It is very important for a cat to be properly prepared for its future life. The socialisation of a cat is an important part of this. The behaviour of a cat is influenced by several factors. A cat will naturally show a certain type of behaviour, but it is also possible to teach a cat a lot. By dealing with this in a good way, it is possible to socialise your cat into a house cat. How does this work exactly? You can read that in this article!
Understanding how socialisation works is crucial
To understand how socialisation works exactly, it is important to look at the origin of the cat. The domesticated cats as we know them today are descended from the African wild cat. This wild cat is very similar to the domesticated cat of today and can still be found on the dry Savannah. Just as with the wild cat, it is important for a domesticated cat to learn what is safe after its birth. The period in which this happens is also called the socialisation period.
The socialisation period
The first period of a kitten is very important for its further development. During this period, a kitten learns, as it were, what life is like. A kitten learns to recognise what is normal and safe and takes this with it into the rest of its life. A kitten experiences this period in its nest in the presence of the mother cat. All aspects of life that the cat encounters during this period, are taken along in the rest of its life.
There is a big chance that when a kitten is taken out of the nest and arrives at its new owner, it will first be scared of this new situation. Everything the kitten did not come into contact with during the socialisation period is new and therefore scary. A kitten does not yet know if the situation is safe. It is therefore important to get the kitten used to all kinds of things during the socialisation period, so that he will be able to deal with them more easily later on.
The socialisation period of a cat takes place when it is between 2 and 7 weeks old. A kitten’s brain is still developing during this phase. The things a kitten experiences and encounters during this period influence the development of its brain. As an owner, it is possible to influence this.
Did you know that cats by nature do not really have a need to be together with people? The need for human behaviour is therefore learned behaviour. For a domesticated cat, this is very desirable and it is therefore important that during the socialisation period sufficient attention is paid to this. By letting a kitten get used to human touches during these first weeks – preferably from several people – he will become much better socialised with people. It is almost impossible to socialise another cat after this one. Especially when a cat has reached sexual maturity. So start well on time!
How to take care of healthy kittens?
Kittens are very vulnerable, especially in the first period of their lives. To raise a kitten properly, it is important to take good care of its health before socialising it. It is important to be well aware of how feline infectious diseases can spread and to respond well to this. This can be done by creating a hygienic environment and by checking for infectious diseases. This is especially important when caring for a kitten that has been rescued from a certain environment.
For example, when a litter of kittens is rescued from a certain situation, it is important that the hands of the caretakers are clean when they take care of the kittens. By keeping their hands clean with antibacterial gel and by using protective materials they can prevent the spreading of infections. Also with a litter that just grows up with the mother cat in an environment, hygiene is important. Make sure the kittens grow up in a clean environment so that the development of infections and diseases is limited.
Tips for socialising
Before you start socialising a cat, it is important to spend some time with the mother cat. By doing this the mother cat gets used to you and she also knows better with whom she has to do. It is important that you interact with the mother cat in a positive way and show her that you can handle her kitten tenderly. This is very important as it is also important that the first experiences of kittens with humans are positive.
By making the first experiences during socialisation positive, a kitten learns that certain actions are not that scary at all and he will allow these actions sooner in the future. A negative experience can make a kitten shy of people and can lead to certain traumas. It is therefore important to build up socialisation in a calm way.
During the first few weeks it is for example possible to stroke a kitten on its belly. It is also possible to pick up a kitten briefly and bring it back to the mother cat and the litter. By extending these actions over time, the kitten gets more and more used to human contact. It is important that at least four people, including a man, a woman, children and older people, get used to human contact. This way a kitten can get used to all these types of people.
Research has shown that just 40 minutes a day of habituation has enormous positive effects on the friendliness of a cat towards people. In addition, getting used to being touched, for example to check the eyes, feet and tail, helps enormously with later visits to the vet.
How do you get a kitten used to a household?
Besides getting the kitten used to human touch, it is very important that the kitten gets used to the way things are done in a household. This is what the socialisation period is for as well. A kitten is being prepared for the rest of its life. This can be done by getting the kitten used to certain situations and attributes from a household during the socialisation period. By paying attention to the different senses of a kitten, it will not encounter any surprises in later life.
As far as feeling is concerned, you can provide a kitten with several surfaces. By providing a harder floor (tiles) and a softer floor (carpet) in the litter, a kitten can get used to different surfaces. It is also important that a kitten gets used to different smells. By getting a kitten used to the smell of a dog, for example, it will feel more familiar. You can easily do this by rubbing a clean cloth against a dog and put it next to the kitten.
Besides feeling and smelling, sight is another important sense for a kitten. By letting a kitten come into contact with different objects of different shapes and sizes, it will be less surprised when it meets its future owner. As far as hearing is concerned, it can be wise to play certain sounds that can be heard in households. There are special CDs available that play the sounds of washing machines and dishwashers, for example.
When it comes to food, it is important that a cat has a choice of several types of food in different flavours. In this way, he can get used to different food sources and you can prevent a cat from being picky about certain types of food later on. Moreover, a varied diet is very healthy for a cat.
Why is it important to socialise a cat?
You have already read a lot about the importance of socialising your cat. For the well-being of a cat, it is very important that sufficient attention is paid to socialisation. A cat that is well socialised is a lot more relaxed when it comes into contact with, for example, a strange person. A cat that is not well socialised will experience a lot more stress in such a situation. A non-socialised cat can become shy of people and because of the fear even get serious psychological complaints. For domesticated cats that live a lot among people, it is therefore very important that sufficient attention is paid to this.
Moreover, it helps if a cat is well used to human touch. For example, when you have to visit a vet because there is something wrong with your cat, it helps if it is more relaxed at certain touches.
By socialising a kitten sufficiently between its second and seventh week, you give it a better future. It is important to note that it does not stop after this first socialisation period. It is important that a cat gets enough positive experiences with human interaction throughout its life. Especially until a kitten leaves its nest between its 12th and 14th week.
Extra tips for socialising a cat
Socialising a cat properly is quite a process. This article has tried to give a good impression of it. Do you have any experience with socialising a cat and any tips & tricks for other cat owners? If so, please share it by leaving a comment on this article!