The Star-Herald

Socializing your new kitten

Although the temperatures may not feel “springish,” spring always brings on an overabundance of kittens.  Here at the shelter the “mother’s room” is no exception, and over the next month there will be kittens up for adoption. Getting to work early after adding one to your family will help to make your new little feline confident and secure.

The fact that young puppies need to be socialized is a well-known fact that is increasingly being recognized by trainers, veterinarians, behaviorists and pet owners alike. However, what you may not know is that kittens also need to be socialized, and they need to be socialized very early in their life.

Dr. Lorie Huston at www.petmed.com offered some advice regarding socialization.

The ideal window of opportunity for kittens closes even earlier than it does for puppies. For puppies, socialization is most easily accomplished before the age of 3-4 months of age. After that, though socialization is still possible, the process becomes a bit more difficult. For kittens, that ideal window of opportunity closes closer to 2-3 months of age.

What exactly is early socialization? Early socialization means exposing your kitten to as many different experiences, situations, people, pets and other objects as possible. This is the time when learning is easiest for your kitten. Your kitten will be able to adjust more easily to new things at this age than at an older age. Early socialization will help make certain your kitten grows into a confident and well-adjusted adult cat.

When socializing your kitten, you never want to push him past his limit. If he is frightened or suspicious of something, let him investigate at his own pace. Don’t force him into an encounter that scares him.

Part of early socialization means allowing your kitten to interact with other kittens and adult cats. It is at this age that kittens learn from their playmates what type of play behavior is acceptable. Your kitten’s feline playmates will play an important role in teaching him these important lessons.

The young age at which this socialization is occurring, however, also corresponds to the time when your kitten is most susceptible to infectious diseases. While socialization is critical, protecting your kitten from disease is also a necessity. As a result, it is important to choose feline playmates carefully.

Make sure that all adult cats and kittens that are allowed to interact with your kitten are healthy and free of disease.

All of your kitten’s feline friends should be current on core vaccinations, as appropriate for the cat’s age.

Be certain all cats and kittens that play with your kitten are free of both intestinal and external parasites (fleas, ticks, lice, etc.).

Stop by the Central Aroostook Humane Society and help socialize our many felines.  We are open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., closing for lunch from 12 to 12:30. You can also check us out on Facebook.  

Please be responsible: spay and neuter your pets.

Gloria J. Towle is the secretary and a member of the Board of Directors of the Central Aroostook Humane Society.

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