an introvert’s tips for kitten socialization
I received a text yesterday, was I available to help socialize a kitten? Of course!
While I’m an introvert, kitten socialization is important. A kitten who hides in the back of his cage will not be adopted quickly into a forever family. A kitten who doesn’t know how to play will find it difficult to win over her human. The kittens also need to be comfortable being handled into and out of cages as they interview potential peoples.
That’s a key part of fostering.
I’d like to introduce you to Miss Janey.
When I took her out of the cage at the humane society she immediately started to purr. She wasn’t very happy in the carrier on the drive home, but WQXR calmed her down (my kittens all seem to like classical music).
Her first day was mostly one of observation from a safe space. I sat and worked for a while not worrying if she’d come out. Fresh water and food are always available. She quickly warmed to the concept of chin scritches and began to cautiously investigate.
This morning she was eager to sit on my lap and offer kisses and purrs. We worked together this afternoon and she’s getting much more used to me. Next is getting her used to E and playing with different toys.
I wrote up some fostering tips earlier this year for Tom Bihn, see Penny’s Guide To Fostering Kittens.
Three tips for successful socialization
- Work with your kitten(s) every day. Yes, I work primarily from my home office, however I still make sure to schedule time throughout my day to work with my fosters. Sometimes it might only be for 5 minutes, at others it’s longer. While kittens are nocturnal it is important to get them used to being around people throughout the day.
- Take it slow. Don’t be frustrated and force them if they aren’t immediately purring and curling up on your lap! Janey surprised me today! Yesterday I sat with my laptop in the kitten room and did work without worrying about the kitten. It was important for her to become used to having me around. I also read emails out loud (as I had no phone calls to make) so she could be used to a voice.
- Keep things safe and clean. My housework often leaves much to be desired (I’ve been known to name dust bunnies), but I keep the kitten room clean. Every time I’m in there I change the water and litter gets scooped extra if there are known issues. I generally spot clean unless there’s a problem. There are multiple litter boxes that I can quickly swap if there’s an issue.
- How to Use Food to Socialize Kittens (ASPCA pro)
- Kitten behavior basics (The Humane Society of the United States)
- Tips for Socializing (Taming) Feral Kittens (Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’S Animals)
- How to Socialize a Kitten (Alley Cat Allies)