How to Raise a Kitten to be Cuddly
When a cuddly cat curls up in your lap, kneading and purring, or rests his head on your chest, it's a moment of pure peace and love. If you have a kitten, you're likely wondering how to raise your kitten to be cuddly. It all starts with handling the kitten frequently, bonding, and spending a lot of time together.
When to Start Handling Your Kitten
The sooner you handle and play with your kitten, the greater chance you have of raising a tame and cuddly cat. This is especially true of feral kittens whose parents are setting a wilder example for them. The best time to start taming a kitten is around four to eight weeks, aiming for the younger end of that range if possible.1
Around this age, kittens start discovering their personalities, playing with their siblings, and weaning from their mothers. Use feeding time as an opportunity to interact with them. Kittens are learning new things and forming their impressions of the world, so be sure they have a positive impression of humans.
Pet and Play With Your Kitten Frequently
Even if you weren't around when your kitten was four to eight weeks old, you can still raise your kitten to be cuddly and snuggly. It all starts by handling your kitten a lot—just be gentle. Pet your kitten and lightly squeeze and snuggle her.
Every cat has different body parts that are more sensitive than others, so while petting her, try to figure out where she's not comfortable being petted and avoid that area. Often, cats are more sensitive on their bellies. Other cats may be sensitive if their hind legs are touched. Some cats, especially if they are a little older, may not like being petted near a joint. Some love to be petted under the chin, and others are very sensitive there.
The key is to figure out where your kitten prefers to be petted and focus your attention there. Of course, you also want to approach your kitten slowly. Offer your hand for her to sniff before you pet her. Some cats may dislike the smell of certain moisturizers or soaps, so pay attention to whether your kitten shies away when you've put on a particular scent.
Many cats will have an initial aversion to your touching their paws. This is perfectly natural, but not ideal if you plan on clipping their claws. See if you can train this out of your cat by gently handling her paws from time to time. This will increase trust between the two of you and can be helpful when handling your cat in the future.
You want to play with your kitten a lot in order to grow your bond and help socialize your cat. This can include chasing a feather wand or other interactive toy around the house or even clicker training your cat. The more time you spend together, the closer you'll be. Plus, a cat that doesn't have a lot of pent-up energy is more likely to want to cuddle.
Confident Kittens Can Be More Cuddly
For kittens, the Mother's Heartbeat Heated Kitty Pet Bed with Heart Pillow can help calm stress and nervousness, leading to a more confident kitten. The set includes a heated bed and a heartbeat device that helps kittens transition better to their new homes.
Try having friends over so your kitten gets used to meeting new people at a young age. A cat that is confident around people is more likely to want close human interaction.
Give Your Cat Rituals and Traditions to Enjoy
Cats love rituals,2 and the greater your bond is with your cat, the more likely he'll become cuddly. So set up some traditions your cat looks forward to every day. This can include a special way you and your cat greet each other whenever you come home. Or maybe every morning when you get up, you can crack open an exterior door or window just a little so your cat can smell the outside world. Then you give your cat a treat. Or perhaps at the same time every day, your cat chases you around the house while you carry a wand toy with a tiny stuffed mouse at the end. Whatever the tradition is, it can help strengthen your bond.
Cats Are More Likely to Cuddle When It's Cooler
It may sound a little silly, but your cat is far more likely to want to be cuddly and lie on you if your house is a little cooler. Cats are more likely to seek out your lap in the winter when they're feeling cold. This is also why your cat is more likely to sleep on you at night. If you'd like to offer your kitty a warm place to sleep when she's not snuggling with you, check out the Thermo-Water Bolster Bed. This bed uses a warm, water-filled mattress and super plush bolster for the utmost in comfort and warmth for your cat.
Some people have reported success with luring their cats near them with a treat. But this can have varying results. Some cats get excited and energetic when a treat is near, so they won't be interested in cuddling at all.
Remember, every cat's personality is different. Some kittens will be naturally cuddly and always want to snuggle in your lap and follow you from room to room. Others may be more independent but still desire pets when they're not adventuring. Celebrate your cat's unique quirks and make sure to give that little furball lots of cuddles and scritches.
1. Phillips, Mike. "The Best Age for Taming Feral Kittens." Animal Alliance New York City, 1 May 2013, http://www.animalalliancenyc.org/wordpress/2013/05/the-best-age-for-taming-feral-kittens.
2. Petful. "How to Bond with Your Cat (And Get Them to Be More Affectionate)," Petful.com, 1 May 2020, https://www.petful.com/behaviors/getting-cat-more-affectionate/.