Back to News

Published: Nov 01, 2012

When you first bring a kitten home, it can be both exciting and busy as you find good vet clinics, figure out which kitten vaccines she needs and secure other aspects of pet health. These steps are critical to raising a healthy cat, but what about raising a well-adjusted cat?

By the time cats are 12 weeks old, they more or less understand how to interact with the world, according to That means this 12-week window is a crucial time for socializing your cat and making sure she is ready for a variety of life experiences when they come her way. Here are three tips to ensure your cat grows up to be well-adjusted and happy.

1. Handle, handle, handle
Young kittens are still exploring the world and deciding what they do and do not like, so it's crucial to introduce them to the touching and handling they may encounter later. Start trimming your kitten's nails, brushing her teeth and combing her fur when she's still young to get her used to the experience. If you like being able to pick up and hold your cat, make sure you start this type of handling when she is young so she gets used to the feeling. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, handling and playing with your kitten at least once a day will help her form a strong emotional bond with you.

You should also get Kitty used to her carrier when she's young. This is an experience that will be repeated every time you travel with your cat or she has to go to the vet, so it's a good idea to get her comfortable with it now.

2. Scratch this, not that
During this young age, cats gain an understanding of what is acceptable and not acceptable in terms of their behavior around the house. If you want your cat to scratch a sisal post or another scratching area (instead of your furniture), run your fingernails across it to attract her to the spot. Or, guide her there using a feather toy and praise her when she uses the post.

3. Meet everyone
It's also important that your cat meets people of all ages and genders, since they all make different noises and movements. Kittens that are exposed to senior citizens, young children, men and women are more confident in social settings and less likely to be fearful of a certain type of person. VCA recommends monitoring the introduction between children and kittens to ensure it's a pleasant one for both parties.