Raising a social cat

Just as with children, kittens learn what they live. That’s why it’s very important to help shape your kitten’s temperament and personality by providing positive social experiences. Your kitten has been socialized through contact with its littermates, and mother, but through interaction with you your kitten forms a bond with humans.

  • Pet away! During the first few days the kitten is in your home, it’s best to provide a calm environment, free from sudden loud noises. Cuddling your kitten is encouraged. In fact, frequent petting and handling may actually benefit your kitten, making it more responsive to human touch as an adult cat. Studies have shown that early handling of kittens reduces their fear of humans and similarly, a lack of human contact in their early development will increase their fear and may result in aggression. Some studies suggest early handling may actually improve learning!

  • Mingle. As your kitten adjusts to life in your house, make sure to provide opportunities for her to meet as many people as possible, and make sure all interactions are positive. Supervise small children with your kitten, as children are often unaware when their handling becomes too rough. Positive encounters with people will help lessen your kittens’ fear of strangers and help make him confident with adult members of your household.

  • Be sensitive. Sensitivity is key when introducing your new kitten to other pets in the household. Be aware that your other pets may feel threatened by the newcomer. Start slowly, by confining the kitten to one room for a few days. That allows the other pets a chance to get used to the new smell. Limit the first meeting to a few minutes and gradually increase the time they all spend together. Supervise until they seem to have worked out a livable arrangement, which may take about a week. Ultimately, your new kitten will find her spot in the social order of your household.

Related pages:

Are you ready for a cat?

Keeping your cat amused

Dealing with an aggressive cat

Caring for your older cat