how to train your cat to be nice

How to Socialize a Cat

Cats get a pretty bad wrap for being anti-social and well, anti-human.  This however does not have to be the case!  All cats have the chance of being lap cats, and the earlier they find a loving, welcoming home, the sooner they will ease into actually wanting to spend time and cuddle with their human companions.

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I love lap cats and all of my cats since childhood have happily jumped into my arms and cuddled for hours on end.  The cat I spent my adolescence and early adulthood with, slept in my bed with me and was my constant companion.  The cats in our home now, snuggle with us at every opportunity and run to the door to greet us when we get home.  They welcome the enthusiastic love that only children can give, and happily play, snuggle and spend time with our human children.

How did this come to be?  Simple: socialization.  Right from the get-go our cats felt safe and secure in our home and received tremendous love and attention.

Socializing a Kitten

Adopting a kitten at an early age gives her new family an immediate head start towards the goal of having a loving, happy lap cat.

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This is simply because kitty spends its formative time with a safe and loving family and simply does not know anything else.  Of course, the influences before she joins her new family are still there, but if negative, can easily be wiped out with lots of attention and love.

Much like with humans, when cats’ basic needs are met, they are able to relax and become much more trusting.  It is important to help kitty transition to her new home and ensure that she is fed and has access to a clean litter box.  This is the absolute bare minimum, but sets the foundation for kitty to appreciate and relax in her home.

To help kitty become a cuddle bug, she needs lots of cuddles!  When a kitten comes into our home, her feet barely ever touch the floor.  This is of course, hyperbolic, but the fact remains that the more she is held, snuggled and cuddled, the faster she will get used to this type of love and seek it out.  If you want your cat to love to be cuddled, she needs to experience lots of cuddles and attention.

Socializing an Adult Cat

Compared to socializing a kitten, making a lap cat out of an adult is a little trickier.

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Unfortunately, kitty’s upbringing and experiences prior to her new home will shape how she reacts to an abundance of love and attention.

A cat’s social behaviour is the direct result of her experiences as a kitten.  If she was in a safe loving home, where love and attention was showered on her, then she will be more trusting and affectionate.  If she was treated aggressively, she will be aggressive. If she was neglected, she’ll be indifferent to humans.  Nevertheless, in time, her behaviour can change with love and attention.

When bringing home an adult cat, it is important to give more space than would be given to a kitten.  Kitty will likely be more apprehensive and need time to explore her environment to develop confidence.  Of course, it is possible that she will enter her new space and seek out human comfort and reassurance, so it is important to be nearby and read her cues.

With an adult cat, it is important to give her space for some time.  She may be stand-offish; she may hide and she may run from any human interaction.  These are all completely normal reactions, but do not mean that she will act that way forever.

If she is apprehensive, give her time.  Be sure she has food, water and clean litter available at all times and try to keep her new environment as calm as possible.  Speak gently to her and if she permits, give some reassuring pats.  As she begins to feel safe, she will begin to have more trust and allow more human interaction.

Overtime, as kitty feels safer in her new environment, she will start looking for more attention.  Depending on her personality and experiences, this could be a matter of days, weeks or longer.  As she shows more trust and comfort, extend more affection.  Some days she will welcome it and others she will run from it.  It’s all a matter of time.  Continue to keep her well fed, her litter clean and accessible and offer gentle reassurance and love at every opportunity.

socializing cats

While not every adult cat can be transformed into a lap cat, with time, dedication and love, it is quite possible for many.  Building a foundation of trust and offering love will help kitty develop confidence in her new humans and will create a lasting friendship.