When someone adopts a dog, they’re met with a multitude of different things they need to do. Sign them up for doggy daycare, crate train, potty train, get them used to their new environment, etc. The list goes on and on. The same can (often) not be said for cats. Most people would describe cats as independent, aloof, and sometimes uncaring. But that is usually said by people that don’t know cats, or don’t have a cat! If you work on socializing your cat, young or old, the benefits are endless.
Socializing your cat is a process. It involves exposing them to humans, cats and other furry friends. A cat who hasn’t been socialized may be shy or act out and display different behavior problems. However, a well-socialized cat can be friendly, fun, and a much loved member of the household.
So if you’re thinking about getting a new cat soon, or want to start socializing a current friend, here are some steps you can take to get started.
Make sure your feline companion is comfortable. Bring them inside and get them used to their surroundings, as change of scenery can be a bit stressful! During the first few days give them some time before trying to socialize too much, this means when you are spending time with them speak softly and move slowly to help soothe and comfort them. A great way to get them used to voices and sounds is to leave on a radio or TV as background noise. It is also important to positively reward your cat for good behavior.
Who doesn’t love food? Using food as an incentive encourages interaction and helps form positive associations. Stay in the room as they eat to associate you with food. This will help build trust. If they seem hesitant or scared, try feeding them their food on a spoon and over time moving the bowl closer to you until they are comfortable.
Playing with your cat also helps build trust. And if you have a kitten, hold them to help them get used to this human contact. Most cats enjoy being held close to your body to feel the warmth and your heartbeat. However, not all cats want to be held. Spending time with your cat will help it enjoy being in your presence and sitting next to you, even if it is not a fan of being cuddled.
If you have another feline friend at home it is important to not leave them alone with each other right away. You can spend quality time with them both together so they can become acclimated to each other and you. The goal is to make sure they are comfortable around all people and pets before leaving new cats alone together.
Be patient! Socializing your cat may take some time. And it is important to understand and be respectful of the process. The reward at the end is a new family member that will show you love and companionship for years to come.