How to Raise a Happy, Friendly Kitten or Cat
Animal experts agree that a cat’s personality can be influenced by not only their genes (“nature”), but also their socialization and the way that they’re raised (“nurture”). That’s why it’s so important to socialize your kitty properly and help them become a loving and friendly companion. While it’s best to start as soon as possible (preferably while your cat is still a kitten), even adult cats can benefit from some of these recommendations.
Remember that every cat has a unique personality, and some are naturally more outgoing than others. It’s very unlikely that an extremely shy or aggressive cat will turn into a cuddle bug overnight (or maybe ever), but these recommendations can help your cat become a friendlier, more affectionate, and happier companion.
How to Raise a Happy, Healthy, and Friendly Cat
- Comb and brush your kitten often and gently. Start by softly brushing their back or side, working up to areas around their tail and paws. Make it a pleasant experience by speaking gently to them throughout, offering small treats during the process, and allowing your cat to stop the grooming whenever they become uncomfortable. Don’t force them to be brushed if they don’t want it; this can result in shyness and aggression.
- Give your kitty lots of attention and affection when they’re behaving in a way that you want to encourage. This includes sitting calmly by you and playing with a toy or scratching post. Helping your cat get used to contact can help them react well when encountering strangers or visitors.
- Hold and massage your cat’s feet. This will help your cat stay calm when you or your vet trims their nails. Many cats are uncomfortable with their feet being touched, and their paw pads can be extremely sensitive. Start slowly by gently placing your hand over your cat’s paw or cupping it in your palm. Work up to softly stroking the top of their paw with your finger and gently extending their claws by moving their toes.
- Trim your cat’s nails very 2 weeks if possible. This prevents damage to furniture as well as accidental or deliberate scratching of people or other animals. If your cat will not tolerate having their nails trimmed, provide them with a quality scratching post tall enough to allow them to stretch, and praise them for using it.
- Provide lots of different cat toys to keep them busy and using their brain. Bored cats often misbehave and can develop anxiety, depression, and unwanted behaviors. Understand how your cat plays and play with your cat for at least 15 minutes a day.
- If your kitty will allow it (and they might not), gently rub their tummy and legs. This soothing contact won’t only calm your cat, it can also help increase the bond between you and your pet.
- Be sure to feed your kitten or cat a food that is appropriate for their life stage. Nutritional deficiencies can lead to health problems, which in turn can lead to uncomfortable symptoms or behavioral issues. Feed your kitten a vet-approved, nutritionally complete kitten food until they are 9 months old. After that, check with your vet and discuss when you should change their food. (Remember to switch formulas gradually to avoid stomach upset.)
- Provide plenty of fresh food and water. A surprising number of owners leave dishes out for days at a time, letting food get stale and water get contaminated with germs, dust, and more. Wash your cat’s dishes at least once a week and change their food and water at least once a day. Many cats and kittens drink far less water than they should, which can result in urinary infections and problems. To ensure the best-tasting and smelling water, provide your cat with a pet-safe drinking fountain that provides a constant flow of fresh drinking water.
- Provide sufficient litter boxes for your cat and keep them clean. The minimum number of boxes should be the number of cats plus one, or one litter box per floor of your home, whichever is greater. Clean the boxes once a day and wash them once a week whenever possible.
- Take some time every day to focus on your cat. Whether it’s an hour or even just 5 minutes, really spend time focusing on making them happy and helping them feel loved. It’s a small change that makes a big difference in your relationship with your cat.
I hope these tips help you raise the best cat ever!