So isn’t it a good idea to do everything you can to give your babies a calm and happy environment? Kittens’ environment is a big factor in how they develop, including their birth family and humans around them. Socialization for kittens is very important, especially at particular times in their development, says Tony Buffington, DVM, professor at the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Good socialization helps to ensure your kittens grow up happy and learn fair play and social behaviour.
Socialization is the name of the game…
Unless you are rescuing kittens, [they] should stay with their mother for 12 weeks, says Pam Johnson-Bennett, author of Think Like a Cat. They learn through observation and experience. They learn litterbox behavior and food choices from observing their mother and they learn fair play and social behavior from their siblings.
The most sensitive socialization period for kittens is between 3 and 10 weeks of age. At this time, they need to learn from other kittens and their mother, but they also need to be around humans, so that we become part of their social circle.
If it’s possible, your new kitten should be with its birth family until 3 months of age, but it will be very positive for you to visit and handle it during that socialization period. If they live too far away for this to happen, the next best thing is for kittens to be part of a household where there’s plenty of contact with people, and happy activity going on.
In many ways, kittens are just like humans… their environment has a very big effect on them early in their life.
The worst possible thing to happen to a kitten is for it to be separated from its family and raised in isolation, especially if it’s in a barren cage and can’t move freely. Hard to believe that this could happen, and fortunately it doesn’t happen often, these days.
Good breeders have always understood the importance of the socialization process and created a warm and friendly environment for their kittens.
Text – Social Sweeties: Early, Positive Experiences, Marty Becker, DVM and Janice Willard, DVM
Images – Wikimedia Commons, Authors – Joachim Berger-Uelsberg und Dr. Gabriele Uelsberg (Abyssinians), Heikki Siltala (European Shorthairs)