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Cat Socialization 101

Cat Socialization 101

If you’ve just brought home your new cat, there are now millions of things for them to explore – from your furniture to your friends. Taking the steps to properly socialize them to their new home helps them have a stress-free experience. Common experiences like trips to the veterinarian, leaving them with a pet sitter, and introducing new members to the family will go much more smoothly if you take the time to properly socialize your cat. Here are a few ways to do just that.

The basics of cat socialization

To prepare your cat for socialization, follow these quick tips:

  • Invest in treats and toys. What better way to introduce your cat to their new world than with their favorite toys?
  • Start right away. The sooner you begin socialization, the better your cat will feel about their new life adventure.
  • Make socializing fun. Plenty of playtime (during and after your sessions) shows them you care.
  • Keep sessions short so you don’t lose their attention. Several brief sessions every day are more effective than one long one.

Introduce your cat to new sights and experiences

The more you can safely and appropriately expose your cat to early in their life, the better adjusted — and happier — they will be. Don’t do too much at once. Go slowly and provide lots of petting, cuddles, play, and treats. Introduce them to: 

  • Being pet and held
  • Getting brushed
  • Toys and interactive feeders
  • Scratching posts
  • Litter boxes
  • Visitors
  • Other pets in your home (when the time is right)
  • Cat carrier and, eventually, riding in the car

Get them used to common sounds

Cats can be easily startled by new noises. Try introducing these common noises in a gradual and controlled way — at lower volumes and farther distances with lots of positive reinforcement and treats in an environment where they feel safe. This way, your cat won’t be as stressed by them in their daily life.

  • Door knocks and doorbell rings (especially if you have frequent guests)
  • Noisy appliances, such as a hair dryer, blender, vacuum, or washing machine
  • Phones and alarm clocks (do them a favor and turn down the volume a few notches if possible)
  • Garbage and delivery trucks, buses, and motorcycles
  • Car horns and sirens
  • Boisterous family members
  • Thunder and fireworks

Once your cat’s all about your home, keep introducing them to new things. After all, socialization is a lifelong adventure.

ZPC-00175

Claire Walther, DVM

Claire Walther, DVM

Dr. Claire Walther was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio. She received her BS and DVM from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. While at Purdue University, she graduated with honors for her research. During her veterinary education, she acted as a clinical pathology technician and developed a keen understanding of clinical laboratory testing. She practiced outside Indianapolis in corporate (Banfield) and independent general practice before joining Zoetis in 2016. Dr. Walther is currently a Zoetis Petcare HQ Medical Lead.

The Walther family includes 3 dogs (Eelie, Eva, and Vanilla Bean) and two cats (Gambit and Linkin). It is the love she shares for her family, both human and animal, that fosters her drive to enhance our ability to detect, prevent and treat disease within the field of veterinary medicine.