Feline Wellness

How to Socialize Spicy Kittens

April 10, 2024

It’s kitten season and if you are a foster parent, you know that fostering is hard - yet extremely rewarding - work. Fostering friendly kittens is hard enough, but socializing spicy kittens - those who don’t yet like humans - is something you should learn to really bring your fostering skills to a new level. It requires patience, understanding, and consistent positive interaction, but watching your hissy babies transform into well-adjusted lap cats is a feeling like no other. 

Here are some tips for socializing spicy kittens:

  • Start Early: Begin socializing kittens as early as possible, ideally before they are eight weeks old. Kittens are most receptive to socialization during this period. Once kittens reach three months, they are much more difficult to socialize.
  • Create a Safe Space: Provide a safe and comfortable space for the kittens. Make sure they have access to food, water, litter boxes, and places to hide if they feel scared. A bathroom or pet playpen is perfect for unsocialized kittens. You don’t want to give them too much space as they can easily feel overwhelmed. 
  • Handle with Care: Handle the kittens gently and frequently. Start by simply being present near them and gradually progress to gentle touches and strokes. Use slow movements and soft voices to avoid startling them. If they are particularly spicy, you can use a toothbrush rather than your finger to pet them in order to avoid getting bit. Spend time in same space with them as often as possible even if you’re not actively engaged with them so they get used to being around humans. 
  • Use Positive Reinforcement: Use treats, toys, and praise to reward calm and friendly behavior. Encourage them to approach you by offering treats and engaging them in play. Mousse treats are particularly helpful here as most kittens cannot resist the taste and will do whatever it takes -including tolerating human touch - in order to get a few licks. Wand toys are great too as the kitten can play with you without you getting too close and invading their personal space.
  • Socialize with Friendly Animals: Expose the kittens to well-behaved cats or dogs. Positive interactions with other animals can help them learn appropriate social behavior and they may feel safer seeing other animals be so relaxed and content. 

Divide and Conquer: Separating unsocialized kittens may be necessary. Sometimes it is easier to turn an unsocial kitten into a friendly kitten if they spend some one-on-one time with humans. When two undersocialized kittens are together, they can reinforce each other’s fearfulness or aggression. Splitting them up can help them make progress more quickly. 

  • Respect Boundaries: Pay attention to the kitten's body language and respect their boundaries. If they show signs of fear or aggression - hissing, spitting, swatting - give them space and try again later. They are scared of people and pushing them too far will only heighten their fear.
  • Be Patient: Socialization is a process that can take weeks or even months depending on the kitten’s temperament and age. The kitten is frightened and needs plenty of love, time, and patience. Introduce the kittens to different sights, sounds, and experiences gradually so as to not overwhelm them. This helps them become more confident and less fearful of new situations.  

By following these tips and providing a caring and understanding environment, you can help spicy kittens become more confident, sociable, and adoptable cats.

Love, Nala