Socializing Your New Kitten
Photo provided by Friskies Explorer hammer.
If there’s a new kitten in your life, one often overlooked aspect of training has to do with socialization. Studies have shown that if kittens are exposed to various stimuli early on in life they’re more likely to adapt better to change as adults. If exposed to handling as kittens, they will tend to be more comfortable with unfamiliar visitors to the home later in life. If a kitten is isolated and not given the chance to be handled by a number of people and exposed to different stimuli and unique sights and sounds, she may remain frightened or reluctant to interact after she grows out of kittenhood.
Socializing a kitten is easy and even fun. The most basic way to start is to have visitors greet your kitten and gently pet and hold her. To help her get comfortable with unique sounds and sights, place her in a carrier and take her for car rides (this helps her get comfortable with travel). She’ll get used to the sound of the car, the different smells beyond her home and the sight of unfamiliar people. Take her when you go to the drive-thru at the bank. Take her to the veterinarian frequently just to get a treat and be petted by a staff member. This way she won’t always associate the veterinary clinic with a negative experience.
If someone if using the vacuum in another part of your house or the dishwasher is running, offer treats and/or playtime to your cat so she is distracted. This way, she’ll realize that those sounds aren’t so frightening.
Another great socialization tool is kitten kindergarten. Many veterinarians around the country offer kitten kindergarten classes these days. They’re usually a series or two or three classes where you bring your kitten in (there are age limitations and vaccination requirements) to be handled by others and to get used to the clinic environment while seeing other kittens around. The classes are also an opportunity to learn basic kitten care. Check with the veterinary clinics or shelters in your area to find out if a class is being offered. If your kitten is beyond the age limit you can still go to the class by yourself to pick up some good kitten training tips.
Do you have any tips on how you’ve socialized your kitten?