Fear Free Handling


Coming to a shelter is probably one of the scariest things that can happen to a cat, even at our kind and gentle Haven! They have been stripped of everything they know and love and find themselves lost in the unfamiliar.

Imagine bringing your own sweet cat to a conventional shelter. Research proves that, in the first several days, even the best cat expert won’t be able to tell your cat from a completely unsocialized, feral cat. Both will probably be either cowering or frozen in fear, overwhelmed by the new sights, sounds and smells of their new situation. This can make cats appear unadoptable and put them at risk for euthanasia.

Since we opened in 2011, Happy Cats Haven has been committed to reducing the fear in our shelter cats to get them–and keep them!–more adoptable. It’s all about making the cats feel safe.

Happy Cats Haven is now officially Fear Free Certified. This program was started to make sure that the emotional well-being of pets is taken care of, along with their health. Five members of the Happy Cats team are certified in Fear Free Handling and we teach it to all of our staff and volunteers. This is an expansion of the compassion and respect for cats we’ve taught all along, honing our skills and helping us to better care for our cats.

We teach people how to transport their cats with less fear and give away a carrier cover with every adoption to make them feel safer. We teach Shy Cat Handling to our staff and volunteers to be respectful of cats’ needs when handling them, which can be very feline specific. When cats are less afraid, their stress goes down. When their stress is down, they stay healthier. It also increases their confidence, and when that happens, we have happy, healthy cats for adoption!

Fear Free Pets now offers certification for shelter volunteers for free! Go to Fear Free Shelters and get started here. They have lots of great resources to help your favorite felines feel less stress during their stay in shelters.

Fear Free Pets also now offers support for all pet owners on their Fear Free Happy Homes site. Like our own website, they have lots of great resources and videos for simple ways to keep your own cat happy, both emotionally and physically.

We’re very proud to be a part of this great program, which we hope will help cat guardians everywhere to keep cats in their homes! Enjoy this great video on Cat Body Language, which we use to teach our own volunteers about how to better communicate with all cats.

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