Socializing kittens is a fun process that can start practically as soon as they are born. The keys to success are to teach kittens to trust humans, how to play with humans and to acclimate to what may be the chaotic lifestyle of their human roommates.
Handle the kittens a few minutes each day until they are 4 to 6 weeks old. At this stage, you are teaching them to accept your scent and touch, but you do not want to upset the mother, so keep keep the sessions short and leave the little family alone to bond, sleep and eat most of the time.
Spend extended periods with each kitten alone after they're 4 to 6 weeks old. You can start holding them as much as they will tolerate it, but avoid forcing them to sit still. Combine your petting time with playtime. Use cat toys to interact with them. Try to schedule daily play sessions with your kittens. Their memories are short and they will need the reminder of how fun human company can be.
Move the kittens' pet carrier into the busier parts of the house during the day, so they can observe your daily routine. Once they are accustomed to the routine, you can let them out to join in, but in the beginning, the kittens will feel safer in a confined space.
Introduce the kittens to other people. You want them to friendly with more people than just you, so they will need to play with other people as well. This is especially important when socializing kittens to play with children, but make sure you supervise the interaction. Both the kittens and children must be taught to play nice.
Teach kittens good manners by stopping play when they bite or use their claws in more than light play. You can help the kittens (and yourself) by using baby nail clippers to keep their claws short. Not only does it keep them from hurting you or your visitors, they will learn to accept the trimming process, which will save you headaches when they get bigger.
- Remember that kittens are like toddlers. They do not want to be held unless it is their idea. During the socializing process, avoid forcing them to stay with you, and keep your voice and touch light. You want them to associate humans with pleasure.
- Cats and kittens are like people: some will always be friendlier than others. While one cat will prefer to purr in your lap every time you sit, another will always be more comfortable napping on the top branch of a cat tree. Accept your feline friends for who they are, and you can lead a happy life together.
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