The Kitten Socialization Process

Did you know that kittens who are regularly and appropriately handled as youngsters grow up into the most well-behaved and properly socialized adults? Below, a Chesapeake veterinarian advises you on socializing your kitten at each stage of their early life.

Brand-New Kittens

Newborns can be handled quite early, beginning the animal-human socialization process even a few days after birth. Try picking up newborns—very gently, of course!—and stroking them softly. Keep these sessions fairly quick for now, as too much contact can actually backfire! Of course, if the mother cat is around and doesn’t like you being there, don’t push it. Wait until the kittens are a little older and the mother isn’t as protective.

Three to Four Weeks

By now, your kitten’s ears and eyes have developed, allowing them to take in much more of the sensation of human contact. Keep handling sessions regular but short at this stage—try picking them up and petting them gently for a few minutes a few times a day.

Seven Weeks

Around seven weeks of age, your kitten is probably becoming quite playful. In fact, her early hunting and stalking instincts are kicking into gear and she’ll probably start going after things and attacking them. Provide some toys at this stage of life to satisfy your kittens’ desires, but keep up human contact so they don’t think of your hands as something to attack!

Seven Weeks and Up

If they’ve been provided with a good amount of proper socialization thus far, your kittens should be developing into well-adjusted young adults by the time they’re older than seven weeks. Of course, they’ll still be mischievous as ever, but they shouldn’t be fearful or aggressive toward humans by this stage of life. Soon, you should be able to try other socialization techniques, like introducing your kittens to other gentle pets or cautiously going outdoors.

Feeling a little intimidated by your young kitten’s socialization needs? Don’t fear—your Chesapeake veterinary professional is here to help! Call the clinic today with any questions about your cat’s socialization to humans or overall health.

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