Most cat owners prefer their pet to be friendly and affectionate, rather than aloof. However, every cat has its own unique quirks, and while some might crave cuddles and affection while they are young kittens, their loving natures might change over time. This transition has left many fur parents wondering whether it is normal for kittens to be more affectionate than adult cats.
This post will clarify whether age influences your cat’s level of affection, and what you can do to keep your furball affectionate as he grows older.
Cats’ age and affectionate natures
Most of us find kittens quite irresistible. Having these friendly little furballs cuddling and sleeping on our laps just feels so fulfilling. However, as they grow older, you may notice them becoming less affectionate. This is because our once-cuddly babies are slowly becoming more independent as they learn new things and explore their environment. As you watch this process, you might find yourself wondering whether kittens really are more affectionate than adult cats.
Although there are exceptions, kittens are generally very affectionate during their first months. As they transition into adult cats, their true colors and personalities begin to develop, and they might spend more time playing and tussling with other pets than cuddling on your lap. That is completely normal – your kitten is just being his true self.
Additionally, some kittens are more naturally affectionate and cuddly than others. This depends on several factors, such as their breed, how they were raised, and each cat’s own unique personality. Moreover, some cats can be affectionate in unexpected ways, rather than in the ways you know and prefer.
With all of this in mind, you should do your research first if you are looking for a cuddly lap cat as a companion. Consider the breed of the cat as well as the temperaments of its parents, and remember that it is crucial to socialize your kitten. Training them at a young age will increase the likelihood of them growing into affectionate, well-behaved adult felines.
When can you start handling your kitten?
According to experts, the best time to start taming a kitten is when they reach about eight weeks of age. By this time, your kitten should have started exploring his environment, weaning from his mother, and discovering his own likes and dislikes. This period is also a critical time for kittens to form impressions about their surroundings. Hence, you must ensure that your kitten forms a positive impression about you and the other members of your household.
Will a cuddly kitten be a cuddly cat?
A cuddly kitten does not always guarantee a cuddly adult cat. They might be more affectionate at first as they depend on you for shelter, warmth, and food; however, kittens tend to show off their true personalities as they grow older. Some breeds are naturally cuddly, such as Ragdolls, Siamese, and Persian cats. Other breeds simply prefer to be more independent and less cuddly.
How to raise your kitten to be more affectionate
1. Socialize and condition
Socializing a kitten at the youngest possible age is the best way to raise an affectionate cat. However, there is a right window to do that. Newborn kittens younger than eight weeks must first be nursed and cared for by their mother. At this time, they are entirely dependent on their mother for nutrition, warmth, and any other needs, so it is vital that you let your kitten spend his first weeks with his mother cat and his siblings.
If you are adopting a baby kitten without a mother, you will need to take round-the-clock responsibility for his well-being, just as you would for a human baby.
- Start by bottle-feeding the kitten every three hours, using the right milk formula. Ask your veterinarian if you are not sure which milk is best for your kitten, but do not just use cow’s milk.
- Keep the kitten warm to simulate how a mother cat and her kittens would snuggle together for warmth and security.
- At this young age, kittens do not yet know how to move their bowels on their own. Try to help your kitten eliminate through gentle stimulation.
- Keep your kitten clean and away from other pets. His body is not yet strong enough to fight any diseases he might catch from his environment.
Once you start nurturing this little kitten, he will start depending on you and trusting you as his own parent. Once he is more than eight weeks of age and has completed his vaccinations, you can begin socializing him with people and other pets. Without proper socialization, you will raise a cat that gets nervous at the slightest change in his environment.
Since this growing stage is the most critical period of your cat’s social development, make sure that the kitten gets enough interactions by:
- Introducing him to family members, household pets, and friends
- Engaging him in play sessions using toys
- Letting him get used to noisy activities at home so that he does not grow fearful of loud noises
2. Give lots of cuddles and petting
Cats learn how to be more affectionate through how they are raised as kittens, and these lessons start with constant cuddling and petting. Always treat your kitten gently so that he learns to be gentle with other pets and people as he grows older. Keep him warm and cozy on your lap as you shower him with affection, especially in areas where he likes to be petted the most. Gently brush his fur so that he gets used to being brushed and cleaned as he grows older.
3. Incorporate play sessions
Playtime should be a part of your kitten’s daily routine as he grows up. Not only is it good exercise; it is also an excellent way for him to socialize with you and other pets. Use toys such as laser pointers, feather wands, stuffed animals, or string to spark his curiosity and hunting instinct. Cats are naturally inclined to chase and pounce on small moving objects, just as they would do when hunting prey.
A word of caution: Never use your fingers when playing with your kitten. Biting and scratching might seem harmless while the cat is still young; however, this type of interaction can turn the kitten into an aggressive cat as he matures. This is not how you want to raise your cat, so scratching and biting of flesh should never be allowed.
4. Give your kitten a breather
Most cat owners often find their kittens irresistible that they forget cuddles and playtime can tire them out, too. Give your kittens a break and let him wander off if he wants to. Playtime should only last for about 15 minutes each session. Otherwise, you will be raising a cat who will never enjoy socializing with people.
5. Never yell or punish
Kittens love to play, and they will pounce, swat, kick, and chase as a way of enhancing their physical coordination and hunting skills. It is therefore unavoidable that your little fur baby sometimes gets a bit too frisky with you or other animal playmates.
Young kittens can also be quite mischievous at times. However, no matter how naughty your kitten becomes, you must not yell at him or punish him. He will not understand why you are punishing him, and such methods will only make him fearful and distrustful of humans. Instead, stay calm and interact with him in a soft, friendly voice. If he starts to show unwanted behavior, simply ignore him and stop giving him attention for a while.
6. Use positive reinforcement
As much as possible, you want to raise not only an affectionate cat, but also a well-behaved one – and the most effective way for cats to learn proper behavior is through positive reinforcement. This simply means that you reward your furball with praise, treats, and attention for good behavior.
As mentioned, never yell at or punish a cat for being naughty. Things that we consider negative, such as spraying, scratching, and biting, are all natural behaviours for predatory animals like cats.
That is why correcting these behaviors at a young age is essential if you want to raise an affectionate, well-behaved cat. Otherwise, you will end up with a feisty adult cat who thinks it is acceptable to scratch your furniture, bite your toes, or claw at you.
7. Keep him healthy and happy
Sometimes, bad behavior is simply a way for your cat to express how he feels. If he feels sick or in pain, he might stop being sociable and affectionate. Sudden crankiness in a usually sweet cat could be a sign of pain or senility. Hence, keeping your kitten healthy is essential for him to grow up with an affectionate temperament.
Just like caring for a human baby, you must ensure that he gets the best nutrition to grow strong and healthy. Veterinary check-ups and preventative care are also important to protect him from diseases, and routine vaccinations and deworming help to avoid bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections.
Will a cat become less affectionate over time?
A cat’s temperament can change over time, but that does not mean your cat’s love and trust are deteriorating. Perhaps he is just showing his true nature. Forcing your feline to interact in a way that makes him feel uncomfortable will only hurt the relationship.
Some cats also tend to show their affection in other ways, such as napping or sitting beside their owners – and that should be totally accepted. The most important thing is for your cat to feel confident and safe around people.
At what age do kittens stop being cuddly?
In general, most cats start to become less affectionate during their teenage years, which is around the age of 12 – 18 months. This is when a cat’s true personality will start to establish, and is also the period when the cat begins transitioning into adulthood. By the end of this period, you should be able to identify your cat’s individual likes and dislikes. If your furball is not the cuddly type, he is probably more of an introvert.
Every cat has its own unique personality. Some are naturally more affectionate and friendly than others, and these temperaments generally emerge as kittens become adults. So, if your cat is not the type that enjoys being held or cuddled, that’s okay!
At the end of the day, what matters most is that your cat feels loved and secure in his home. A cat raised in a loving family will eventually reciprocate the love, even if he does so in his own special way.
Image: istockphoto.com / FamVeld