The emotion that accompanies the arrival of your cat home is a moment that you will remember in time. However, it also entails certain difficulties that if not addressed correctly will end up affecting the behavior and socialization of the animal.
Likewise, the genetic predisposition of the cat, the temperament of its parent or the age at which we start this complex socialization process will influence the result. Of course, you should not force your cat or become obsessed with the times, he will be the one who sets the rhythms and you must learn to love him as he is.
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Factors involved in the socialization of a cat
Apart from our work, there are certain factors inherent to the constitution and life trajectory of the cat that will condition its socialization. In this sense, the greater or less docility of his father or the feeding received by his mother during pregnancy and lactation will affect the temperament of your pet .
It has been found that these events are as decisive in the cat’s learning capacity, in its fears, in its aggressiveness and in the integration of its coexistence with humans as the stimulation itself received during the imprinting period.
From the second to the eighth week of life, what ethologists call the sensitive period of socialization or the period of imprinting takes place. During these weeks, the cat’s central nervous system matures and it is beneficial to expose it to as many stimuli and people as possible in order to keep fears and elusive behaviors away.
If you have the opportunity, the ideal is that you can caress and interact with your new pet while living with his mother, since this also teaches him certain limits, for example, to regulate his aggressiveness. Cats that have their first contacts with humans in this period show greater interest in living with them.
When is it advisable to start socializing?
Although weaning occurs at 4 weeks of age of the puppy, it is recommended that you do not separate it from its mother and siblings until 8 weeks . Once in his new home, you should reserve an exclusive space for him, according to his size and expand it as he grows.
It is not advisable that when you have just arrived home you let him explore it in its entirety. Due to its territorial and curious nature, it is preferable that it only have access to its space . You could run into unpleasant surprises for him that inhibited him from wanting to know more about the house.
This space should have loopholes but not hiding places or holes in which it could get trapped. It should be a quiet and safe area, not far from family contact. In it you must have everything you need to meet all your needs (feeder, drinker, sanitary tray, scraper, bed, toys and even carrier).
How to proceed to socialize a cat
The character of a cat is consolidated in a short time, so its socialization should preferably take place since it is a puppy. If your kitten is older, do not despair, with these guidelines, a lot of patience and all your love you will get the best out of him:
- Never address him directly, it is more effective to do so by going around the corner. It is advisable to keep a safe distance when you are with him. You should always wait for him to approach you and not the other way around.
- Do not force or handle itif it has not yet become familiar with your scent. You can deposit your objects in their area. When you perceive him calm next to you, you can stroke his head so that he recognizes your smell.
- Modulate your voicewhen you speak to him. Remember that high-pitched voices inspire more confidence. If you dare, you can meow softly to get closer to him.
- Pay close attention to their non-verbal communication. Their body movements are very revealing and learning to interpret them will make this task much easier for you. Blinking slowly and looking to the side is another interesting tactic for starting a peer-to-peer conversation.
- Use food as your ally. It will always be a productive excuse to encourage their approach, but don’t be left alone in the food supply. It must be able to associate you with a pleasant experience and for this, you must observe and be creative.
- If you lie downnear him, he will understand that you are not a threat to him. Likewise, when you extend your arm, do not stretch or raise your fingers, because cats identify it with a gesture of hostility.
- Do not rush to caress himif he is not able to stay by your side. Keep in mind that this is a process with stages that you will have to overcome. As I gain confidence in you, the distance between you will be less. That will be the moment to start the manipulation. Keep it short but assiduous. Take advantage of daily hygiene to implement it. You will satisfy a double objective, since these tasks are usually carried out by the mother and, in this way, you will strengthen your bond.
- Establish play routines. The feline needs to control everything and the routines favor it to better accept possible changes in the future. In turn, the game is decisive for their physical and mental development. Playing at the same time every day will make it possible for him to exercise, learn and get to know you better. Try to encourage hunting instinct in games. You will enjoy more.
- If there are other pets in the home, you should progressively guide their self-knowledge. In the first place, they must smell each other to be aware of their existence, then they must see each other and in a last stage they must be able to have direct contact. Use pheromone diffusers to help make this process successful.
- End all socialization sessionswith a prize or a reward. Your favorite snack or treat will be a useful resource that will act as positive reinforcement operant conditioning. In other words, it will help you associate that experience with a positive memory and repeat it.
In short, socializing a cat is a mutual learning that consists of small gestures and precautions that you must attend to to ensure that your pet enjoys your company more every day. Ready to put it into practice?