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.

Bertie, Babs, and Breezy resting on the scale

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.

15 thoughts on “The Fosters: Socialization 101

  1. YAY for a successful outing in different surroundings! They are so adorable and I am sure they will have “happily ever afters” thanks to you……….

    Hugs, Pam

    1. Thanks, Katrin. I’m really pleased that they show so much flexibility and confidence despite the obstacles the quarantine placed on us.

  2. “singing the song of their people”…I love that. One of my cats did that they entire way to the vet. As I sat in the waiting room, I don’t know who received more sympathetic looks: me or Kitty. Your little ones are so cute, and doing so well! Kudos to the trainer. 😀

    1. That phrase comes from one of my blogger buddies, and I love it! And thank you for the kudos. I’m very pleased these little ones are doing so well.

  3. I wish all fosters worked at socializing like you do. Hazel’s foster (and I’m grateful to her for rescuing Hazel) put her in a large cage in the garage with 10 adult cats. She had way too many cats to individually socialize. Consequently Hazel was always (we had her for 12 years) skittish. She was especially fearful of strangers. She started life as feral kitten and never progressed much except with us. Sasha is a weird one. She is an in your face cat with no concept of personal space but still wary of strangers. Unfortunately, we don’t get enough visitors to break her of that. Even when we have overnight guests she stays scarce which must be hard for her. The grays are sociable. Gracie came from a hoarding situation but she must have been treated well (except for good nutrition and medical care). She loves people and will take a roll on anyone’s shoes! Your kitties are all gorgeous and hopefully mom will get a good home too.

    1. Those early days make a lifelong difference, and early work is especially critical for kittens born feral. I don’t think you’ll ever change Sasha. That habit kept her from getting many an adopter, but she got the right one in the end! Hannah is still a kitten herself, and I’m hoping someone will enjoy a laid back friendly older kitten like her. The rescue has some cats wandering around a bookstore and they get homes that way, and Hannah will be a good candidate to hang out there eventually.

      1. Yeah, excepting that she’s stealing food. She is plump. I fear I’ll have to put her on a diet and she’s very vocal about her food.

  4. They are so gosh-darn cute. Love those alert faces. Things will be so different when they are placed. Hope their new homes continue the socialization you have done so well thus far. 😻

    1. I am excited about the home two of them are getting, and hope they might become therapy cats! We will see what other adopters come along once they are posted on the website as available. Can’t wait!

  5. Aw, that’s great that you were able to take the little fluffernutters (❤️) to the training center! They are all soooo adorable! I, too, love that “singing the song of their people”! Sounds like something out of “Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood”!!

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