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Behavior Department: Turning Fearful Cats Friendly

Training method aims to make frightened cats more adoptable

My cat Archie is my confident, affectionate, cuddle-bug cat. He melts in my arms for attention. But if he ever got lost and wound up in an animal shelter, he might quickly deteriorate into an “unadoptable” fearful cat. Potential adopters might walk by his cage and not give more than a brief glance at my gorgeous orange tabby. Archie would be practically invisible, crouching in the back of his cage in his litter box. If not for his microchip and ID tags, he might well end up euthanized.

People gravitate to cats who sit confidently at the front of their cages with their head, body, and tail held high. We all know that the more friendly cats seem, the more likely people are to interact with them, which can lead to adoptions. As a longtime animal rescue foster parent and trap-neuterreturn (TNR) volunteer, I have a special place in my heart for all of the feral cats and fearful cats who do not meet adoptability criteria, and thus are not likely to ever achieve their happily-ever-after ending. They are truly the underdogs (or undercats!) in the animal welfare world. Fearful or feral cats are not a lost cause; rather, they are a puzzle in need of a solution.

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