Kitten socialization and play
Kitten socialization FAQs
While kittens are often seen to be independent, it’s important to guide their behavior early on in life, set simple rules, and encourage sociable habits. Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions about socialization and tips on how to get started.
- Removes the fear and nervousness of new experiences
- Makes them feel at home in their new surroundings
- Helps them to get used to other people, animals, and places
- Teaches them which behaviors are right and wrong
- Keeps them more curious and inquisitive in adult life
The basics of socialization
To be able to successfully socialize your kitten and introduce them to new sights, sounds, people, places, and smells, there are a number of things to take into consideration.
Respect their independence
Your kitten organizes its life around four key areas: The feeding area, the sleeping area, the litter box area, and the play area. When socializing your kitten, it's important that you respect these different territories and your kitten's day-to-day activities.
Reward good behavior
Letting your kitten know that they have done something right is an important part of the training process. Try using a snack, a healthy treat that you know they like, or giving them extra affection when they behave as requested. All of these will act as an incentive for your kitten to repeat good behavior.
Young kittens are fast learners, so it's a good idea to start socializing them as soon as they come into the home.
Make time to play
Playing is key to your kitten’s socialization, as it allows them to explore their surroundings, develop their physical capabilities, and form a strong bond with you.
Fill your kitten's life with new experiences
A kitten that's been in contact with different people, noises, and experiences from a very early age will be far more confident and comfortable. One of the key things here is ensuring that they are used to meeting and being pet and handled by new people.
That being said, if you do too much, the kitten might be overwhelmed and develop a negative association with the person or experience. So, be careful that your kitten always feels safe and pay close attention to their body language.
How to look after your kitten’s mental and physical well-being
- Stay healthy
- Learn new skills
- Keep mentally agile
- Explore their surroundings
- Avoid obesity
- Protect themselves against health problems later in life
- Build a strong bond with you
When your kitten is playing they are getting mental and physical stimulation and practicing natural behaviors. So, you should aim to play with your kitten two or three times a day for around 15 minutes each time.
Running and chasing games
The sight of a moving object immediately unleashes your kitten's desire to run and chase. Toys that will keep your kitten moving include:
- A mechanical or moving mouse
- A scrunched-up ball of tissue paper on the floor
- Wand toys
Kittens love to climb, which is why cat trees make a perfect perch for your pet. Here are some other ways to encourage your kitten to stretch themselves and climb:
- Placing a cushion on a high shelf that they can reach without injuring themselves
- Tall scratching post towers
Be aware, though, that kittens may not have perfect coordination and are more likely to fall. In the early months, supervision may be necessary.
Making mealtimes active
Cats hunt in the wild, and you can easily replicate this at home by choosing games and toys which release small amounts of food when your kitten carries out a required action. This makes your kitten more active during mealtimes and offers both mental and physical stimulation. Alternatively, you can hide their food and encourage them to track it down.
Signs that your kitten needs more exercise
If you’re wondering whether your kitten needs more exercise, here are a few of the tell-tale signs to look out for:
Excessive weight gain
Destructive or aggressive behavior
Disinterest in toys and games
Training your kitten
Training your kitten should start as early as possible to help avoid any unwanted behaviors and help them develop into confident, even-tempered adult cats.