Thursday, July 23, 2009 3:54 PM

Bonding with Your New Kittens

When you first bring your new kittens home (note the plural), you will automatically begin the bonding process. You won't be able to help it, you're a cat lover! Obviously, the kittens will be afraid of you for a few hours, possibly a day or two. After that, they will stick to you like glue, and will not be bothered by handling. In fact, they will grow to love it, just as you will love holding and petting them. This is the most important part of training and forging a relationship with your pet. No matter what some people say, cats who experience a lot of handling grow into cats who love to be touched. The more cuddling you give, the more they will want. This seems to be true of most animals, and, I would venture to say, all mammals. We all know people who hail from touchy-feely families; they may drive us a little crazy, if we were not brought up that way. We understand, however, that this is a valid method of communication. We may even envy them their ability to be so demonstrative, and so open with their feelings. If this describes you, it is never too late to change! The first step? Go get a passel of kittens from your local shelter and bring 'em home!

Kittens who receive lots of touching and cuddling become very affectionate pets. They are also easier to train, as they bond with and want to please you. They are also more amenable to being physically corrected without being startled, i.e., as when you pick them up off the counter and place them on the floor, or remove their claws from the upholstery and place them on their scratching post. They will also tend to be cats who unashamedly ask for attention, sometimes loudly and insistently! Isn't that what companionship is all about?

When our three cats were really young, the Bear had digestive problems and we thought we might lose him. Therefore, I fussed over and coddled him like crazy. He recovered, and is extremely attached to me. He also is the "top cat". For several weeks, the kittens and I had a morning routine that went like this: I would lie down on the couch and all three would pile on top of me. We would take a 20 minute rest, with all three jockeying for the position closest to my head. More than once, I had to peel the Bear off of my face so that I could breathe! He always got the top spot. When they outgrew this phase, I have to admit, I missed it.

Other benefits of handling kittens a lot is that they are much less apt to bite or scratch you, since that would end the cuddling session. Gentle physical activity creates playful cats who learn early on not to get too carried away with the teeth and claws. It also teaches you how far you can go before problems arise, so that playtime is always a pleasure and not cause for discipline. Another bonus is that it becomes much easier to check for health problems, as they don't mind you poking around. It's what you call your "win-win" situation!

Just So You Know: This method also works with puppies!
Chat later!

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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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