Socializing Your Kitten

My favorite seasons used to be centered around food and activities. I love autumn for the foliage and all the festivities. During the winter I love enjoying delicious Florida citrus and long hikes without the fear of snakes. After getting my first job in animal welfare, I discovered why summer is more exciting than just trips to the beach and holidays featuring hot dogs – IT’S KITTENS!!kittens-555822_1280

I should take a moment to interject how sad it is that so many animals have to live without loving homes and that many of these cats will live a life riddled with disease, parasites, and unnecessary hazards. It’s my hope that one day we’ll be able to control the population and stop the spread of disease.

Until then, kittens born to unaided cats come to us in droves during the summer. It’s absolutely the cutest time of year. There should be kitten season songs and a mystical mascot like Santa. Or Kitty Kringle! It’s that awesome.

My little Hobo Joe

My little Hobo Joe

It was easy to take on extra shifts at the shelter and clinic during these adorable months. In fact, it was during my first kitten season that I brought home our first cat, Hobo Joe. Unfortunately, he was taken from us by a sneaky case of feline leukemia. I’ll share his story and how you can help cats like him another time.

Since last month was Adopt a Cat month, I hope those of you with room in your homes and hearts were able to bring home a new cat. For those of you who found love in the eyes of an adult cat, stay tuned! I have some fun ideas for how you can entertain and mentally stimulate your cat. For now, since time is of the essence, this post is for those people who brought home a fuzzy little ball of mischief.

 

How to Socialize Your Kitten (1)

Socializing your kitten is an important part of raising a well-adjusted and friendly cat. Kittens have a critical window for socialization between three and nine weeks of age and will continue to be sensitive to learning new social cues through their first three months. During this time, proper handling by as many different people as possible is what you should be aiming for.

Be sure you know how to properly handle a kitten so that they don’t learn to avoid it. You want all their body weight supported. Use minimal restraint to do so. Despite the adorable videos and gifs of kittens on their backs playing with their humans, it’s best to avoid upside down positions. Once you have that down, you’ll be a kitten wrangling expert!

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Trout throwing a party!

Start socializing with other (human) adults one at a time. Use toys and treats to help your kitten see these interactions as positive and desirable. As your kitten becomes more confident, start introducing two or more people at varying noise levels. At this point, you can throw a
kitten-warming party. Who wouldn’t come to something like that?? I’ll be looking for my invitation to yours in my inbox.

Have your kids or the kids of your friends and family interact with your kitten. Children are a unique form of human and socializing your kitten with them is a good idea, especially if you plan
to have children or host friends and family with children.  Be sure to keep all interactions calm and Socialize your kitten with all kinds of creatures, including kids! safe for both the kitten and the kids. Unsure kittens can swipe and do some serious damage.

Whether or not you have or are planning to have other animals, it’s important to socialize your kitten with other creatures. If you already have animals, slowly introduce the kitten in a controlled environment. If you don’t have any but are considering adding to the family, ask a friend with friendly, vaccinated animals for a play date. Don’t allow your other pet(s) to get too excited because that can overwhelm your kitten and backtrack your socialization efforts.

It’s important to keep all socialization efforts positive. As soon as your kitten starts showing sign of unease like back arching or tail fluffing you should stop what you’re doing or remove them from the situation. Its also very important to never punish your kitten. Negative experiences and punishments can cause anxiety, which can weaken the bond between you and your kitten. It can also weaken their trust in people going forward.
I hope this was helpful, now show me your kitties in the comments below!

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