After working at PAWS Tinley Park for years, I discovered a great little tip for working with cats that often would calm even the most nervous feline. This technique is sometimes called "cat kisses" and involves simply catching a cat's stare and then slowly, very slowly, blinking. Often the cat will return the blink or at least start to soften his or her eyes. Once you've got them returning your kiss, you've connected with that kitty in the most amazing way and you haven't even touched them.
At the shelter, terrified cats often hide in their cages, wide eyed and anxious. When a cat ends up in the shelter they don't understand why "their" people are gone or why they are suddenly in a scary new location and trapped in a small cage. Even cageless environments often use a cage to get a cat accustomed to a room with other roaming cats.
Winning a shelter cat over can be a great victory for both the volunteer and the cat. However, "cat kisses" can be great for your own cat at home and is a way to tell them you love them.
Not all cats like to be endlessly petted. That can feel good to us humans, but cats sometimes have a limited amount that they want to be stroked. Don't take this personally. After all, how long would you want to be petted in the same location. Try it for 5 minutes and you'll quickly discover that you're done too.
The truth is that the best thing for any cat is usually a variety of techniques that include petting, playing, talking to them, keeping their cat box clean and doing something unique like giving your kitty a blinking kiss. So try giving your kitty some "kisses" and see how he or she responds.