Foster Mom Socializes Scared Kittens That Are ‘Tough Nuts To Crack’


Foster mom Jennifer in Indiana took in a batch of six “Nuts” on behalf of Hamilton County Humane Society. At six weeks old, they would only need a short time in foster care, but they were spicy and fearful of humans. Thus, they needed socialization before they could find forever homes.

Although fearful, the Nuts were having a great time when Jennifer wasn’t watching, as she saw through a Petcube cam. After a time to adjust to their new home, she would begin “pushing them out of their comfort zone” to become used to being around people.

“This group is definitely a lot spicier than my last two groups,” she said. “They aren’t food motivated yet, but I’m hoping that will change. I’m going to start pushing them out of their comfort zone this weekend, which means a lot of purritos and patting! They are completely carefree when I’m being still/quiet and am not in their space. Hopefully it won’t be too long before they are like that all the time!”

Although these kittens were spicy, she was confident they would warm up to being around people.

“They do not like it when I come into the room. Soon they will not like it when I leave,” she said.

Tough Nuts to Crack

By playing with toys on a long thin string, the “cat dancer,” the kittens became braver so long as the foster mom kept her hands away, If they saw her hands, they would hiss and run.

“They still have a long way to go. They will hiss and retract away even if I just slowly hold my hand out towards them. They are going to be tough nuts to crack, so I decided to do a nut theme for their names!”

The First Nut to Crack

If the kittens could, they would stay far away, looking cautiously at Jennifer. However, when one kitten was brave, the others soon learned to be brave too.

The Nuts sit in the little cardboard car

Wally, the biggest nut, was also the bravest, and Jennifer suspected he would be the first nut to crack, which turned out to be correct. His brother Macadamia with beautiful mackerel stripes, was also among the bravest of the group. So, they taught their siblings that it was all ok.

“Meet Walnut, aka Wally! 🥜 Wally is the biggest of the litter and is going to be one of the first to crack. He LOVES toys and plays hard. He’s like a little bulldozer when he’s playing and will plow through anything in his way, including his siblings! 😹 He’s so much fun to watch,” shared Jennifer.

Walnut the kitten or Wally

Walnut the kitten or Wally

The other nuts included Pistachio and Hazelnut, both marbled with beautiful markings. These two were partners in crime and escape artists, turning up in unusual places together, like in front of the microwave. 

Then, there was the most fearful kitten, Almond, the slimmest girl. She and Hazelnut, her sister, were slower to warm up to their foster mom.

“The girls… Hazelnut and Almond. 💖”

The girl kittens sit in a box

Cashew had the lightest fur, “the prettiest face,” and a long bushy tail. 

Cashew has a big fluffy tail, The Nuts

Cashew the kitten

This kitten had a knack for taking so many cute pictures.

“Can you even stand how cute Cashew is? 🥹”

Cashew makes funny poses

Two Nutcrackers

Along with using toys to socialize the kittens, Jennifer deployed two nutcrackers in her arsenal -resident foster cats Bodie and Bear. Right away, Cashew warmed up to the older cats, and by taking cues from them, he started to lose his tough shell. Then, hopefully, the others would follow. Like people, kittens learn valuable things from their elders.

“Papa Bear and the gang. 🤗”

Bear the foster cat with the nuts

“Bodie and Mac! 😻”

Bodie and Bear foster cats

Together, Bodie and Bear helped Cashew loosen up his shell.

“Cashew made a lot of progress today! I think Bodie and Bear really encouraged him to come out of his shell. When he was loving on them, he let me start petting him. He seems to enjoy head and back scritches and even let me pick him up. He still gets nervous and will shy away if I approach too quickly, but given that he would run away if I barely touched him before, this is a huge improvement! Good job, Cashy! 🥰”

Cashew the kitten, The Nuts, New Kittens on the Block! Foster mom Jennifer Woo, Indianapolis, Indiana

Next, Hazelnut cracked, allowing mom to pet her while distracted by a toy. However, Pistachio earned the nickname Hisstachio, remaining standoffish if he saw Jennifer coming. And Almond proved to have the hardest shell of all, resisting interaction.

Nevertheless, with patience, determination, cat dancer toys, the older cats, and soft blankets, the last of the nuts finally cracked. Surprisingly, even Almond started hanging out on her foster mom’s lap.

The Nuts Leave the Nest

In late September, the Nuts were ready for their big day: vaccinations and spay/neuter. Then, they would be ready for new homes at Hamilton Humane Society. Although their foster mom cracked their hard shells, they would still need patience.

“While they’ve all come a long way over the past month, some of them will need patient adopters who will continue to work with them on socialization and go slowly with them while they acclimate to their new home and new humans,” she said.

Cashew and the nuts waved goodbye to foster care.

Cashew the kitten waves goodbye

Soon, Cashew and Hazelnut found a home together. Next, Pistachio and Macadamia found homes, followed by Walnut and even once shy Almond. 

Two tabby kittens waving their paws and standing up on hind legs

It’s hard to say goodbye, but soon, Jennifer would welcome “new kittens on the block” again, Mama Fern and her Evergreens. For more, you can follow New Kittens on the Block on Instagram. Those in Hamilton County, Indiana, can follow the Humane Society here. 


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