Video Series: Socializing Cats to People

When it comes to socializing cats, the most popular way to do it is to introduce them regularly to new people. Students in my socialization classes have helped their adult cats become more social by inviting people to their house. In pre-COVID days, when I could teach Kitten Kindergarten, I had each attendee play a game called Pass the Kitten, which is just what it sounds like. Everyone would spend some time with each person’s kitten, which will help the kittens become more people-friendly. As a socializer at our local non-kill cat shelter, I spend most of my time working with shy/fearful cats, After I’ve gained the trust of, my next step is to help them see not just me but also others as a positive in their life. Clients of mine have helped their adult cats become more social through playtime with visitors. In this first article of a new series, I’ll share videos as examples.

This first video is of my visit to with a Socialization student and her cat. You’ll notice that first I got on the cat’s level. Although I faced the cat, the recommendation is actually to sit sideways, as this will be less intimidating to a cat. Next, I held out my hand and let him come to me. This allowed him to decide when and how to interact with me. I also came bearing gifts. Once he took interest in me, I held out a treat and later I offered a toy. Treats and toys are great ways to woo a cat. At no point did I require him to like me. In fact, when he lost interest, I let him leave.

This second video is an unintentional example of Pass the Kitten. My husband and I had invited several friends over to meet our foster kittens. It just so happened that they took a lot of turns passing kittens to one another, as I recorded them. In the video, you’ll see our friends sitting with them, standing and holding them against their chest. Studies have shown that kittens should ideally be handled several times a day by many different types of people to encourage them to grow up into well-socialized adults. At the time the kittens were adopted, they were all very affectionate with people.

This third video was recorded at a local cat shelter. After months of patient teamwork involving volunteer caretakers and volunteer socializers, a former feral has begun to lose his fear of people. When I first Matt, he used to hide in a bed in his hutch. Whenever anyone approached, he’d hiss and swipe at them. I used a process of slow blinks and food on a spoon to gain his trust. After my visiting Matt multiple times, he began to warm up to me and accept food that I left in his hutch. Not long after, he started venturing to the edge of his hutch and then to the floor for treats. When I got to the place where he began asking to be petted even when I didn’t have treats, I knew it was time to have friends visit him; the more comfortable he became with a variety of people, the more likely that he would come out of his hutch during Open Hours.

This fourth video is from a client. Her younger cat wasn’t getting along with anyone and would run from visitors. She’d also hide in a corner or hang back in an entrance, and from there were swipe at passing family members. I taught my client how to socialize her cat to visitors and to family. We did this by having people interact with the cat in a calmer way, while also offering treats or toys. This video is a fun one that shows the daughter regaining the cat’s trust with a favorite toy. Cats will often take a treat simply because they like food; playtime in contrast usually only happens when they’re relaxed.

Videos can sometimes convey information in a way that words alone can’t. My hope is that these videos will help you learn about cats in a different way than my articles do by themselves. If you like the videos, please consider subscribing to my Youtube channel. Also, please comment on this article to tell me what topics you’d like me to write about in the future. I’ll do my best to find related videos!

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