cat and man
My husband, Jared, was a cat guy even before we met. He had the world’s coolest kitty, Meeko, who I adored right away. Everyone did. And while she didn’t exactly become my best buddy immediately, she was always friendly with me and happy to sit on my lap — as long as Jared’s wasn’t available, of course.

After Meeko passed away a few years ago and we decided we were ready to bring a new kitty into our lives, I made it clear that I didn’t want to adopt one of those adorable kittens that everyone loved — I wanted to open our home to a friendly adult cat who hadn’t had it so easy. One who people had overlooked. One who really needed a home.

And 2-year-old Trixie certainly fit the bill: She landed in the shelter after having a litter of kittens behind an apartment building and was nearly deemed feral before the rescue I work with took her in. All of her kittens were quickly adopted, but, even though she’d proven to be friendly with people, potential adopters just didn’t seem to see her. We made a point to seek her out once we’d heard her story, and she climbed onto my lap immediately, sealing the deal.

(I should note here that it was probably longer than a year before she set a single white paw on my lap again. But we got there, eventually.)

Her transition to life with our two dogs and us wasn’t exactly seamless, but aside from some marking incidents that resulted in lovely new floors (I hated the carpet, too, so really, Trixie did us a favor!), she slowly settled in. Now, two and a half years after becoming a member of the family, it’s clear that she’s very happy and content, even licking our 65-pound Lab mix’s face and snuggling up with me while purring so loudly I’m sure our neighbors can hear her.

Until Jared tries to pet her, that is.

Trixie the cat
The moment he reaches toward her, she’s off like a shot — she’s not violent or aggressive about it, but she’s definitely not interested in letting him touch her. It’s not because he’s a man, because she’s affectionate with my father and with many of our male friends. And it’s not because he does anything to antagonize her (at least, not consciously). She rubs up on him a little when she’s on her cat tower and he’s putting food in her bowl, but, otherwise, she typically wants nothing to do with him.

Honestly, it’s heartbreaking. The person who wanted to love this cat more than anything in the world has been rebuffed again and again. We went through all the things we knew to do — having him be the one to feed her and give her special treats, only trying to pet her when she’s the one making the approach — but none of it has gotten Trixie any closer to sitting in Jared’s lap.

So we reached out to Vetstreet’s resident trainer, Mikkel Becker, for help. In this short series, she’ll share her tips and training suggestions, and we’ll give them our best shot and report back with frank, honest feedback on what’s working — and what’s not. We’ll also try to assess why certain strategies are more successful than others — things may go just as planned, but it’s also possible that Trixie won’t respond or we will have trouble following through. We promise to be honest, though, and we’re optimistic that with Mikkel’s help, Jared and Trixie can finally make friends.

Operation: Teach Trixie to Love Jared is already underway. At Mikkel’s suggestion, we’ve started by making some simple changes to our routine, including throwing mini "cat parties" with all of Trixie’s favorite stuff when Jared is around. Want to know how this is working? Read the next installment here:  Teaching My Cat to Love My Husband — Step 2

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