Kittens are cute. We think they are really, really cute! Bundles of fur that race through the house chasing anything that moves, practicing their natural predatory behavior on your feet and head, and climbing up the curtains and furniture. Antics we find adorable when they are tiny but not so adorable when they are adults. It is our hope that through our website and Kitten Central we can enlighten you about how you can teach your new kitten to live with crazy humans, and enlighten you on how cats learn, their natural instinctual behaviors and you can best provide an environment that will be happier for your fast growing kitten but for you.
These bundles of energy do not come with a owner's manual or with an innate knowledge of human behaviors and expectations. This means that we need to arm ourselves with knowledge of normal kitten development and normal cat behavior. Through this knowledge we will be able to nurture and teach our new kitten how we would like him to behave as an adult. This early period is critical in helping your kitten become a great family member.
Influences on behavioral development for kittens (and puppies) start even before they are born. If the pregnant female was living in a constant state of fear (feral cats or possibly multi-cat households, or cats living in catteries), the kittens often tend to be more reactive (less social) or emotional later in life. Emotional females tend to give birth to more emotional offspring. Knowledge of your kittens pre-natal background can help you prepare for potential hurdles your kitten may need to overcome.
After birth the neonatal period (when your kitten is with it's mother) is a short but has a tremendous learning influence on your kitten. During this time, when it is mostly just eating and sleeping it is also receiving nurturing from mom and learning to live with other cats (its littermates). Their mother is teaching them how to groom themselves (by watching mom), how to be a good mom, how to play with others, how to read cat body language. During this time if humans in it's life spend time handle the kitten softly and quietly, with gentle stroking, it learns to be less fearful to humans. Kittens handled for five minutes daily from birth to 5 weeks of age are less fearful than non-handled kittens. This knowledge may help you understand why a stray rescued kitten at less than 8 weeks of age tend to be more difficult to handle as adults. An orphan bottle fed kitten or kittens taken away from it's mother too early (less than 12 weeks of age) may have more aggressive behavior because it was not with other kittens/cats during this people to learn how to curb some of these behaviors when older.
Socialization begins as early as 4 weeks of age and continues through 8-12 weeks of age (much smaller window of time than puppies). Your kitten starts exhibiting predatory behavior around one month of age; pouncing on it's littermates and mother, stalking, running, biting. Defensive reactions to large prey and fearful situations by hissing, standing tall with tail erect and puffed out is also seen during this time. Most of these behaviors start as play but are crucial precursors of necessary skills they need as adults. As an owner you will need to provide your kitten with a variety of prey-like toys for them to attack and catch.
Kittens that are not properly socialized during these critical time periods are more likely to be fearful, defensive and potentially aggressive. We want your new kitten to get off to a great start. Please take the time to read through our continued pages on kitten behavioral training. Some of the most common troubles that many of our clients express about their new bundles of joy are: biting, clawing and letterbox training. This is why we offer specific information about these subjects at your kittens early age. If you have any questions about your new kitten, and you cannot find the information that you need here on our website, please feel free to contact us.