My cat Wolfie (one and a half years old) regularly kneads his bed before napping, but has only done it once to my arm whilst I was stroking him.
I got him at about 6 weeks old. He was such a shy cat, but after a while sat and fell asleep on my lap, in my bed, under my covers, etc. As he got older he became more feisty and quite aggressive, but I just put it down to being an un-neutered young male. He is now neutered and has calmed down quite a bit, although he hasn't lost his playful nature which is great!
The thing is, ever since he was a kitten, he has not sat on my lap or been comfortable with me stroking him. Unless it's when he just gets in from outside and he lays sprawled out on the floor or when he's in bed. He enjoys it, but the majority of the time, after a couple of minutes he seems uncomfortable and gets up. He will let me touch his tummy only on rare occasions. I really want him to sit on my lap like most cats do, but my Wolfie is untameable; hence the name.
I think it's just personality. Just like some people enjoy hugging and don't mind sitting/standing close to others, and some people really prefer to keep their personal space to themselves.
I have three cats. The oldest one loves getting his lovin'! Anytime, anywhere. The second cat seems a bit "off" mentally/emotionally. She was pulled out of the engine of a car that just pulled into the dealership where my husband worked. She was fine physically (lucky her!), but I think that ride did something to her. She adores my husband the most, but will warm up to me. She is very skiddish. The youngest cat sounds sort of like yours. He is very feisty. He causes trouble with the other two all the time. He's playful, but he's trouble, too. He will not accept loving anywhere but in the bed. If we try to hold and pet him out in the living room, he'll accept it for a few moments, then it's like he remembers we're not in the bedroom & he starts struggling.
We just let it go. I believe it's in their personalities. Maybe it'll be helpful to try to ease your cat into contact. All my cats enjoy being brushed. If your enjoys it, try building up the time you brush him, and sneak in a little petting. But I don't think you should worry yourself over it.
If you get some catnip spray and spray it where you want him to be by you, like on an old towel, then I am sure he would come up and see you. Cats can love people without them liking to be petted. I would give him treats throughout the day. Find a treat he likes, and then give it to him if he comes to sit at your lap. Some cats find peanut butter irresistible. Anyway, let him try some yogurt, as long as it doe not have artificial sweetener in it.
He can have a good time when he is with you, and he might learn to stay closer by. Some cats like to look at you across the room and close their eyes at you. This is the same as a sign language "hug" from a cat. It means they love you.
Also most cats love to be petted above their tail right behind where their tail goes up. This is a place they can't reach. This puts some cats into a trance like state of happiness, like a really good back rub!
Blessings, and just try to have fun with your darling, beautiful cat!
Try brushing him with a natural bristle brush which is much more "gentle" than any other. He'll probably grow more comfortable with your stroking once he sees how nice the brushing is. Just a suggestion.
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