“How am I supposed to do this? I can barely remember to feed myself, how do you expect me to remember to feed a little kitten five to six times a day!?” You’re freaking out. You never thought you’d become a parent to such a minuscule mouser, but here you are. Are hand-reared kittens more affectionate, though?
You’ve read articles about humans taking care of orphaned kittens and little ones that have been separated from their mothers the moment they were born. Most of these stories – mushy and mawkish endings and everything – made you think that hand-rearing a kitten wasn’t that bad.
“I can do this, right? I’ve never hand-reared a kitten before, but there’s a first for everything, right?” you mumble as you’re trying to convince yourself you’re up to par with such a sudden turn of events. You never thought you’d be the one to stumble upon an abandoned kitten. But you’re not ready to just throw in the towel.
“Why wouldn’t I be able to do this? I can raise this little lass to become one of the most loving, caring, and affectionate kittens. Who’s going to stop me? My fears? Nope. My lack of experience? Nope. My lack of fluffy ears and meowing abilities? Maybe, but I’m going to try my best.”
Argh, becoming a parent to a pet that’s been abandoned by one of their own can be such a humbling experience. But there’s nothing nobler than stepping up and taking care of the little one regardless of the odds. And, as a matter of fact, hand-reared kittens are more affectionate.
Don’t get me wrong, caring for a kitten requires a lot of effort, time, and energy. But, there are plenty of reasons to believe that such an act of kindness never goes unrewarded.
What are hand-reared kittens, actually?
Hand-reared kittens aren’t a novelty. There have been situations throughout history where humans had to take care of kitties “by hand.” That’s where the “hand-reared kittens” term comes from. They refer to kitties whose mothers (or other cats) don’t take care of them from a very young age.
The mother may have died and left the entire litter behind. Or rejected one because she sensed it was getting sick and she wanted to protect the rest of the litter. Or maybe the mother was the one that got sick and wasn’t able to take care of them.
As sad as that might sound, these are typically the main reasons a kitten would need a human’s help.
In practice, the process of hand-rearing a kitten entails feeding (spoon, bottle, or syringe), cleaning and toileting, monitoring the health of the kitten (regular vet check-ups, too), and keeping the kitten warm, secure, and socialized.
And, as you might have guessed, hand-rearing a kitten is a commitment not everyone’s ready to make. By doing such a selfless act of kindness, you’re setting yourself up for spending most of your day taking care of a baby that’s not even yours (though, pet parents would argue that their kittens ARE their babies).
With that out of the way, hand-reared kittens grow to become pretty pleased with humans and their shenanigans. They don’t mind when you spend hours of the day cuddling, petting, and smothering them with your love. They don’t mind when your friends, neighbors, or even other animals do that, either.
We could argue that hand-reared kittens are more affectionate. But, but, but… There’s always a but when we’re talking about kittens and their (pretty endearing, but ever so odd) behavior. Take a look at what we’ve gathered and draw your own conclusions.
Are hand-reared kittens more affectionate?
Now that you’ve had some time to understand and accept the situation (given that the story from the beginning of the article relates to you), you might start to wonder about the dos and don’ts of taking care of a kitten at such a young age.
And, you’re wondering whether hand-reared kittens are more affectionate because there’s nothing that would make you happier than to have such a mischievous monster adore every step you take.
The reason most people believe that to be true seems to be that hand-reared kittens trust humans, bond with them pretty easily, and don’t go “Don’t you ever talk to meow like that!” whenever humans approach them.
Take a peek at what you can look forward to when you take on the role of the kitten’s mother. You’d be surprised at the amount of love a little furball’s willing to offer in return for a lick of milk.
1. They’re more likely to trust humans
Here’s the thing – when you take care of a kitten from a very young age, you can bank on the fact that the kitten becomes attached to you.
You might be a little less fluffy than her and you might not speak the same language as she does (your super realistic “meow” doesn’t help). But, you’re the only motherly figure she’s got.
Most kittens that grow up with the help of a human end up trusting the human more than anyone else. That’s not to say that they trust every human they cross paths with. But, they’re pretty pleased with the “kitten gets cuddles from everyone around” thing.
And, granted that you do everything you can to help your kitten grow happy and healthy, you’re bound to have a fluffy friend for life. Kittens that have spent most of their lives around humans tend to trust them more than other animals. But not when they haven’t been treated the right way (obviously).
2. They’re less likely to be scared and skittish around humans
“Shouldn’t such a tiny, teething kitten be scared of humans and human foods from the beginning? How can I earn her trust when she can’t even open her eyes to see me!?” We’ve warned you that taking care of a kitten would require a bunch of your effort, energy, and time. And, we weren’t messing with you.
Kittens whose mothers abandoned them at a young age ARE scared of humans, for the most part. Depending on how old they were when they were separated, most kittens don’t even realize that they’re not taken care of by their own mother.
As they grow up, they learn that humans are their family. Humans are the ones feeding them, cleaning them, playing with them, and doing everything that their mother would do. Actually, you are their mother to them. No wonder they aren’t scared or skittish around humans, right?
3. They’re more likely to be friendly with other kittens and cats
“Are hand-reared kittens more affectionate?” seems like a question geared toward humans. You’d assume that the humans asking this question wonders whether a hand-reared kitten would display more love and affection towards other humans. But, what’s the deal with other cats?
Wouldn’t a hand-reared kitten be more adverse towards other cats? Wouldn’t such a kitten become scared of other cats? While that might sound like a pawsibility, most little stinkers growing up around humans learn how to play with other kittens, too.
That’s because most humans do their best to provide their fluffy baby with an equally fluffy friend. In fact, playtime and other activities like that are ESSENTIAL for keeping your hand-reared kitten happy and healthy.
4. They’re easier to train
That’s right! Not only are hand-reared kittens more affectionate, but they’re also easier to train. These mischievous monsters spend most of their days hanging out with humans. They’re bound to pick up a trick or two, especially when you actually try to teach them something.
You and your hand-reared kitten might not speak the same language, but you’re guaranteed to understand each other purrfectly. Give her a chance – try to teach her how to use the toilet (that’s right, some cats prefer human toilets) or how to clean her paws before she enters the apartment.
With a little love and patience, you won’t regret checking what she can do!
5. They’re easier to bond with
Hand-reared kittens are completely dependent on their humans for everything – feeding, cleaning, playing, and pretty much every aspect of their little lives you can think of. They spend every second of their day with their humans. They can’t NOT bond with them sooner or later.
How many times have you heard a pet parent say “My cat’s my baby!” That’s pretty much what a hand-reared kitten becomes to her human. And, that’s what you can expect when you decide to take care of that mini-mouser that’s been abandoned by her mom.
Hand-rearing kittens the right way: How to make sure they turn out more affectionate?
Hand-reared kittens are more affectionate, but only when you help them grow up happy and healthy. When you don’t really know what you’re doing and don’t provide them with everything they need, you can’t really expect them to bond with you, can you?
There’s a right way and a wrong way of taking care of a kitten, and here’s what you need to do to give a wide berth to the latter. First things first, make sure your kitten feels warm, secure, and taken care of. Ensure she has a comfy bed to sleep in (that’s what she’ll be doing for the most part of the day, anyway).
Then, don’t forget to feed her REGULARLY. Kittens need to eat multiple times throughout the day. Use a bottle or a syringe and feed her with kitty formula (or a type of milk your vet approved).
Make sure she’s clean at all times and provide her with plenty of cuddles, hugs, and kisses. Give her as much love as you can, and trust me, she’ll the same thing sooner or later!