Most people (or at least most of the people in the circles in which I travel) know that socializing a puppy in the early weeks makes a huge difference in the kind of dog the little one will be someday. Early socialization — meeting lots of people, new places, new challenges — can help to produce a confident and well-adjusted adult dog.
Fewer people (again, in the circles in which I travel) think about that as much with kittens, but it is no less important. Usually I am able to bring different people in to meet a litter, but the quarantine put some pretty severe limits on that. I have worked with them with Gracie, which is both a new experience and for some, a challenge, and they’ve done very well with that.
Today, however, we stepped it up a few notches and took the kittens (sans momma cat) to the training center where Gracie trains, and they met several new people, experienced a whole different space, and got challenged with some new toys.
Even before they got there, however, the challenge was to transport them without anyone throwing up this time. They had a bad experience with the carriers last time, and it would be a huge help for their future pet parents if the carrier wasn’t a big obstacle. So I left the carriers in the foster room for awhile, with cozy blankets inside and let the kittens form a new relationship with them. They had fun exploring inside and out, climbing on them, and just generally getting to know the carriers, and by the time they got packaged up and transported a half hour to the training center, they were just fine (as in no vomit this time) and they weren’t, as a friend says, “singing the song of their people” either. Points for the trainer (me) and the kittens both!
At the training center, they came out of their crates pretty quickly…and headed under the nearest chair. But it was only a couple minutes before they came out and started exploring. I’d brought toys, and Bertie and Bebe in particular can not resist going after the “prey.”
They got introduced to some wind up toys, which were totally new to them. One of them was a bit large and active, and they weren’t at all sure about it. But the other, more their size, was of some interest. There were all sorts of areas to explore, go behind, go under, and especially jump up on, and a good time was had by all. And I even had an assist from a friend who is working on becoming a vet tech, and we got some hind leg nails trimmed without any trauma.
Lots of cuddles for everyone as well, when we could stop them from playing for a moment.
So socialization 101 was a huge success. The kittens showed they could manage a new space and new people and new toys, and they had a blast in the process. Once home, it was a quick snack, and then they were out cold.
They are an extraordinary bunch, so much fun. They are going to make some people and/or families very happy in another 6 week-ish, and I think we’ll miss the thunder of their little feet in the foster room for quite a while.