If you are the proud parent of a new kitten – congratulations, you are at the start of a wonderful journey. You can help your cat be happy and well-adjusted by beginning to socialize the cat as early as possible. Follow these easy steps:
Start Handling the Cat as Early as Possible
If a kitten’s mother does not mind you handling her kittens, begin petting and stroking them as soon as possible after birth. Keep your handling sessions brief and be sure to wash hands before and after in order to avoid transmitting disease. Be sure to handle the kittens every day for the best results.
Even if you mean well, excessive or rough handling can actually work against you and produce kittens that are skittish and afraid. If the kitten seems uncomfortable during any of your handling sessions, put her back with her mother and littermates and put the socialization session off until another day. This is one of the most important steps of kitten socialization due to the fact that it is incredibly difficult to re-socialize a cat that has had poor experiences with people.
Introduce Other Animals
Once the kitten is old enough to walk, eat and drink by herself, begin introducing other animals during the socialization sessions. If you have a dog that is friendly and well natured, place him on a leash and allow him to meet the kitten in a controlled environment. Be sure that you are not overloading the kitten and stop the sessions immediately if either party seems overwhelmed or fearful. Doing this will help the kitten become confident around other animals.
Introduce Other People
Introducing other people to the young kitten is one of the best ways to help the cat build confidence and become affectionate. In order to begin socializing cats to other people, invite a few calm, gentle visitors to your home and encourage them to handle the kitten. As always, put the cat back if she seems fearful or overwhelmed and ensure that everyone is being as gentle as possible.
Introduce New Environments
In order to help your kitten grow into a well-adjusted adult cat, expose her to different environments. Allow the cat opportunities to walk on grass, carpet, wood floors, concrete and gravel. While it is not advisable to let young kittens outside unsupervised, they will enjoy playing in a fenced back yard for short periods of time.
The Importance of Cat Socialization
Cats are intelligent creatures and socializing them early can help a young kitten grow into a happy, confident, well-adjusted adult cat. In addition to producing happy pets and companion animals, socialization also makes cats better able to fend for themselves and can assist in producing a cat that is more comfortable being alone and is better able to self-entertain.
When cats are properly socialized, they experience less behavioral issues than non-socialized cats, which makes for great cat-human relationships and happy cats.
Content reviewed by a veterinarian