Socialising Kittens during COVID-19
Why socialisation is so important for your cat
The experiences your kitten has when they’re young play a huge part in the way they’ll behave when they’re grown up. Positive experiences will help your kitten become a friendly, well-adjusted adult cat.
Sadly, kittens that don’t have these positive experiences can become nervous cats and this can cause ongoing problems with their behaviour.
Early socialisation: before you bring your kitten home
Early socialisation will usually happen when your kitten is with the breeder or at a rescue centre. Before you bring your kitten home, check to see which sights, sounds and experiences they’ve had and what you’ll need to introduce to them when you bring them home. We recommend starting socialisation immediately but Ideally, your kitten will have:
Mixed with other people and pets.
Seen every day sights.
Heard normal household sounds at the breeder’s home, like the washing machine, hoover, TV etc.
Bringing your kitten home
Help your kitten feel at home by surrounding it with as many positive situations as possible and make sure you have some familiar surroundings to what they have been used to. We recommend the use of Feliway as well as the listed suggestions above. They are likely to be a bit nervous at first so be patient and give them time to settle in. Gradually introduce new experiences – three new things a day will be plenty and won’t overwhelm your new friend.
Your kitten will need to get used to the things around them that they will experience regularly like meeting new people, getting calmly into a cat box or harness, or hearing the hoover.
Cat breeders and rescue centres should make sure kittens are exposed to new sights and sounds and rewarded for calm behaviour while they are still with their mother. Kitten owners can then continue this at home. Be sure your kitten is always safe and give them a treat when they show curiosity or calm behaviour.
Keep exposure to new things short and make sure you remove the kitten from the new sound or sight if they become frightened.
If your kitten seems fearful or anxious, take the training at a slower pace. Always reward good behaviour and ignore unwanted behaviours. Being consistent will help teach your kitten which behaviours get them attention and treats, and which behaviours will not get a reward.
At the moment you may well be home more often than normal due to COVID-19, or indeed out of the house more. It is important that you try and get your kitten used to what will become a normal routine, so if you are home more, do not make any more of a fuss of your kitten than what you would normally be able to. This may be tough to do but it is vital in how the kitten will become a cat and how it see’s normal life!