The experiences that a kitten has during the first seven weeks of his life strongly influence how he will behave as an adult cat.  This crucial period of a kitten’s development is known as the socialisation period.  Carefully exposing your kitten to a range of everyday sights and sounds during this time will help to ensure he grows up to be a friendly, confident and outgoing cat.

If a kitten isn’t socialised properly when young, this can result in behavioural problems when older, including nervousness, fear, hiding away and even aggression.

During their early weeks, kittens need to have positive experiences of the different aspects of normal household life. At this time, most kittens are still at home with their mother, so it’s up to the breeder to make sure the kittens are properly socialised up to this point.  Before taking on a kitten, you should always visit the home to check what they’ve experienced in their early environment.

Starting at the breeder’s house and continuing when you bring your kitten home, kittens need to be carefully exposed to sights and sounds such as vacuum cleaners, washing machines, doorbells, other friendly dogs and cats (once vaccinated), men and women of different ages and appearances, including young children under supervision.

All of these experiences should happen calmly and gradually, or they can have the opposite effect of creating fears and phobias.  For example, allow your kitten to see and hear various household appliances from a distance at first, such as from the next room.  If he remains calm, then allow your kitten to gradually approach and investigate in his own time.

If your kitten seems very nervous or afraid, calmly move him away from the item, or move the item further away. Try not to reassure your kitten as this will reward his fearful behaviour, inadvertently teaching him that it is the correct response.

Once your kitten has been vaccinated and neutered, he can also start to meet other pets and people outside the home.  Again, allow your pet to approach in his own time, and always under supervision.

The four golden rules of kitten socialisation are:

·        Build up new experiences gradually

·        The experiences must always be good ones

·        Reward your kitten with praise when he remains relaxed in new situations

·        Don’t introduce too many new experiences in one day.




In the Middle of a World...

"In the middle of a world that has always been a bit mad, the cat walks with confidence."

Roseanne Anderson