To help ensure that adult cats are content in the company of humans and other animals, it is important for their owners to socialise them effectively in the early stages of their lives. The experiences kittens have in their first weeks play a major role in shaping their behaviour in the months and years that follow.
In the first eight to ten weeks of their lives, kittens go through a sensitive period when they are getting used to the things around them. This is referred to as the ‘socialisation period’. The things they experience during this phase are less likely to scare them as adults.
For this reason, owners should ensure their pets are introduced to people, animals and everyday sights and sounds at this stage.
If the creatures don’t benefit from positive experiences during this period, they can become nervous and this can lead to behaviour problems.
Often, young kittens stay with their mothers during the socialisation phase, meaning it is up to the breeder to make sure they are well socialised. When people are thinking of getting a kitten, they should check whether they have had a sufficiently broad range of experiences. This can have a big impact on what sort of pet they will make.
It’s also important for people to continue providing their kittens with plenty of positive experiences when they arrive at their new homes. To help their new pets settle in, owners can invest in special cat beds, toys, litter trays, good quality food and other products from a pet store.