Anytime a group acquires a new member, a certain amount of socialisation is required. That holds true for both humans and animals. So if you’ll soon be adding a new kitten to the household, it will need to socialise with all family members, animal and human alike. You can take an active hand in getting your kitten socialised properly from the very beginning. And you’ll need to start early.
But the socialisation of your new kitten shouldn’t occur just by happenstance. You can take an active hand in overseeing and guiding the process. And by doing that, you’ll assure the best outcome possible for all involved.
According to an old saying, old dogs can’t learn new tricks. That’s not entirely true, for dogs or for cats. But there is some truth in the old saying that does apply to cats.
Socialisation lessons are most readily learned when a kitten is very young; about 2 to 7 weeks of age is prime socialisation time for a kitten. Socialisation can continue until the cat is about 6 months old.
If certain lessons aren’t learned during that period, they probably never will be. Kittens that aren’t exposed to humans during this time period, for example, will probably never become comfortable being around people.
GETTING TO KNOW YOU
Handling your kitten every day will help it become accustomed to humans. But it will pay other dividends as well. Kittens that are handled regularly during the socialisation period tend to be more accepting of new experiences later in life.
You can start very early. If you have access to the kitten before it’s weaned – and if mama cat doesn’t mind – you can pick the kitten up and stroke it gently for a minute or so.
Continue handling the kitten every day during the socialisation period. Don’t overdo it though; just a minute or two of petting a couple of times a day is plenty. When you’re petting the cat, get it accustomed to being touched on all parts of its body.
And don’t just touch your kitten; talk to it, too. The kitten will quickly become accustomed to your voice, and will even begin to pick up on words surprisingly early.
With time – and a bit of luck – they’ll become comfortable in the presence of each other. When they do finally meet without a barrier between them, have a treat on hand to feed each of them during that first face to face encounter.
ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY
Whether your household is brimming with kids and critters, or it’s just you and your new kitty, socialisation is important. It’s the key to getting off to a great start in your relationship with your cat – a relationship that’s likely to yield years of happiness.