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Home > Cats > How to Socialize a Kitten: 6 Vet-Approved Tips

How to Socialize a Kitten: 6 Vet-Approved Tips

Small cat / Kitten with australian shepherd

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Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Veterinarian, MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Socializing a kitten is necessary to make them comfortable with other people and animals. Otherwise, they may become fearful when they are older, leading to hiding, stress or even aggression. We all want our cats to be comfortable around others, and socialization helps make this happen.

There are many ways to socialize a cat, but it is often a bit more challenging socializing a kitten than a dog. Dogs are easy to take to puppy classes and visit a dog park with. Kittens? Not so much.

However, kittens do need socialization, and there are a few ways to go about this. Below, we’ll share our top tips for socializing a kitten.


The 6 Tips on How to Socialize a Kitten

1. Start as Early as Possible

You want kittens to become used to things as quickly as possible. While older cats can be socialized, it is much harder. Therefore, you should aim to start socializing right away. Ideally, you want to start between 2–7 weeks.

Before vaccinations, you should be cautious about going in public, though. Kittens will be susceptible to illnesses during this time. However, it is a great time to get them used to unfamiliar objects, safe animals, and people in general. For instance, having visitors to your house while the kitten is growing up can be a great way to socialize them safely when they are very little.

kitten gnawing fingers
Image By: lowpower225, Shutterstock

2. Use Positive Reinforcement

You want the kittens to see new people and situations as positive, so you should keep the socialization process as positive as possible. Use treats and play to make it fun for the kitten. Reward any sort of positive behavior.

3. Pet and Handle Them

Your kitten will need to be handled for all different reasons. While we probably want our cats to be cuddly, handling them is also important for medical reasons. Your cat should get used to their feet, tail, mouths, ears and belly being touched.

To do this, just pet them as you normally would. Pick them up and praise them. Offer positive reinforcement all along the way. Be sure to let others do this, too. You want your kitten to allow this kind of touch from anyone—not just you.

Kitten in the arms of a girl
Image By: OlgaBartashevich, Shutterstock

4. Introduce New Things Gradually

Don’t introduce tons of things at once. Instead, introduce one new thing at a time in the least scary form. For instance, bring out the vacuum cleaner in the room with the kitten and allow them to explore it as they want. Whenever the vacuum cleaner is a normal part of the environment, take it out of the room and turn it on. You can slowly increase the duration and noise until the kitten is completely comfortable.

5. Expose to Many Different Things

You should expose your kittens to as many different things as possible. This includes different people, animals, places, and sounds. The more you expose your kitten to, the better off they will be later.

If you take your kitten to regular vet checkups, they will get plenty of exposure to the vet. Plan on inviting many kinds of people over and letting your kitten get used to them, too.

Helping your feline get comfortable isn’t often that complicated. Simply take them to as many places as you can and involve them in your life.

Bloodhound and orange tabby kitten meeting each other
Image By: perezoo,Shutterstock

6. Be Safe

While introducing your cat to many different sights and sounds is important, it’s also vital to introduce them to other pets safely. Your kitten is tiny. You don’t want them getting injured by a larger dog, for instance. Furthermore, you should be cautious with vaccinations. Don’t let your kitten play with unvaccinated pets until they are vaccinated.

Once your kitten gets their first few rounds of shots, you can be less cautious. Until then, it’s important to consider their safety, too. If you have a trusted cat or dog to socialize them with, great. If not, you may have to wait until they are completely vaccinated.


Final Thoughts

Kittens need plenty of socialization from a young age. It helps them be comfortable in new situations with different people, which prevents them from becoming scared and even aggressive later on. Handle your cat frequently and involve them in your life.

The primary age to socialize kittens is between 3–7 or so weeks. Much of the socialization will occur before they leave their mother so it’s important to choose a kitten that has been properly socialized.

Be sure to introduce them to lots of other animals, sounds, and situations like driving in a car or traveling in a pet carrier. If you want your cat used to outside, train them on a harness and get them outside after they are vaccinated, as well.

Featured Image Credit: Stock-Asso, Shutterstock

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