It’s always exciting to bring home a new kitten. Not only are they incredibly cute, kittens are also full of personality and charm. Of course, you want your cute little kitten to relate well with you and the people you care about.
Your kitten needs early socialization to become a good pet. Socialization helps a kitten build confidence and trust and makes him feel comfortable in his home environment. Socializing a kitten requires a lot of time and patience, but the effort will be worth it in the end.
Here are some proven methods to use to help you socialize your kitten so he’ll grow up to be a friendly cat with plenty of confidence around people. We’ve numbered the methods because kitten socialization should be done in steps, starting with making your kitten feel safe and comfortable.
1. Designate a Safe Area for Your Kitten
To begin socializing your new kitten, decide what space you want to provide for him that will make him feel safe and comfortable. A good idea is to use a portable kennel and place it up and off the floor. Make the inside of the kennel comfortable by placing a fluffy pad on the floor. Put a couple of small cat toys inside the kennel your kitten can play with if he wants.
Once the kennel is in place and the inside is warm and inviting, place your kitten inside while talking quietly with a reassuring voice. Leave the kennel door open so your kitten can come and go as he pleases.
2. Use Food as a Socialization Tool
When you give your kitten food, it will encourage him to interact with you and form a positive impression of you. When feeding your kitten a special treat like wet cat food, sit down on the floor and place the dish on your lap so your kitten will have to come close to you to get the food. While your kitten is eating, pet him gently and speak to him in a low assuring voice.
Each day, take the time to feed your kitten something special. This could be anything from tiny bits of chicken or liver to flavored cat treats. Be careful not to give your kitten food on your fingers because his little teeth are sharp and a bite can hurt!
3. Spend Time Playing with Your Kitten Each Day
Playing with your kitten is one of the best ways to socialize him. That’s why you should spend at least one hour every day playing together with your kitten. You can play using a cat toy, a cardboard box, or anything your kitten is curious about.
During playtime, pet your kitten when he is close to you and speak using a calm reassuring voice. When playtime is over, hold your kitten, if possible, while petting him all over his body. Play creates a strong bond between you and your kitten and teaches him to be social.
4. Introduce Your Kitten to New People & Pets
After you’ve had your kitten for a day or two, introduce him to new people and even other pets. Take it nice and slow and don’t scare your kitten. Pick your kitten up when introducing him to new friends and allow the other people to gently pet him. If the people who are visiting are willing, ask them to hold your kitten to get him used to new people.
When introducing your kitten to other pets like a dog or another cat, take it cool. Conduct these introductions in a quiet room one animal at a time. Your kitten will be curious about new animals he meets and may even try playing with one right off the bat. Just use caution and common sense when introducing your little furball to other animals.
5. Expose Your Kitten to Different Experiences
Once your kitten feels safe and comfortable around you, your family and friends, and other pets, expose him to new experiences. This may include hearing the vacuum cleaner or taking your kitten for rides in the car while he’s inside a portable kennel.
Every new experience should be positive and nothing that can trigger stress or anxiety in your kitten. Take it nice and slow and give your kitten plenty of space. As your kitten grows older, he’ll become accustomed to hearing and experiencing different sounds and things.
6. Don’t Leave Your Kitten Home Alone for Long Periods
You can leave your young kitten alone for short periods. However, kittens younger than four months shouldn’t be left alone longer than two hours.
Once your kitten is over four months of age, he can handle being alone for about five hours. For those times you plan on being away for a few hours, be sure to leave food and water out for your kitten and some of his favorite toys to keep him busy.
When you return home, greet your kitten right away and take the time to cuddle and love him up! By this point in the socialization process, your kitten has learned to love and trust you, and that’s wonderful!
Your Kitten’s Early Life
Before you brought your kitten home, he was interacting with his mother and other kittens in the litter as well as some people. This early interaction with littermates and humans gives a kitten a good start in life and makes socializing easier.
Kittens that are taken away from their mothers too soon and those not having much human contact are not easy kittens to handle or socialize. This is why it’s not recommended to choose a kitten that hasn’t had much human contact or one that was taken from its mother too early.
You likely got your kitten when he was between eight and 12 weeks of age. It’s also likely that your kitten had ample contact with at least one person regularly, which is great. This means that it won’t be hard for you to reinforce the good work someone else started so your kitten grows into a friendly, happy, and confident cat.
Featured Image Credit: Piqsels