How to socialize your kitten

Kitten on cat tree

Strange smells, new people, unusual sounds—there is a plethora of things that kittens need to get used to when they are welcomed to a new home. Thankfully, socialization helps kittens become accustomed to their new environment.

When you welcome a kitten to your home, it’s a memorable and happy moment for the both of you. With that being said, the degree to which your kitten was socialized impacts how they react to the new environment and the people and animals they encounter. In this article, Letsgetpet will go over what socialization means and provide you helpful tips to socialize your kitten correctly.

What does it mean to “socialize” a kitten?

Kitten socialization refers to a kitten learning about life, its different stimuli, and how to live harmoniously in a group environment. It means introducing your cat to different types of situations to teach them to adapt and adopt certain behavioral requirements.

Most importantly, you need to teach your kitten to trust you and understand that other people and animals are not a danger for them. If socialized properly, your kitten will learn that children and household appliances make a lot of noise. They will learn about cat carriers, eating areas, sleeping areas, and their limits when it comes to playing. Ideally, your kitten should learn these things during the first few months of their life.

The earlier your kitten comes into contact with other people, animals, sounds, and smells, the more at peace they will be when faced with similar situations in the future. A positive first encounter is a good start when it comes to socializing your cat correctly.

Why is it important to socialize your kitten?

The majority of cats that were not socialized correctly develop behavioral issues throughout their life. In addition, they can become fearful, anxious, nervous, or even aggressive. While some behaviors are inoffensive, others are more difficult to manage, which can affect their coexistence with humans.

Ideally, we don’t want our kittens ruin our furniture, scratch the walls, meow constantly, or urinate on the carpet. Furthermore, we don’t want our kittens to hurt our friends by scratching them with their claws or biting them. If you socialize your cat well from a young age, you’ll be able to live harmoniously together. It’s incredibly beneficial for both you and your cat.

Socializing your cat will allow them to live a more peaceful, balanced, and pleasant life.

The period of socialization

The various phases of socialization should be respected to help your kitten live a happy life. With that being said, different approaches can be adopted depending on the personal situation of your cat.

Lay the groundwork during the first few months

Different factors can explain why a cat becomes affectionate, independent, or fearful. For example, breed and genes of your cat can have an effect on this. However, their environment and their experiences also play a huge role. The first 3 months of their life are the most decisive. Therefore, you should start to socialize your kitten between the 4th and 12th week of their life.

The earlier you start, the more you are likely to have positive results. This is because their experiences during this period are firmly rooted in their mind and influence their adult life. In the best case, kittens spend time under their mother’s care and receive a great deal of attention. Just like with humans, the mother plays an important role in the socialization of their offspring.

The role of the kitten’s mother

Animal specialists recommend leaving a kitten close to their mother until they are 3 months old. Just like for humans, the mother is the one the kittens look for during their first few weeks. Kittens observes the behavior of their mother towards other animals and humans and mimic their actions and behavior.

If the mother is trusting and lets herself be caressed, the kittens will in turn trust others more quickly. Additionally, they might try to get close to you more often. Furthermore, if the kitten has siblings, they will learn with their mother’s help to what degree they can play with them. Their mother will let them play together, but will intervene to establish limits when their kittens scratch or bite too hard.

Kittens with mother cat learn to socialize
Mother cats are able to teach their kittens how to play safely and interact with humans.

The role of the breeder

The proper socialization of the mother is crucial to a kitten’s successful socialization. When you adopt a kitten from a breeder, it’s important to observe the behavior of the mother during the visit. If they are fearful or aggressive, it’s likely that your kitten has adopted the same behavior.

On the other hand, if she lets herself be caressed, you can expect that her offspring were raised with a lot of love. If the mother of the kitten that you are trying to socialize lives with you, you need to treat her kindly so that your kitten follows her behavior.

How do I socialize my kitten after adopting them?

Separating a kitten from its mother and having them integrate themself into a new environment is a huge ordeal for a kitten. However, if they were well-socialized by their mother and the breeder, it’ll be easy for them to integrate into this new world. They’ll be able to quickly get used to the new environment, people, odors, and noises. While they should’ve been socialized from their first fews day, you can also make your contribution to their socialization.

As the new owner, you will need to help your cat start their new life. This means gaining their trust and presenting them with their new home. Make sure to give them time and space and always act with love, without overdoing it or rushing them. They will open up on their own with time and become more affectionate as they get older.

Helpful tips to socialize your kitten correctly

When it comes to socializing your kitten, we recommend doing the following:

  • provide your kitten with a calm area to take refuge,
  • give your cat the time they need,
  • accompany them while they are discovering new things,
  • put yourself at their level,
  • show calmness and patience.

It’s important for your cat to be able to get away and find refuge to relax and assimilate their experiences. Before your cat moves in, you need to think about a suitable area for this. A comfortable cat bed with a soft blanket in a peaceful corner of the house and a cat tree is perfect. You should also be careful not to intimidate your kitten or force them to do anything.

Respect the fact that they need peace and tranquility. They might prefer to stay a bit away during the first few days at your place. If they do this, go through your daily activities as normal and show them that you are available at all times. For your kitten to relax and overcome their natural distrust, let them discover new things like animals, people, cars, household appliances, etc.

With that being said, avoid doing too much and let them take in each new discovery. To help your kitten become less shy, get down to their level, taking on a less threatening demeanor. This will allow them to become less fearful when around you. When they get close to you, let them sniff your hand and then pet their back and their cheeks with slow movements. Be patient because this can take some time. If you do not stress your kitten when they are hiding or being naughty, they will gravitate towards you.