This article is part of our series of informational tips for volunteer foster families.
Consider making a long-term difference through short-term care by signing up to foster animals in need.
Congratulations and thank you for fostering kittens!
Socializing is one of the most important tasks for a foster volunteer. You can make a huge impact on the kittens during this very impressionable developmental period.
Each kitten is an individual and should be socialized (as much as is possible) solo. They may not go home with a sibling so exposing them to life things alone will help them adapt more readily in their new world. We understand that we have certain protocols that may limit which of these items you can actually expose your kitten to. These protocols are in place to keep all animals in the home safe and healthy.
Below, you will find a list of things kittens would benefit from being exposed to. For any foster animal that is 16 weeks or younger, we encourage you to keep this list saved for easy access. Make an effort to expose your kittens to at least five different items per day, and keep track of what each kitten was exposed to. When your kittens become available for adoption, this information can be helpful for finding them a home (use the foster feedback form for those notes).
Consider yourselves the kitten’s teacher. You provide early experiences, sometimes first experiences, when you welcome these kittens into your home. As a good teacher, you will want to be mindful of the kitten’s comfort level, and make adjustments as needed to increase the kitten’s comfort. If your foster is showing signs of fear toward a particular item (shaking, hissing, retreating in fear), it may be helpful to increase the distance, modify your environment, or remove the item or the kitten altogether.
Remember, for the first seven days with you, your foster kittens are considered to be in an important quarantine period. During this time, kittens can only be on surfaces that can be bleached (hardwood floors, tile, cement, blankets), and the kittens cannot be exposed to other resident animals. This is for your own pet’s safety as well as that of your foster.
Kitten Socialization Ideas
Here is a list of experiences you can consider exposing your kitten to in order to help them grow up to be confident, brave, and well-adjusted. All experiences should be safe and positive. Each encounter should include new things first, then treats and lots of praise. Slow down and add distance if the kitten is scared!
Ways to Handle Your Kitten:
|Examine Mouth and Gums|
|Touch Between Toes|
|Handle and Trim Toenails|
|Cradle like a Baby|
|Tug Tail Lightly|
|Gently Grab Body Parts|
|Gently Grab the Scruff of Neck|
|Give Belly Rub|
|Wipe Body with Towel|
People to Introduce Your Kitten to:
|People of Other Ethnicities|
|Men with Deep Voices|
|Men with Beards|
|Toddlers (Walking, Squealing)|
|Children (Standing, Playing)|
|People Wearing Hats or Helmets|
|People Wearing Hoodies or Heavy Coats|
|People Wearing Backpacks|
|People Wearing Sunglasses|
|People Using Canes, Walkers, or Crutches|
|People Wearing Facemasks|
Sounds to Expose Your Kitten to:
|Garage Door Opening|
|Beeping (Microwave, Alarm)|
|Washing Machine / Dryer|
|Food Processor / Blender|
Surfaces for Your Kitten to Walk On: