Pet behavior: When socialization goes wrong
Posted on January 14, 2011 under Pet Health & Safety
Posted by: H.R.
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With so much going on when new born kittens come home–introducing the kitten to the resident pets, figuring out the best time for spaying and neutering, and researching pet health insurance–it’s easy to let some things slide. Which is why my kitten turns into a scaredy cat around strangers.
When I brought my cute little Ragdoll cat home, I was ready to do everything by the book to ensure proper cat behavior. I methodically switched her from the food she was used to, to the food I wanted her to eat for optimum kitten health. I made sure she was exposed early to monsters like the vacuum cleaner and my boyfriend’s loud trombone. I even took her to the vet and drove her in the car a few times a week, to get her used to different experiences. But I forgot one thing: I never had friends or family come visit her.
What I ended up with is a cat who is cool as a cucumber while being poked and prodded at the vet’s office, but who thinks any friendly visitor to our home is terrifying.
Advice on socialization can vary. One book says kittens are most open to socialization from 4 to 14 weeks, while another expert points to the entire first six months. The most narrow recommendation I’ve seen for proper socialization is 7-9 weeks.
So as we continue to work on her issues, we do see glimmers of hope. Now 1 1/2, she will sometimes lay in a room with us and our visitors, so long as no one looks at her or tries to coax her near. Thankfully, one thing I can be rest assured about is that while my older cat turns into a terror at the vet, my Ragdoll stays true to her breed on the exam table, relaxed and calm. This combined with kitten insurance should equal a long, healthy life for my little scaredy cat.