I applaud you for adopting an adult cat! After everything she's been through, she will certainly need great TLC, and I know you are the ones to give it to her.
Due to her past circumstances, she was never properly socialized to humans and that's why she won't let you or your husband touch her or pat her. She is stressed and anxious and afraid of humans, but you can turn this around. It WILL be a process and may take a while, but if you move gradually toward this goal, I think it can be accomplished.
First, we need to address her stress/anxiety, so get some Feliway plug in diffusers, which emit calming pheromones, only detected by cats; it has no scent to humans.
In addition, there are two other over the counter calming remedies that may help. Choose only one, as both cannot be given to the cat at the same time. Rescue Remedy for Pets is a homeopathic, liquid supplement that can be added to her water bowl, food, or put directly into her mouth. Follow directions on the bottle. Here is more information:
Composure treats for cats are also used for stress relief:
The way to a cat's heart is through her stomach, so I would suggest, trying to entice her with tasty, cat-healthy treats. Offer her the treat from your palm and if she's not confident enough to take it, put it on the floor and if she still doesn't go near it, walk out of the room, but try to watch to see what she does. If she takes the treat, repeat this routine at around the same time every day, so she knows where the treat is coming from and will look forward to it. When you offer it to her, initially, speak to her softly, repeat her name a lot (this seems to calm cats) and then, if she won't eat it while you're there, just walk out. You can increase this to twice a day, if she seems to be going for it.
Her environment needs to be enriched, so if you don't already have these, get her a tall kitty condo or cat tree, with different levels and 'hidey' holes, plus, it can double as a scratching post, because it is covered in carpeting material. If she doesn't seem interested, rub it with some catnip and see if this evokes her interest. Get one with a platform up on top, as cats feel safe, up high. She might even like to sleep up there.
Next, get her some new toys; she will love these, and there's even a cat dvd showing other 'critters' at play, sleeping, etc., that will attract her interest, because anything that moves attracts a cat's interest. Put her toys into groups and change out each group every few days, so she feels like she's getting new toys every time.
You can also play with her with interactive toys like a feather wand. This is a 'fishing pole' toy, which is a stick that has an elastic string attached and at the end of the elastic is an interesting toy. You can dangle it for her and allow her to catch it a few times, then pull up and dangle it some more. This is something you must play WITH her, and not leave alone with her, because pieces can be chewed off, so put it away where it is inaccessible, when you're finished playing. What you can do at first, is lay the dangly toy on the floor, next to her, and then as she's watching, move it slightly, then move it again; her instinctive 'hunt/pounce' as with 'prey', will set in, and she might keep following it and trying to pounce on it; then, you can pick it up off the floor, via the pole/elastic, gently, so you don't startle her, and start playing with it with her.
Right now, the main thing to gain, is her trust and also to diminish her stress/anxiety, so take everything slowly, speak to her all the time, and she will soon feel more confident to allow you to touch her or pat her.
Try all of my suggestions, slowly, one by one (don't deluge her with everything at once) and then, after a while, praise her and give her a pat and walk away.
I hope you will see some improvements in the future and thank you for giving this furry girl a safe and loving home!
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