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Kitten behavior and socialization

How do I insure that my kitten is well socialized?
The ideal socialization period for cats is between 2 and 12 weeks of age. During that time, the kitten is very impressionable to social influences. If it has good experiences with men, women, children, dogs, other cats, etc., it is likely to accept them throughout life. If the experiences are absent or unpleasant, it may become apprehensive or adverse to any of them. Therefore, during the period of socialization, we encourage you to expose your cat to as many types of social events and influences as possible.  Please note that kittens will not be fully protected against infectious disease they are vaccinated for until the full kitten vaccination series is finished.  Therefore, interactions with other animals should be limited to those animals that you know to be current on vaccinations and healthy.  Avoid taking your cat to public areas where unvaccinated animals may be or have been.

How should I introduce my kitten to its new environment?
A cat is naturally inclined to investigate its new surroundings. It is suggested that the cat’s area of exploration be initially limited so that these natural tendencies do not create an unmanageable task. After confining the cat to one room for the first few days, you should slowly allow supervised access to other areas of the home.

How should I introduce my new kitten to my other cat?
Most kittens receive a hostile reception from other household pets, especially from another cat. The other cat usually sees no need for a kitten in the household and these feelings are reinforced if it perceives that special favoritism is being shown the kitten. The existing cat must not feel that it is necessary to compete for food or attention. The new kitten should have its own food and water bowl and it should not be permitted to eat from the other cat’s bowl. Although it is natural to spend time holding and cuddling the kitten, the existing cat will quickly sense that it is being neglected. The new kitten needs lots of love and attention, but the existing cat should not be slighted. In fact, the transition will be smoother if the existing cat is given more attention than normal.

The introduction period will usually last one to two weeks and will have one of three possible outcomes.

1. The existing cat will remain hostile to the kitten. Fighting may occasionally occur, especially if both try to eat out of the same bowl at the same time. This is an unlikely occurrence if competition for food and affection are minimized during the first few weeks.

2. The existing cat will only tolerate the kitten. Hostility will cease, but the existing cat will act as if the kitten is not present. This is more likely if the existing cat is very independent, has been an only cat for several years, or if marked competition occurred during the first few weeks. This relationship is likely to be permanent.

3. Bonding will occur between the existing cat and the kitten. They will play together, groom each other, and sleep near each other. This is more likely to occur if competition is minimized and if the existing cat has been lonely for companionship.