Whether you’ve got a brand new kitten who has a more nervous personality or you’ve adopted an older cat who has an established pattern of nervous behavior, it’s not uncommon for cats to be fearful. By nature, they tend to be more hesitant around new people, in new situations, or in new environments. However, there are fortunately many things you can do to help properly care for them and to make them feel as safe and comfortable as possible!
Let Them Come to You
The best thing you can do for most cats is to give them time to adjust. This isn’t always the easiest thing for us humans to do although, it is quite simple. Cats will often just need some more time to acclimate to new people or surroundings. Typically, people’s instinct is to move towards the cat, look at the cat, pet the cat, or even touch the cat. But to a fearful kitty, this can be way too much too fast. They may panic and end up hurting you or themselves to avoid this feeling of anxiety brewing inside of them. The easiest solution here is to let them come to you in their own time. Don’t pressure them and try to force them out of their hiding spots.
Create Positive Associations
Usually with younger kittens, this is a fun and exciting process. However, if you have a cat who’s endured some sort of trauma or abuse, this process may take more time and become much more complicated. Ultimately, there are some cats who can never be won over. But the best way to try is to create positive associations with your presence by giving them food, treats, toys, or even play time if that’s something they enjoy. Nowadays we have so many options for kitty treats and toys. We also have access to endless puzzle games at the touch of a button on popular apps like Amazon or Walmart. Pairing your presence with these positive experiences will help build a bond between you two.
Above All, Respect Them and Be Patient
After your interactions start improving you may be tempted to rush the process and try to go for a face snuggle or some lap pets. For some cats, this will be well received but for others this may reset your progress with them and end up taking longer to repair the relationship than would have initially been needed. This is why we must remember to respect them and their space and be patient always. Keep in mind that you are building this relationship for the long term benefits and that although it may be difficult to fight your human urges for some kitten cuddles, it will likely be worth it in the long run. On the bright side of things, it may be a hard long process to get a cat to like you or even just to trust you, but for most of them, once you’ve been approved you’re good to go! They typically build strong bonds with their “people” whether that be their foster parents, forever parents, or their pet sitter. Once that bond is formed, it’s a great foundation to create a long standing relationship of love and trust.