How Can I Socialize My Kitten or Cat?
Some cats love to be around people and other pets, while others prefer to be left alone. No matter your cat’s temperament, you can take steps to make socialization a positive experience. Keep reading to learn how to introduce a new cat or kitten into your home or to other four-legged family members.
How to introduce a new kitten or cat
If you already have a cat, introducing a new kitten or cat into your home takes some preparation and planning.
You can help your cat accept a new cat or kitten when you:
- Introduce cats slowly, over a period of weeks
- Allow them both to smell and hear each other
- Try a face-to-face
- Provide separate areas for retreat
How to socialize a kitten
Start early. Very early. The first few weeks of your kitten’s life will set the stage for how she will interact with other cats and people in the future.
Here are some tips on how to socialize a kitten:
- Start young: Weeks two to seven is a critical socialization period
- Encourage touch: Being gently handled helps kittens acclimate to people
- Initiate play: Chasing a toy is a positive way to interact
- Provide praise: Rewards can be treats or one-on-one time
Socializing your kitten doesn’t end at adulthood
It’s important to remember that not all kittens get the socializing they need at an early age. In fact, grown cats keep on learning and forming positive (and negative) associations with people, other pets and places. No matter if you’ve had your cat for her whole life, or you just got her, it’s important to help her socialize.
How to continue cat socialization
Cats have unique personalities, with some being more sociable than others. However, even if your cat prefers alone time, she can still have a strong bond and positive interactions with you. Cats sense and avoid stress, so the best thing you can do is provide a safe environment that helps your cat socialize more. Some things you can do to make your cat feel safe are:
- Allow interactions to happen naturally
- Give your cat space to withdraw
- Avoid startling your cat or kitten
How to prepare your family for a new kitten or cat
You may be excited to introduce your cat to your family, but it is important that children are shown how to interact properly with cats. First, explain that kittens and cats have feelings, which should help children know how to read a cat’s emotions. Teach children what to look for when a cat is scared, happy, mad or sleepy. Afterwards, explain how being calm and gentle can make a cat feel safe and happy at home. Read our article on how to understand your cat to learn more about cat body language.