Cats are highly independent animals, but even the most independent cat enjoys cuddling up on his owner for a good petting session. If your once-cuddly cat seems standoffish, or if you adopted a feline that does not seem to like attention, there are a number of reasons that could be behind the behavior.
He might be in pain
If your cat used to be the kind who enjoyed cuddling but is suddenly avoiding your touch, something physical may be going on. Cats tend to hide their pain as a survival mechanism, so you may not know that something is wrong right away, according to VCA Animal Hospitals. However, some of the signs of pain in cats include resisting handling or being picked up, aggression when approached or handled and unexpected reactions when touched. If this is the case with your cat, you should bring him to see the veterinarian to determine whether there is a physical problem that needs to be treated.
He might not be in the mood
If all physical injuries are ruled out and your cat still won't cuddle, he might just not be in the mood. Cat aggression can be triggered when an owner tries to cuddle or pet a cat when he is not in a snuggly mood. Any cat owner knows that these independent animals march to the beat of their own drum, which means eating, playing and sleeping is done on their time. Cuddling is the same way. Try allowing the cat to come to you, instead of picking him up while he was sleeping or doing another activity.
He might have had a traumatic past
If your adopted cat isn't snuggly at first, his past may be to blame. Cats who were handled aggressively as kittens or cuddled then punished in some way may have a negative association with cuddling and touching in general. In this case, it is important to start slow and create a positive association for the cat. Always allow your cat to come to you for cuddling as opposed to forcing it, which may instill even more fear. When he allows you to pet him, offer a treat. You could also try petting him just before a meal so he associates petting with a positive experience like food.
Some cats may just not like being picked up, and that is an aspect of their personalities you may need to accept.