Adopting a new kitten is just like introducing a new member of the family. Indeed, they will be a member of your family, one that will require your attention and care, but also give you lots of affection, love and fun times. However, as with any human family member, it is important to teach your Siberian kitten good manners and solid people skills, so that they can comfortably coexist with people. But what exactly does it mean when it comes to kittens? How do you socialize a kitten?
Your new kitten needs to learn to not be afraid of people and to be friendly, to let people pet him or her, to know how to play and interact, and not to display aggression. All those are skills – they are not necessarily inborn, although some breeds of cats are bred specifically for the natural temperament. But even the most purebred kitten may display negative character traits if it wasn’t properly socialized.
This is why a good breeder will never separate the kittens from their mother until the kittens are at least three months old. This is because kittens go through some pretty crucial developmental stages when they are young. In the first 2 to 7 weeks, kittens learn to interact with their mother and siblings. They learn to run, jump and stalk. They also start learning to groom themselves. In 7 to 14 weeks, their coordination improves drastically, and so do their social skills. If you are purchasing your kitten from a reputable breeder, you may be sure the kittens will be well-mannered both due to inborn qualities and due to the social skills their mother teaches them. The kittens learn to interact with humans and perceive them as friends, not danger or object for aggression. They learn to play with each other as well as with humans. They learn hierarchy and subordination. A kitten that has never had human contact or hasn’t had a chance to socialize with older cats are often wild, unsociable and flighty. They may display fear or aggression. They can’t use the litterbox. You can see that socializing is pretty important. Hopefully, you will get a kitten that is already well-socialized. However, there are a few things you should do to contribute to the kittens’ further positive development.
Slowly introduce your kitten to their new environment.
Moving to a new home can be a very stressful experience for a young kitten. Being separated from its mom and siblings only adds to that. During their first day in the house, slowly and gradually introduce the kitten to the other family members. Don’t let others, especially children, to pick up the kitten abruptly. Don’t make loud noises. For example, children can easily get overly excited at the sight of a new kitten in the house and kids tend to make loud noises, even scream. Explain to them that this should never happen in presence of a kitten. It may frighten the kitten and have a permanent effect on how the kitten perceives people. In other words, your kitten may forever fear people, or children, or loud sounds.
Instead, allow only gentle handling in a quiet environment. This will ensure the kitten that people are safe, and that his new family members are friendly and can be trusted.
Regular play and activities with your new kitten.
Kittens love to play! You should too. Your kitten will need regular interaction and play, especially now that he is most likely the only cat in the house. Don’t leave your kitten alone and bored. Like with children, positive interaction, communication and play are beneficial for their development, and a great way to build a good relationship with your kitten. According to some studies, playing and interacting with your kitten in the first months of its life actually helps the kitten develop a larger brain! Not only you have fun playing, but you also get a smarter kitten 🙂
Play with them often, using various toys. With Siberian cats, you can even teach them tricks, such as fetching. Siberians absolutely love games and tricks, and it’s a great way to socialize them. Just be warned, your kitty will want to play just as much far into adulthood.
One important thing to teach them as you play with them is not to use their claws on human hands. Never let them attack your hands! Even though your tiny Siberian kitten seems harmless and it’s fun to watch them attack your hands, it will not be so much fun when they grow up. Your kitten needs to know that the only things it can claw are his toys, and never people’s hands, arms or legs.
Don’t punish your kitten
If they do anything you don’t want them to do, like scratch your furniture or attack your feet, you can raise your voice at them or spray them with water. But please, never yell at them or hit them. It will never help you get them to do what you want them to do. It will, however, scare your cat and cause them to lose trust for you, which may result in further bad behavior and some permanent behavioral changes that will negatively affect the kitten’s ability to coexist with people. For example, they might start displaying aggression to you or family members. They might become flighty and unsociable. They might start marking their territory, etc.
Keep it positive.
Try to make any interaction with your kitten positive for them. The goal is to help the kitten associate you in particular, and people in general, with good things. It’s really not so hard seeing how you are the one feeding them, petting them and playing with them. It will very likely happen naturally as long as you avoid yelling or punishing your kitten.
Expose your cat to new situations.
If you have guests, it’s a great opportunity to introduce your kitten to new people. Your kitten may be shy at first, but it will very likely be interested enough to come out and meet your visitors. Let them pet your kitten if they want to, or give him/her a treat. This will reinforce for your kitten that people are friendly and good things come from people.
During your kittens first days or weeks at home, you may notice that they are very afraid of noises and run away whenever they hear anything loud. That is absolutely normal and not indicative of poor temperament or bad social skills. This is just kitten’s natural self-preservation instincts kicking in. After all, your kitty is in a completely unfamiliar situation and it doesn’t yet know what to expect. When we first had our kitten, he would hide under the dresser for the most part of the first few weeks. He was very friendly but would flee whenever he heard anything loud or unfamiliar. Now he is the bravest and most curious cat and you can’t make him hide no matter how loud it gets. He’s not even scared of the vacuum anymore. He is a fully socialized cat who is very nice to be with.
I hope the advice in this article will help you socialize your kitten and he or she will be a wonderful addition to your family!
Siberian cat Guide