If you’ve brought a new kitten into your home recently, you’re probably well aware of all the kitten-proofing that needed to be done in order to keep kitty AND your home safe. You’re also spending lots of time getting to know this new family member, playing with him and enjoying the very funny antics that kittens are only too happy to display.
Kittenhood is a Time for Fun and Learning
As you spend time with your kitten, safe-guard the house, and make sure kitty has all necessary vaccinations during his health exams, you may not realize that there’s one other important job you need to do. You should gradually expose your new kitten to the various sights, sounds and smells that he will most likely encounter as he grows up. The more your kitten is gradually exposed to unfamiliar stimuli as a kitten, the more comfortable he’ll be with those sensory experiences as an adult.
Everyone wants a cat who will be friendly and comfortable when visitors come to the house and the way to help increase the odds of that happening will be to gently expose him while he’s a kitten, to a variety of people.
Help Your Kitten Become Comfortable Through Gradual Exposure
Your kitten may not have a problem being put into a carrier at this age but as an adult, he may resist the idea. Keep the carrier out and routinely feed your kitten in there, toss treats in there and create a cozy hideaway by lining the carrier with a soft towel. Periodically place your kitten in the carrier, carry him around the house and also take him for rides in the car. The earlier your kitten is exposed to car travel, the less anxiety the experience will cause when he must go on trips as an adult.
And speaking of trips, take frequent trips to the veterinary clinic just to help your kitten become comfortable with the sights, sounds and smells there. Periodic social visits, where a clinic staff member just holds or pets your kitten may help him develop more of a positive association with the environment. Additionally, if he gets used to hearing dogs bark or picking up the scents associated with the clinic, the less unsettling it will be as he matures.
Spend time helping your kitten become comfortable with the experiences he’ll encounter in his life: car travel, getting groomed, having his ears cleaned, teeth brushing, nail trims, unfamiliar environments, unfamiliar sounds, unfamiliar people in his home, and so on.
While kittenhood is a wonderful and fun time, it’s also a time for him to learn and process the experiences he has. The time you spend gradually introducing new things to your kitten, the greater the chances of him being more accepting of those experiences later in life and that will reduce everyone’s stress level.
Want More Information?
You can find lots of specific information on kitten behavior and training in the book Think Like a Cat. If you’re experiencing a cat behavior problem or cat training issue and would like a consultation with cat behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett, contact our office.
Pam Johnson-Bennett is the star of Psycho Kitty airing on Discovery UK. She is author of seven best-selling books on cat behavior including Think Like a Cat: how to raise a well-adjusted cat – not a sour puss. Think Like a Cat has become known as the cat bible. Pam is considered a pioneer in the field of cat behavior consulting. In addition to her television series and public speaking engagements, Pam owns Cat Behavior Associates, a private veterinarian-referred behavior company in Nashville, TN. Cat Behavior Associates offers private cat behavior appointments on a limited basis. Pam Johnson-Bennett is a Certified Cat Behavior Consultant.