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Home > Cats > How to Get a Scared Kitten to Trust You: 6 Expert Tips

How to Get a Scared Kitten to Trust You: 6 Expert Tips

owner petting a kitten

Cats are skeptical creatures by nature and getting them to trust you when they’re scared is a tall order. Kittens can be even more scared, especially if you’ve just brought them home or they’re a stray nearby your home. The silver lining is that there are ways you can help soothe their distrust and foster a loving relationship. To find out how to go about it, let’s check out what you can try down below.

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The 6 Tips on How to Get a Scared Kitten to Trust You

1. Learn How to Read Cat Body Language

Like most animals, cats largely communicate through their body language, so understanding that will be the foundation for getting the kitten to trust you. Scared cats stiffen up, stand sideways to make themselves larger, stiffen their tail, and stare at you with dilated eyes. Alternately, they might curl up or straight up run away from you. At first, you should use slow, sure movements and avoid any sudden movements to avoid triggering a flight response.

As the cat becomes more at ease near you, they might take their eyes off you or turn their back to signal some sense of trust. The truly encouraging signs are when the cat lies down or grooms themselves near you because that’s when a cat is most vulnerable, and they typically only groom in comfortable locations.


2. Create a Calm, Welcoming Environment

Cats are attracted to calm, safe spaces with access to plenty of food, water, and recreation. You can put food out for the kitten and give them a soft blanket or bed to lie on, for starters. Allow them to approach the food and bed at their leisure, and don’t overwhelm them if they’re initially timid eating around you.

Kittens don’t usually take to dogs or children very well, but with patience and supervision, they can learn to coexist. If possible, keep your kitten in a cat-proofed room to keep them safe and give them their own space to figure out their boundaries. Some colorful toys like crinkle balls or a cat tower would work wonders in helping them feel more at home too.

bengal kitten lying on white blanket
Image By: Vanilin Ka, Shutterstock

3. Become Less Threatening

Many people don’t realize that the way we approach cats can sometimes come off as scary or threatening to them, so you have to get on their level—literally, if possible. Crouch down or lie down on your stomach in an area near the kitten and talk to them in a soft, soothing voice. Don’t make any sudden movements and let them come to you. They’ll probably be very curious about what you’re doing down there with them. If they don’t seem interested, though, don’t force the matter and simply try again later.


4. Minimize Contact With Other Animals

Kittens have a very keen sense of smell that lets them detect nearly everything you’ve come into contact with—food, drinks, soaps, and even other animals. A kitten’s nose is one of their most powerful tools for gathering information about the world and probably the worst thing for them to smell on you is a dog or an unfamiliar cat. Try to avoid handling other animals or perhaps wash your hands with an unscented soap after touching other pets to minimize potentially scary scents on you.

cute somali breed kitten little cat is sitting on a sofa
Image By: Olga Kri, Shutterstock

5. Wait for the Kitten to Come to You

A cardinal rule of interacting with cats is to let them come to you at their own pace and to never approach them unsolicited unless they’re displaying friendly, relaxed behavior. The best thing you can do is to sit in one spot nearby the kitten and avoid making any loud noises or sudden movements. If they’re not outright feral, the kitten’s innate curiosity should eventually compel them to come check you out.


6. Use Positive Reinforcement

Cats thrive on routine, and adding positive reinforcement to your kitten’s life will help make them warm up to you much faster. Start by giving your kitten a high-value treat they can’t ignore any time they even look at you, and eventually, they’ll learn that being around humans likely leads to getting food. This connection is a powerful one, and rewarding the kitten for looking at you and later for coming to you will be key to establishing a strong bond with the kitty.

On the flip side, never use punishment of any sort with a kitten. They don’t understand it, for one. And it’s just mean. You can discourage undesirable behavior like clawing or hissing by simply ignoring it or redirecting it to a favored toy, but you should never raise your voice or strike your cat.

a kitten getting a treat from owner
Image By: Vershinin89, Shutterstock

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Conclusion

Kittens are some of the most adorable and delicate critters, and you can start earning their trust by making your home a calm, welcoming environment. With patience, the right approach, and tons of treats, anyone can get a scared kitten to trust them within a few weeks to months.

Sources

Featured Image Credit: FamVeld, Shutterstock

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