Socialize your cat early and you’ll thank yourself later. Socialization exposes cats to people, animals, and other cats around your home. A cat that hasn’t been properly socialized may become timid, aggressive, or display problematic behaviours like scratching furniture. Socialization promotes an affectionate, loving, well-behaved feline friend, young or old.
Socializing a kitten
The best time to socialize a kitten is the first few weeks of its life, just before 3 months. Kittens are highly alert and sensitive during this developmental period, so try to avoid negativity and stick with positive encouragement and reinforcement. Keep these tips in mind: First and foremost, when bringing a kitten or a cat home, allow it to adjust to its new environment by giving it some space. Dedicate a room that contains all the things your kitten needs and allow the kitten to settle and calm down. After a day, start hanging out with your kitten without interacting with it, read a book or play on your phone, best while sitting on the floor. This way you will come across as more approachable to the kitten.
- Radio: Turn on the radio with some gentle music that will allow the kitten to relax.
- Petting: Petting a kitten is an easy way to socialize it. Petting is perceived positively and it soothes the kitten. By petting your kitten, you leave your scent behind, which the kitten then picks up as a means of establishing familiarity.
- Offer treats: This will encourage your kitten to come up to you, take the treats, and form a bond.
- Play with your kitten: Use toys that are attached by string to a stick. This way you can play with your kitten from a distance without overwhelming or scaring it.
Socializing an older cat
Socializing an older cat is a more deliberate process because the learning window has closed. Still, don’t give up hope! Even though an older cat may not be open to changing its habits, you can still make some headway by following these tips:
- Avoid crowds: While socializing an older cat with people, very small gatherings with one or two people are the best bet. If there is more than one person, you should start by introducing one person at a time, first, by having your cat in the same room with the new person and allowing that person to feed your cat some treats. Make sure to properly inform your friend of your cat’s expected behaviour so no one is surprised by the responses you may get.
- Feliway: Feliway is one way to calm your cat and promote social behaviour. Feliway is an imitation pheromone that cats emit through the glands on their faces when they are feeling calm and want to communicate that feeling to other cats in the area.
- Observation points: Allow your cat a spot somewhere high where it can observe what’s going on. When cats are wary of social interactions, they like to be above the action and maintain a distance before initiating contact.
Socialization takes longer with some cats than others, but with the help of this article and with a lot of patience and respect, you will without a doubt be able to win over your cats.
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