The Ins and Outs of Kitten Socialization
It doesn’t matter if you have two legs or four legs; socialization is absolutely crucial in one’s development. In the four leg example, there are various rules that must be followed to ensure your kitten takes to it properly and subsequently leads a much happier life.
For some cats, socialization will happen pretty naturally. However, on the most part, a degree of planning is required by the owner and this can speed up the process substantially as well.
We’ll now take a look at just why socialization is so important for cats and how you can take the next steps to make the process as seamless as possible.
The importance of socializing your cat
It would be fair to say that there are various types of socialization, and different requirements will be needed for different cats (more on that later, when we talk about your next steps).
For example, it goes without saying that a cat is going to socialize much differently with humans than other cats – yet in a lot of cases needs to learn how to do both.
We’ll now take a look at some of the different socialization scenarios that kittens have to learn.
Learning to socialize with other animals
This is one of those scenarios that isn’t necessarily going to apply to every cat out there. However, the nature of this animal means that it certainly might apply to the majority – definitely if you allow your feline friend to roam. If you also have other pets in the house – little else needs to be said here as well.
There’s a common misconception that cats and dogs don’t get on. Sure, it might happen in the cartoons, but don’t let this fool you. With proper socialization techniques, the two animals can get on together and we’ll now draw on a method to promote this. It goes by the name of “scent transfer” and must be done when both animals are completely relaxed.
Put the dog on a leash, and rub the kitten on the body of the dog. As the name may have given away, this is all about your dog becoming familiar with the scent of the kitten. You may need some treats to accelerate the process as well.
When two cats are about to reside in the same household, you might immediately notice some warning signs as you merge their life’s together. One of these involves feeding times, with hissing and growling being common sound effects which accompany this period.
To combat the above, and ultimately encourage socialization, place their feeding bowls at either side of a closed door. If hissing still persists, keep moving the bowls apart until this stops. Gradually, over time they can be moved closer until the door is no longer required. The aim is to make them comfortable with each other, to an extent where no barrier is required.
Learning to socialize with you
Suffice to say, this is something that you will all have to master. As there is likely to be only one “difficult” party, we’re going to bet that this is a much easier stage to get through as well.
Fortunately, complex techniques are out of the window. Instead, merely handling your kitten will help significantly and not only allow them to get used to you, but humans in general. This handling doesn’t have to be excessive either, you simply have to turn to a couple of minutes per day for it to be worthwhile.
Additionally, make sure you turn to their whole body, whilst “talking to it” is most definitely not silly and will help your pet recognize your voice more easily.
As well as the obvious socialization benefits, it’s also understood that kittens who are handled on a regular basis during their period of socialization accept completely new experiences much more quickly.
Socializing to “be nice”
In truth, this could have probably been applied to the other sections. However, it’s worth making a separate comment that the socialization period allows your cat to play nicely. Whether this is with you, other people or other animals – the socialization period can tackle this once and for all.
When we talk about playing nice, we’re talking about not scratching, biting or doing anything else untoward.
To get through this period, good toys are essential. Whenever your kitten starts to tune into this bad behavior, turn to the toys as a matter of urgency and divert all of their attention away.
The steps you need to take to socialize your cat properly
In terms of next steps, the main piece of advice is simple – you must start young. The older your cat gets, the less likely he or she is to learn new tricks. In truth, the same applies to all animals.
When we talk about starting early, we really do mean starting from a young age. It’s recommended to tap into the socialization process between two and seven weeks of age. From this point on, your cat will learn all about socializing until they reach about six months of age.
While we don’t necessarily want to add a scare-factor to this article, we should warn that if your cat doesn’t learn the right lessons during this period, they are unlikely to ever do so. Ultimately, you need to be subjecting them to as much human and animal socialization as possible, and turning to the advice we have noted through this guide.
It’s also worth mentioning that your cat doesn’t have to learn every form of socialization. As we’ve already said, some cats won’t have much interaction with other animals, and this means their socialization training can be adapted accordingly.
As well as the above, socializing doesn’t have to be linked to “living things”. For example, merely riding in the car can be a form of socialization and if you know your cat is going to be travelling for long periods during his or her life, then make sure you prepare them accordingly.