To help a fearful kitty, the best thing you can do is to give that cat a safe room to call home, go slowly and be prepared with a lot of great food motivators. The old school thinking of “tough love” for fearful kittens has been replaced by a much gentler, rewards-based interaction. And the proof is in the lasting relationship you’ll build with your fearful friends if you build their confidence by letting them make the choices and keeping their fear at a minimum.

Sit with them, talk to them, offer some really great, tasty food motivators as a reward for every brave thing they do, and eventually you’ll find a more confident cat who feels safe with you because you didn’t push them to interact solely on your terms!

About Jess Vankoningsveld, Behavior Specialist

Jess has worked tirelessly for HSHV since 2001, holding various positions throughout the years and was key in helping create our Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program, our barn adoption program and our cat behavior program. As HSHV’s Feline Behavior Specialist, she’s worked with more shelter cats than can be counted, helping cats of all backgrounds acclimate to new homes as well as helping new adopters problem solve. Working with fearful and frustrated cats in the shelter are two of her specialties, and helping families bond with their new cats is something she has always enjoyed, too.