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Kitten Socialization

Image00048Every kitten will eventually encounter another human as well as likely share a home with another pet. It will be important that you introduce your kitten to human adults and children; and if available to cat friendly dogs, as well as other cats and kittens. The most sensitive period for feline socialization ends at about 7 weeks of age (much shorter time than for puppies). Beyond that age, kittens may be less flexible. All human contact should be done gently and positively. The kitten needs to learn that human are fun and never scary. Cats that have no social contact with people by 7-9 weeks of age may never be able to develop a healthy social relationship with humans.

It will be beneficial to have each family member and each visitor to our home give your kitten a treat each time it is approached or handled. You should make certain it has the opportunity to meet and receive treats from a wide variety of people of all ages, appearances and both sexes during these early formative month. When being handled by children, do so with supervision so that you can ensure the kitten a happy experience. Have children sit down on floor or couch to play with the kitten and feed it treats. Gentle holding is ok, but I would discourage children from walking around with the kitten. Young children do not know how to gently hold a kitten; being roughly handled could mean that your cat is learning that kids are not so fun.

Daily hands on examinations can be practiced at home, so that your kitten learns that being touched is a good thing, especially when it accompanies treats. Avoid aversive treatment such as tapping on their nose, grabbing the scruff of the neck or spraying with water, this may only serve to make it more fearful of you. In general, any interactions with people that might make the kitten anxious should be avoided.

If you plan on taking your cat outside for supervised play or walks, it would also be wise to introduce them to a leash and collar.

Get your kitten acclimated to a pet carrier (for visits to the veterinarian or travel). Keep a pet carrier out all the time, make the carrier a great place to go by hiding toys and treats inside for your kitten to find. Since cats love high places, if possible, put the carrier on an elevated sturdy surface and take the door off. Put a cuddly blanket inside to invite a nice nap when they are ready. Cats like to hide boxes, make the carrier an inviting place to hide. If you can place near a window, where they can also sit on top to look outside and maybe take a nap too.

For more information on kitten socialization visit these websites:

http://www.vetstreet.com/cats/kitten-socialization
https://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/kitten-socialization