How To Socialize A Cat
You may be a cat person, but that doesn't make your feline a person-cat. Learning how to socialize a cat can be a difficult process, but the experts are going to lend you a helping paw, right meow!
When thinking about how best to make you furry friend comfortable around people or other animals, there are many things to consider.
Age & Personality
Believe it or not, cats are social creatures. Their social structure differs from that of dogs, but they are social nonetheless. This matters because once you are able to understand your individual cat's behavior, you will become better at building trust with your pal.
There are a few variables when considering how to socialize a cat. To have the biggest impact on behavior, the socialization process must begin early in life. Much of a cat's ability to be social comes from her experiences within the first 9 weeks of her life. With most shelters, breeders, and pet stores having an adoption age minimum of 8 weeks old, it can be difficult to ensure your new kitten is getting the attention he or she needs.
Fidobiotics recommends adopting from a trusted shelter that focuses on socializing the kittens with both humans and companion animals. It will save you time and trouble when trying to connect with your new baby.
When adopting, many shelters will recommend adopting two already bonded kittens. This will help with the shelter-to-home adjustment period and will give yourself twice the kitty love!
Having two cats isn't necessarily a walk in the dog park. It will be more work in areas such as grooming, feeding, giving attention, and general pet expenses. On the other hand, a solitary cat can quite quickly become a bored cat. A bored cat can be a destructive cat. So if you're in love with that new couch, your dapper drapes, or want to double the nuzzles, consider adopting a pair!
The two most common feline personalities are the sociable and confident type and the shy and unfriendly type. This should be something to consider when you adopt. Try to get a feel for the feline. If you desire an active and engaging cat, the one sulking in a corner may not be the best fit for you. With that said, personality and behavior are not set in stone, especially if they are younger.
How To Socialize A Cat
Adopting a cat is one of the most exciting things you can do. With a little luck, your newest addition will be at ease and will fit in seamlessly. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Adopting older cats or felines with a history of abuse or neglect can be more difficult to successfully integrate into your home, but they are not impossible to deal with. If your older cat has not had a history of being picked up or petted, they may respond defensively by scratching or biting you. Don't take this personally, they are likely confused and afraid of what is happening.
Habituation and localization are two things to consider when integrating a cat into your home.
Habituation is the process of becoming comfortable with certain events, smells, sounds, and sights that may have causes your cat anxiety in the past. Localization is the process of a cat becoming comfortable with certain places. A cat will naturally find places he or she is more comfortable with and will deal with ongoing stimuli, however you can create a safe space and introduce her to things she may find scary. This little intentional nudge can do wonders for her mental well being.
Many view cats as independent creatures who don't need no (hu)man, but felines are surprisingly responsive to training. Some cats will let you rub their face and belly at your leisure, while others would do their best impersonation of Wolverine before letting you go near the undercarriage. Most cats are somewhere in-between, but more importantly are malleable to veer to either comfort level.
We suggest petting, holding, and handling your cat twice a day for 15-20 minutes. This will help communicate to your cat that while you may be a giant, you are a friendly giant full of pets and nuzzles.
This bonding will also give your cat a sense of stability and calm her down in her new home. Do your best to bring other people into the home and encourage them to handle your cat as well. The more instances of this, the better adjusted your feline will be.
If your cat is unsure, start slow. begin with the top of the head and the ears, giving soft pets. Once your 15-20 minute bonding session is over, give her a kitty treat and reinforce the moment with a "Good kitty!". Do this at the end of each session (don't forget the treat!) and move from the head to more personal areas such as the belly, chest, and feet.
If you find that your cat is not responding well to your attempts at bonding, remember that all cats are different. Some need to be wined and dined with a bit of catnip, a raw diet and some tasty cat supplements. Others just need time. The good news is the the vast majority of non-feral felines can be properly integrated into your household.
Whatever you do, we are just happy that your bringing a Meowser into a better situation. So have fun and nuzzle your socialized kitty once for us!