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I've adopted a new, 14 week old kitten, who seems to be rather skittish. He have been avoiding handling him since tends to hiss and run when picked up, and prefers to play with us from a distance.

We've been trying to keep the noise level down, and get him used to us so we can socialise him. He also seems to cry a lot, especially at night.

How do we socialise, and help a young kitten settle in? I grew up with kittens and cats, but never one this young.

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I just had the same problems. This is totally normal, he misses his mother and probably his siblings too. I also couldn't sleep well for a week because of the crying. Now, after 2 weeks, my kitten is much more used to me and doesn't cry like before. Today I woke up terrorized because I slept too well and though she escaped somehow! Turns out she found a new hiding place behind the bed's head.

What I strongly advise you to do is:

  • Don't be anxious. It will get better really fast if you put some patience in the process. I was very anxious the first week, thinking about her having health problems or that maybe she was too small to be taken from the mother. She wasn't!

  • Don't be scared of him, kittens are usually defenseless and need reassurance by their human (yes, their human).

  • Enter the room, DON'T look at him, especially in the eyes. Do some stuff, like moving things around the room, clean, eat, drink, make a bit of noise, everything ignoring her. Repeat this process several times a day. The more you do this the faster he will get used to you entering the room.

  • Buy or make yourself some toys. Even a bunch of keys will work. Then, with much patience, try to capture his attention. It's normal if he doesn't start right away hitting the toy, he needs to learn that. His instict will soon take over when he'll be fully relaxed in the new environment.

  • Try to get closer very slowly and silently. Keep using the toy.

  • Bring some treats like a chicken sausage (avoid eveything that has fat in it) and try to feed him. At first he won't take anything to you, in this case put the food ahead of him, he'll eventually eat it. Make sure he sees you leaving/giving the food.

  • When he accepts your food from your hand, it's time to pet him! Ignore the hissing, at this point it's unlikely he'll hurt you (perhaps he doesn't even know how to do that yet. My 12 weeks kitten really is still clueless about how much her paws can be sharp).

  • When he lets you pet him, pet him. Eveyday, all the day, for as much he let you do that. Peeeet him veeeery much, and give food from your hand. Those two are the most effective ways to create a bond between you.

  • At this point after a few days, invite friends and family to your house and ask them one by one to pet him. He'll quickly associate humans to cuddles after a few "petting invitations".

Of course there is a lot more to know especially in the future and depending on certain conditions (will he go outside? are there other pets? Etc etc) but for the beginning I think those tips work (they did for me).

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You need to get him to play a little, so he forgets how scared he is. He cries because he misses his mother, so he needs you to help him feel safe. It does often take some time before a young cat is comfortable in a new house.

Try to pet him a little when he comes out of hiding, but do not follow him as this can make him scared of you. After some time you can lift him when he comes to you and put him on your lap, but do not hold him tight - let him be able to get away if he wants to.

It does look like you are doing things right, so you only need to give it some time; things will be ok. Some kittens need a couple of weeks to warm up to you.

Getting the kitten to play is important, cats are not able to play and be scared at the same time.

If you have a cat tree you can place the cat there on an elevated place, so he can see what's going on.

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