How to Bond With Your Kitten: 5 Easy Tips
There's nothing quite like that moment when a sweet little kitten curls up in your lap and purrs for the first time. Learning how to bond with your kitten is crucial to building a trusting and loving relationship that will last a lifetime.
How do you even begin to form a connection, though? Here are five easy tips to help you create that special, rewarding relationship.
1. Let Your Kitten Hide in a Secure Spot
Before anything else, your new kitten needs to feel secure. As close as you want to be with her, sometimes a kitten needs a secure space to call her own. This is especially important when you first bring her home. She's adjusting to all those new sights, smells, and sounds; and while she loves being near you, she may also need some alone time to get away from it all. You could keep a nervous or cautious kitten in one small room, such as a bathroom, before you give her the freedom to roam the rest of the house. Visit her often, talking softly. Coax her out with tasty treats, stroke her gently, and be patient.
Cats sometimes seek a secure place to escape, even as adults. It's best if this is a quiet, dark spot away from heavy foot traffic. Try setting up a cat bed in a corner of a closet or under a bed. If you have a dog, put the cat's bed where your dog can't reach it. Consider a cat pod that mounts to a window, which offers kitty security and privacy. You should also watch to see if your kitten chooses her own spot elsewhere. If so, make it as comfy as possible.
2. Respect Your Kitten's (Body) Language
A big part of building your bond is about learning your kitten's language and respecting her preferences. A cat's meows, purrs, and yowls can tell you when she's hungry, feeling affectionate, or in pain. Pay attention to her body language, too. Ears that are flattened or angled back indicate stress, while a puffy tail shows fright. A tail held high means your kitten is confident.
Before petting your little one, offer your hand for a sniff and watch if she pulls back or narrows her ears. Some cats don't like the scent of certain soaps or moisturizers. Take note of this, since changing the scent can build trust, too.
It may take a little bit of patience to learn your kitten's unique body language, but over time, you'll figure it out.
3. Play With Your Kitten Several Times Every Day
Kittens are all about playing and sleeping. They're little balls of furry energy until they need to collapse for a well-earned snooze. Playing is how kittens bond with their littermates. Give your kitten lots of playtime — at least three times a day for 15 minutes. Engage her with feather wands, interactive toys, sound-makers, catnip mice, or little crumpled pieces of paper. Toss a piece of kibble down the hallway and watch your little hunter chase it down.
Much of her playtime should mimic hunting and pouncing on "prey." Try something at the end of a string or a squeaky toy you can toss. Try coaxing your kitten to chase the prey up a cat tree for added exercise. Always use toys, not your hands or feet, as the items you want her to catch. You don't want your kitten getting into the habit of attacking your hands.
Once she's a little older, you can move on to clicker training to strengthen your bond even more.
4. Cuddle and Pet Your Kitten
One of the best and simplest ways to bond with your kitten is by cuddling and petting her in the way that she likes best. Pay attention to how she likes you to hold her. Some kittens want to be held like a baby, up close, where they feel warm. Others want to snuggle in your lap while you're watching TV. Still others prefer lying on top of your feet while you're in bed at night. Your kitten's preferences will likely continue into adulthood.
When you're snuggling or petting your kitten, be very gentle. Notice where she's most sensitive. This can vary from cat to cat and may include the hind legs or belly. Focus on where your cat likes to be petted the most, such as under her chin, in front of her ears, or down her back. Start handling her paws when she's young, even if she doesn't love it. This can make it easier to clip her nails or undergo vet care later on.
5. Set a Routine for Bonding With Your Kitten
Establishing a routine that your kitten can expect every day is a great way to build your bond. You might have a morning ritual of waking up and cracking the back door a little to let her smell the outdoors. Maybe you brush her after breakfast. Perhaps while you're eating lunch, she gets a treat, too. You could set up a bird feeder outside your window and then watch the birds together at dusk every evening.
Adopting a kitten is the beginning of a precious, heartwarming journey.
By learning how to bond with your kitten, you'll build a lasting connection of love and trust.