Our Atlanta Journal-Constitution Sunday paper had an article in the Living section titled "Who's A Good Dog
?" about socializing dogs that I thought was very nicely done. I wish kitties would get equal press but since most people expect their cats to be shy and elusive and don't regularly take them out in public, articles on how to socialize cats just don't rate in importance, especially since dogs are far more likely to come into contact with the general public.
'Socializing improves behavior of fearful canines.'
'Pups best, but pooches of all ages can benefit.'
'We want them to be comfortable around people of different shapes and sizes.'
S. Crowell-Davis, professor of veterinary behavior, UGA: 'Fear is the most common reason dogs bite. They're less fearful if their owners expose them to a variety of people and places from a young age -- a process known as socialization.'
'While it is far quicker and easier to teach a puppy from the beginning that the world is a safe place, a dog of any age can -- and should -- be socialized.'
R. Slonina: 'It takes a lot of time. It takes patience, but you get out of it what you put into it. ...it is totally worth it. I wanted her [dog, Arabelle] to be more comfortable, and I felt no creature should live in constant fear and anxiety.'
This is the phrase that struck a chord in me: "I felt no creature should live in constant fear and anxiety."
When I get feral or semi-feral cats/kittens to tame and socialize for adoption I work very hard during that first week to help them relax and trust me so they can get past their fears and anxieties. I do this because I feel it is
cruel to allow them to remain fearful and anxious over a period of weeks waiting for them to decide to progress forward with me.
Some feral cats/kittens will never take that first step towards socialization on their own, so I take the initiative to show them they can trust us and begin to learn about all the good things people can do for them.
I prefer to dedicate time and effort into a concentrated campaign to show them they have nothing to fear from people. To show them we can bring them good things and do nice things for them. I want them to learn this as soon as possible so they are receptive to the socializing skills I am teaching them and those relaxed socializing skills become ingrained and stay with them before they go to the adoption center to find their permanant homes as loved members of families. I practice my techniques on my own cats, many of whom were former ferals, and I have achieved great levels of handling with them. Some learned quicker than others and some took more time, but I never gave up on them and they have all become wonderful kitties.
I feel I have learned a lot about cat/kitten behavior by encountering as many ferals and semi-ferals and learning how to work with, and reach, each one. Every cat is different and I have learned something different from each cat.
...just my thoughts...