The entire animal world was shocked at the recent death of behavior expert Dr. Sophia Yin. Her message of gentle, low-stress handling and challenging conventional wisdom has changed the world for shelter pets and those in homes.
We at Maddie's InstituteSM want to keep her legacy alive, and will be featuring some of her valuable teachings in the weeks to come -- starting with this great set of tips on socializing kittens while they're in foster homes!
It's critical that kittens have good experiences in many new environments with many new people and animals so that, later in life, they don't consider the new environments, people, and animals to be stressors. Their prime time for socialization is between 3 weeks to 3 months of age. As soon as you get a kitten, the clock is ticking and it's a race to get enough socialization in so that you will have a well-adapted cat. Those who lack good socialization may hide from visitors, fear other pets, and adapt very slowly to new environments. And they can be fearful and aggressive at the veterinary hospital. They also become easily stressed by little changes in the environment. BTY: when cats get stressed they spray or urinate outside the box–which is a major cause of relinquishment and euthanasia.
Kittens should be taken in carriers to various kitten-safe locations such as just for a car ride, to a friend's house, or on errands to locations that are cat free (or with cats that have been vaccinated). For more information on kitten socialization and its importance read chapters 1, 18, 20 and watch the accompanying DVD of the online version of "Low Stress Handling, Restraint, and Behavior Modification of Dogs and Cats."
Read the rest here!