When you bring a new kitten home and into the family, finding ways to bond can help build a deep relationship between the two, three, four, or more of you. While you may be familiar with the stereotypes about cats being aloof, the reality is quite different. A recent study found that kittens form affectionate bonds with their caretakers, much like dogs. Developing this attachment can take time, but the rewards are well worth it. Knowing how to bond with your kitten can help this experience go more smoothly.
The Importance of Bonding with a Kitten
Bonding with your kitten, especially when bringing them home, is essential to their growth and well-being. Building a secure attachment to you helps your kitten become confident and boosts their happiness. Bonding with your kitten results in less stress for them over the years while making it easier for them to feel comfortable around other people and pets. When you spend the time learning how to bond with a kitten, you can look forward to spending many years with a happy and healthy cat.
How to Get a Kitten to Imprint on You
What is imprinting? Imprinting occurs when your kitten forms a secure attachment to you and learns to trust you. A kitten imprinting on you means they know that it can go to you for food, shelter, safety, and other needs. You can get your kitten to imprint on you in a few different ways.
Having regular playtime periods is a great way to bond with your kitten. Kittens are full of energy and curiosity, so giving them an outlet helps ease their stress. Use interactive toys to encourage your kitten to play with you, such as a feather wand that you can wave around.
Keeping a regular schedule is also a valuable part of bonding with a kitten. Feed your kitten at routine times each day, keep playtime at the same times, and manage their litter box regularly. Kittens feel more secure when they know what to expect.
Grooming your kitten with brushing and nail trimming can also help you bond with them. Trimming your kitten’s nails and brushing their fur can help them get used to being handled.
Physical contact with your kitten can help build a strong bond with them. Gently pet your kitten with soft strokes. You should avoid doing this when they don’t want to be handled, such as when they’re full of energy or nervous.
Signs of Bonding with a Kitten
Knowing how to gain a kitten’s trust means being familiar with the signs of bonding. These include:
- Rubbing against you to leave their scent
- Blinking slowly at you
- Kneading on you (“making biscuits”)
- Purring while you pet them or hold them
- Exposing their tummy to you
How Long Does Bonding Take?
The amount of time it takes to bond with a kitten can vary. Some kittens bond with their caretakers in a matter of days, while others need more time to feel comfortable. Kittens that are more fearful or timid might need several weeks to bond with you. No matter how long it takes, the key is to be patient and continue going through the steps to connect with your kitten.
When You Should Bond with a Kitten
Learning how to get a kitten to bond with you involves having good timing. Ideally, bonding should start when kittens are around eight weeks old. They should be ready to bond and learn social skills at this time. Remember that older kittens and even adult cats can connect with their caretakers.
Items to Help You Bond with Your Kitten
Making sure your kitten has everything needed for a comfortable home is an excellent way to start bonding. Suitable (and curiously fun) toys can also give your kitten a way to burn off energy and bond with you. Put the following items on your new kitten checklist:
- Cat bed
- Litter box
- Food and water bowls
- Scratching post
- Cat tree
- Feather wands, dancers, and other interactive cat toys
Kittens Bonding with Other Kittens
Kittens can bond with their fellow kittens. Personality can play a role in how and when this happens. For example, if you bring two kittens home, they might play and get along immediately. This bonding might only occur after one is more timid than the other. Letting your kittens get used to each other while having some time apart each day is an effective way to help them bond.
What to Avoid When Bonding with Your Kitten
Knowing how to bond with a kitten involves being familiar with things to avoid doing. When you click with your kitten, avoid using your hands as a toy for them to play with. This can encourage your kitten to scratch or bite as a form of play. It might seem adorable when they’re little, but it can become a problem when they’re fully grown. Have your kitten play with feather wands and other toys instead.
When you’re learning how to bond with your kitten, avoid putting them in uncomfortable situations. If your kitten acts nervous around other people, for example, hold off on having friends and family over at first. When your kitten is more comfortable, you can invite more people to meet them. Remember that you can give your kitten treats and toys to make uncomfortable or scary situations more pleasant for them.
Time and Tenderness Lead to a Strong Bond
Getting your kitten to bond with you doesn’t happen overnight. Knowing how to get a scared kitten to trust you can be even more challenging. Remember that your kitten will eventually grow to trust you and feel secure around you. Being patient throughout the bonding process means you’ll have a great relationship with your kitten all the way to cat-hood.