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Feline Friday: Copy Cat & Socializing Kittens

kitten with blue window

Squeeeeee, kittens!

It’s Black Friday–and the cats don’t care, unless you’re in the market for another feline. Some time ago one of my feline followers ask about kitty copy cat behavior (asked and answered in today’s ASK AMY video, below). And with the holidays off to a purring start, and some folks likely to add to their cat quotient, today’s blog addresses feline socialization.

Persian kittens on chair

Copy cat behavior begins with watching--cats pay exquisite attention to the world around them.

Dog people seem better at this. If you’ve adopted a new puppy, this article offers 10 ways to socialize puppies. But with kittens, the prime socialization period comes much, much earlier–age TWO TO SEVEN WEEKS!

WHAT IS SOCIALIZATION?

To be good pets, all kittens require early-age socialization. That’s a fancy way of describing how they learn to interact with the world around them.

Basket kitten
You can use natural kitten curiosity to teach confidence–a confident kitten is more emotionally healthy than a shrinking-violet-cat.
Nose to Nose cats

"Watch me, Junior, and I'll show you where they hide the tuna."

Cats can be trained (yes, they can!) at any age, and continue to learn throughout their lives. But kittens are furry sponges that absorb lessons, both good and bad, at an incredible pace. This prime kitten socialization period is a narrow window during babyhood when learning the “wrong” lessons can emotionally cripple the cat. For example, kittens not exposed to positive experiences with humans during this period will be wild (feral) critters and never accept people.

Proper socialization teaches a cat how to be a cat, proper feline manners, how to communicate with other felines, and who the cat’s friends and enemies are. Read more about 8 reasons to socialize kittens here. Of course, if you have a new kitten or plan to adopt soon, I’d strongly urge you to prepare by reading my COMPLETE KITTEN CARE book–the pictures in today’s blog are just a few from that book, available in print and/or all Ebook formats.

What about older cats? Can they be socialized? Do kitties copy the behaviors of adult cats? Do yours? What many folks may not realize is that the copied behavior can be either a good one (learning “clicker training” by watching your other pets), or a bad one (figuring out how to swipe turkey from the frig). What are some things YOUR cats have learned from other pets? C’mon, you know you want to share! Do tell!

SPECIAL THANKS

This month as a special “thank you” to all my furry-fantastic-followers, I’ll give away a paw-tographed copy of Complete Care for Your Aging Cat and Complete Care for Your Aging Dog. To get in the running, simply post a comment in the blog about your special pet (old fogey or not) and I’ll draw two names at the end of the month. You can use these award-winning updated books as a resource for yourself or wrap up for a pet-friendly holiday gift to a fur-loving friend. And as an EXTRA-special incentive–and to encourage all of y’all to mentor each other and spread the blogging/twitter/Facebook love–the two winners get to name one purr-son who gives them wags of support and deserves a book, too!

#AskAmy Sweet Tweets

Folks who “follow” me on Twitter @amyshojai and @About_Puppies are the most awesome Sweet Tweets around–they love #cats and #dogs and #pets, many #amwriting. We’ve become a great community including those in the #MyWANA social network twibe hosted by the awesome @KristenLambTX.  So I’m stealing borrowing Kristen’s methods and creating my own hashtag. Just follow and include the #AskAmy in your tweets if’n you’re interested in pithy links to articles, books, blogs, experts, fictioning and sparkle-icity!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

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About amyshojai

Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified animal behavior consultant, award winning author, and spokesperson to the pet industry.

16 responses »

  1. You know i get my pet fix vicariously through your fab posts since pets aren’t part of my life at the moment. Thanks!

    Reply
  2. Anubis has quite the vocal range, so he has started picking up Simba’s meows. Simba has learned that when he’s in the kitchen milling about like crazy, chances are there’s something yummy. She has also picked up his habit of wanting treats when we come home. LOL

    Thankfully they don’t seem to be learning any outright “bad” habits from each other.

    Reply
    • Checked the wrong notifications box.

      Reply
      • Well yeah, if THEY get treats, what about the other fur-kids? Fair’s fair, right? LOL!

        Reply
        • Yeah. LOL Actually I’m surprised it took her that long. Didn’t take him nearly as long to mimic her habit of coming to yowl EVERY TIME A CAN OPENS in this house (nevermind that 9 times out of 10 it is NOT tuna).

          Though each has one treat that the other doesn’t like – she doesn’t like the bonito flakes (no idea why, she won’t even try them), and he doesn’t like Greenies. Gave them those the other day, he scarfed all his flakes, she scarfed all but ONE of the Greenies… stepped back and stared at him like he was supposed to have it. It was so cute.

          Reply
  3. Our dear one’s outdoor relatives sometimes stop on our porch to rest. He loves to watch them & vice versa. Our dear one decided to faux box at me, something he usually didn’t do, when he saw one of his ggg-nephews get away with doing that. I informed him that would not fly.

    Reply
  4. Actually, I think our new kitten is training us. “Pet my chin or I’ll swipe your pen out of your hand. Let me sleep on your desk while you write or I’ll meow until you jam a pair of scissors in your ears. Close your laptop when you leave it or I’ll spam everyone on your mailing list and download viruses.”
    I feel poorly socialized. 😉

    Reply
  5. Heh. Mittens, who is still the kitten of the house even thought she is now two years old, learned begging from Mark and Sam, our dogs. Mark and Sam have both passed on, so Mittens has been training Rose and Kleo how to beg.

    We think that Mittens believes she is a dog. She spends more time with them than the other cats.

    Wayne

    Reply
    • Wayne, do you remember ever seeing the Disney movie “The Ugly Dachshund” about a Great Dane raised by the little dogs? I think pets do sometimes have a bit of mistaken self-image when raised with other species exclusively–but it rubs off the other way, too. I’ve seen dogs lick themselves like cats in the household, too. *s*

      Reply
    • I’d believe it. 🙂 My family’s had cats who think they’re dogs, a dog who thought he was a cat, and a HORSE who thought he was a dog. It can be pretty funny. (we’re just glad the horse didn’t think he was a cat… imagine THAT trying to sit on your lap)

      Reply

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