a loss and don't know how to retrain this cat. 2 Vet's recomended that I return her. What do I do???


Staff member
Was she rehomed for a reason? Is she a retired breeder? Have you talked to the previous owner to find out what her personality was like prior to coming to you? At what age was she spayed? Did you put her outside because of the inappropriate elimination issues or were there other reasons?

I suspect if you are her second owner then either she was improperly socialized to start with, or she was so strongly bonded to her previous owner that she is now going through a grieving process. The loss of her bowels when you enter the room sounds like fear to me. This girl sounds like a cat that will need a lot of time and patience, which I'm afraid she won't get out in a kennel. What I would recommend if possible is to keep her in a bathroom or other room that is tiled for easy cleanup. Leave a crate in the room or put a cat tree in there so that she has a place to retreat to if she feels stressed. Spend as much time as you can in there, sit on the floor reading a book out loud so she gets used to your voice. Once she stops hissing (which may take several days or longer) bring a wand toy with you and swish it gently on the floor occasionally as you are reading. If she doesn't engage, don't worry, just keep trying. If she does keep playing with her for as long as she is interested.

Avoid making eye contact during this time as this can be viewed as threatening. Do not leave food out 24/7 for her to graze on but bring her meals when you come to visit so that she knows you are her provider. Try to find a favorite snack (my cats love the Liv-a-Littles freeze dried chicken) and offer a treat each time you enter the room. Start by placing it halfway between you and her, and gradually over time move it closer to you. Don't worry if she won't take it, but don't leave it behind as she will simply wait for you to leave the next time too.

Hopefully with time she will begin to come around - it may be days or it may be many more months. If you feel you are not making any progress at all you might want to contact Marilyn Krieger, the Cat Coach She has been very helpful for many people in similar situations.


Savannah Child
She was not rehomed. She was with the breeder the whole year and she was never bread. She was spayed a few months before she turned 1. The breeder said she was hissy and does not like being around people much but she will come around. She said if I give her chicken she should butter up to me but she growls when I feed her chicken and is hesitant to take it from me. I bring her in to play with her in my bathroom, and she will play. Then I place her back in her kennel. I did put her outside for the peeing issue and the defecation problems(but I think I force her too much and thats why she defecates). I can't take pee on my carpet and I have carpet in the bathroom. The places with no carpet are mostly in the house that does not have inclosed rooms so shes free to pee all over my furniture. I would love to have her in my home to share with all of us, but she will spray on everything or hide. When I got her from the breeder, she was the only cat that was "scared" of anyone. All the rest of the cats seemed so intrested. I spend HOURS with this cat and feel like every time I get to the point where I think she is trusting me she freaks out after I make any movement. I will contact the cat coach. I feel I definately need it. I hear such wonderful stories about savannahs and I get the total opposite! I am trying really hard and I feel like giving up. I just want her to so much be a loving companion. Thank you for all the info. I will try your advice.

Brigitte Cowell

Staff member
When you hear wonderful stories about Savannahs, you are hearing how it should be...but also what you get when you get a healthy, well-socialized kitten. But when you take on an adult cat that has been rehomed then you are taking on what that cat has become in the house that it was raised in (in this case the breeder's place) AND the trauma that comes of rehoming an adult cat...especially an early generation cat.

If the breeder says the cat was "scared" I would take that to mean the cat was never completely socialized. Some breeders may assume that because they intend to keep that cat as a breeder (and if this cat was almost a year old when spayed that sounds like it was the case) then making sure it is well-socialized is not as important. I have found in the past that sometimes in a litter there is one kitten that does take a little more work. Some when they open their eyes they see a human and are scared and run. If you don't spend the extra time working with them to persuade them that humans really are great then you likely do end up with a skittish and antisocial cat. I have found though that working with them I often end up with the friendliest kitty in the world once you've won their trust but I think it is CRITICAL that you make that happen in their early kittenhood.

I do think that Patti is right, keeping out in a kennel is not ever going to give you progress. You need to work out a way to bring her indoors to work on the litterbox issues (with Marilyn the cat coach's advice would be great) or accept that you will never touch this cat nor have the pet you wanted. I think it very likely that you will never have the cat you might have had if she was properly socialized at an early age either. You can make some progress, but it is unlikely you can reverse all of it. But if you put in the work then the steps you do make will feel huge and worthwhile. I think there is nothing like earning the trust of a very distrustful kitty...

jungle boy

Savannah Super Cat
I have to agree with Brigitte. There TRULY is nothing like earning the trust of a very distrustful kitty. One of our cats, our girl Nala was a rescue ( a domestic cat ) that we adopted from the shelter at close to 6 months of age. She was a feral kitten found alone on the street with no family. I had a feeling that she would be a lot of work and a would be a problem and a challenge but my wife Suzie and daughter Sarah forced me to take her along with another (super friendly) cat now called Simba. For the first few weeks she wouldn't come out from under the bed and she was terrified and basically just no fun at all. I could tell that she did want to be loved and wanted to interact with us but just couldn't bring herself to come near us. I was resigned to the fact that maybe it would be a one-sided relationship and that was ok because I knew what a great life she had with us compared to being locked in that cage in the shelter and the fact that she was a free woman now made me feel really happy for her even though she was unable to offer us any love or companionship in return. So just knowing that we did right by her and changed her life for the better was very comforting. I also imagined how badly this could have ended if someone with less patience had adopted her, so that fact made me sleep better as well. So, lo and behold, two years later, Nala is the queen of our castle, the apple of my eye and SHE truly is a blessing to US and not the other way around. It took a LOT of hard work and patience but it was truly worth it. Every little thing ,every inch of progress was big news at our home!

"Wow, Dad look, Nala came out from under the bed!"
"Hey George, look she's reaching for you, she wants to play!" But then she would pull back and quickly run away. This went on for what seemed like forever! If I had a dollar for every time that someone in my family yelled,"Oh my God, look at Nala!" , I'd be a rich man. We rejoiced in every little bit of progress that she made. Suzie would call me at work to tell me about something that she did for the first time or some new trust that she showed in us! it was SOOO rewarding, encouraging and heartwarming that I really can't put it into words!

So, on and on it went, and it WAS baby steps. She would come out for a few seconds and then hide again, etc . But I observed that as time went by, she was making progress. Sometimes in a race, it's not where you finish on the track that's the most important, but what's most important is where you started that race! And when I look into Nala's eyes now as she peacefully lays in the sun on her cat lounger, and she looks back at me with all the love and trust in the world I realize that when I thought that I was such a blessing to her, I had it all wrong, SHE is a blessing to me! Sometimes when you just do the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing it all comes back to you in ways that you never imagined!! ;)

Brigitte Cowell

Staff member
What a wonderful description of the progress you have made with Nala! And especially the reward you have gotten for your commitment and patience and love :)


Staff member
George, what a wonderful story! Nala is so lucky to have you and your family and you have described your triumphs so wonderfully! I am so happy you chose her...I remember going to the shelter (BC) and Smokey reaching out of his cage tot ouch me and turn somersaults as if he was saying, "pick me" ;) There was another kitten in the cage with him, who was a ball of fluff, so I took them both...I think I was around 23...they both lived long lives to the ages of 21 years old and both took a lot of work, but it was most rewarding...and same thing with Cisco now...I so much appreciate you sharing Nala's story.


Savannah Child
Thank you all for the info and wonderful stories. It gives me inspiration. So, when I feed Isis, do I bring her out of her kennel into the house to eat and wait for her to eat? The problem is getting her out. She hisses, spits, and sometimes takes a swat at me when she hides in her little cat house or litterbox. She will reach back with her head and motion towards my hand when I grab her as if to bite me but she never bites. And thats where she sometimes defecates:poop:! So I have to somehow get her in her cat house and carry that into my bathroom where she stays in it which seems like forever. So getting her out to eat will be a feat in itself. She does like cooked chicken, but she will poke her head out to eat it from my hand but again, getting her out seems imposible unless I actually dump her out of it. I have tried to put the chicken on the floor for her to come out but she will just ignore it. It's the same with play time. I swift the wand in front of her while she is in her house and she will reach at it only if it is front of her. She refuses to get out, so again, I have to just dump her out and continue playing. I will then come close to her to pet her after and she will let me but not without the hissing and snapping at my hand. She will settle down and I will brush her but she is soo hesitant about it. Any movement by me gets her in a hissy fit. Then off she goes to her cat house and back to her kennel. As soon as she doesn't see me, she's out and moving around. She also paces back and forth in her kennel too which worries me. Her attitude seems sooo strong. My vet prescribed prozack for her which I just started to give to her but I don't like the fact that my cat has to be on meds! I do notice that when I can get her in a little cat bed, she relaxes. I can carry her around in that like a babyo_O She hides her face and digs it in the corner of the fluff and makes no reaction as if she can't see me, then everythings O.K. for her.
If I keep her in the house again, how do I defeat the spraying? I looked at my carpet with a black light and seen that she went to town on certain spots. It seemed she liked against the mirrior of my closet, and by the bottom of the door crack corner which seperates my dressing room and bedroom(my bathroom is connected to my dressing room where she sprayed the carpet and mirrior). I really want to bring her back in but cant afford the spraying issues. I will get a larger cat tree, put 2 litterboxes, and keep a feeding routine. But how will I know she wont spray? That is the huge issue between my bofriend and I. :( And the only reason she's outside. Im so afraid she will spray the intire house. I am going to also take Patti's advice and contact the cat coach next week. So, what do you all think? Will I be doing enough? Do you think it will work or has anyone gone through these exact issues and come out a success? Thank you all again for any help!