Socializing your kitten is just as important as socializing a puppy, albeit in a different way. Puppies need to be socialized at an early age so they develop into well rounded canine citizens, able to accompany their owners out and about on occasion, and to allow friends and family into their ‘territory’ without concern.
Cats need to be socialized as kittens to help them grow up into well adjusted and happy adults. Cats who are not socialized at a young age often develop fears of unnecessary things later in life. Ideally, you will socialize your kitten with other cats, dogs, and people of all ages. It’s also important to handle your kitten and speak to them often so they learn to respond to the sound of your voice.
Kittens are initially socialized from their mother cat, and their litter mates as well. Learning the in’s and outs of the world from Mom, as well as bite and claw inhibitions through play with their siblings. It’s an ideal situation when litters can stay with the mom through 12 weeks of age to really absorb all she has to share with them. Its then our jobs as new PetParents to teach our kittens and socialize them from there.
During their kitten days, it’s important to try to expose your kitten to all the sights and smells she’s likely to encounter as an adult. Some ideas to expand your new kittens world include:
- Riding in a carrier in the car
- Taking a trip to a pet friendly pet store
- Visiting a veterinarian
- Visiting a groomer
- Learning that visitors come to the home
- Playing with other cats/kittens
- Playing with a dog
- Exposure to all sorts of new toys
- Providing a window seat so your kitten can watch out the window
- A backyard adventure wearing a leash and harness