Studies have shown that kittens who are handled by humans more turn out to be better behaved and socialized pets as adults. If you’ve recently become guardian of a litter of kittens, or just one, use these tips from a Reynoldsburg vet to socialize them properly.
Even newborn kittens can be handled—very gently, of course—in order to start the socialization process. If the kitten’s mother is around, make sure to defer to her; not all mother cats will like the presence of humans around her babies. If she’s wary of you, wait until she’s out of the room, eating or using the bathroom, until you pick up the newborns. Stroke them softly, handling them gently for a few moments, before putting them back.
For now, stick to very short handling sessions, as too much contact as a newborn can overstimulate them.
Three to Four Weeks
By now your kitten’s ears and eyes are completely functional, so they’re definitely taking in all the sensations of being held and handled. Continue to spend time with your kittens, petting and stroking them. They’ll become very comfortable with being touched and held. Still, don’t overwhelm them with handling. Just pet them for a few minutes at a time, a couple of times a day, before placing them back where they came from.
Up to Seven Weeks
As your kitten grows even more, continue handling them daily. You may now try providing playthings and toys, since your kitten’s hunting instincts are probably kicking in. You can even try letting your young kittens outdoors in an enclosed area for a short period of time. Of course, keep a watchful eye on them constantly if you let them out.
After Seven Weeks
As your kitten grows older, she should be blossoming into a well-socialized young cat. Continue to spend time with her daily. You may even try introducing new socialization experiences at this time, such as showing her the car, a travel crate, or even the vet’s office. Go slowly, and talk to your Reynoldsburg veterinarian for more advice on raising a well-socialized pet.