As soon as a kitten’s eyes and ears are open at two weeks, socialization begins. After 12 to 14 weeks, socialization tends to have far more limited success. This means that socializing foster kittens early and well is essential to finding them forever homes.

The more time you can spend with or near the cats/kittens the better. A home office, for example, is a wonderful place to keep fosters.

Make frequent visits to the room/space where your foster is and spend time sitting, reading or working near them if possible so they get comfortable with your presence.

Keep kittens/cats in a room or area with no inaccessible hiding spots so you don’t have to hunt for or pull them out, which can be traumatic.

Provide a safe space like a box or kennel where they can go to feel protected, but give them reasons to come out of it – such as to eat or play.

♥ Try to avoid raising solo kittens. A solo-raised kitten is more likely to display undesirable behaviors.

Remember that cats and kittens are individuals. Each responds differently and has its own distinct personality.

Handling Kittens

♥ While kittens/cats are eating, gently touch the kitten. If they are aggressive or fearful, begin by touching them with a toy or tool. Once you are confident they will not bite or scratch, start petting them with your hands, so that they will begin to associate touch with food.

♥ Not all cats are lap cats; if they don’t want to be held, focus on petting and spending time near them or playing with them.

♥ After cats/kittens are used to your touch, try petting their bellies, paws, etc. to make them more open to care and treatment. The earlier you begin, the better.

♥ Introduce cats/kittens to different people if possible so that they learn other humans are safe as well.

♥ If possible, keep a cat carrier in or near their space so that they can play in it and become comfortable and relaxed about being placed in it. This makes all the difference for visits to FLR/vet!

What to Avoid

Playing with hands/fingers/feet as a game is never okay! It leads to attack behaviors and makes cats hard to place. Hands and fingers are for petting; toys for playing.

Other behaviors to prevent/discourage are getting up on counter tops/ tables and scratching furniture/carpet (buy an inexpensive cardboard scratching pad or ask for one from FLR).

Fearful or overstimulated cat eyes will dilate; checking their eyes can be helpful, BUT staring at a kitten can be threatening, so eye contact should be broken quickly.

Feral cats/kittens have not yet been socialized to humans and may exhibit behavior that is scared or aggressive. Protect yourself and them by using thick leather gloves and handling them as little as possible until they become used to your presence.