Raising Super Cats: The Importance of Kitten Socialization

Room: St Laurent 6

Rebecca Lohnes, MS CDBC, ACCBC, Behaviour and Training Manager, Lollypop Farm, the Humane Society of Greater Rochester

By providing proper socialization to the kittens in your care, you will create well-adjusted feline citizens who are less likely to be rehomed later in life. We will discuss:  the science behind socialization, different types of socialization and how to accomplish them in your shelter or foster home, how to engage in low-stress handling and cooperative care, and even some basic manners training! We will also discuss the special needs of fearful or unsocialized kittens, singletons and bottle babies.


  1. What is the critical socialization period, and how can we use it to our advantage?
  2. What are the most important skills for kittens to learn right from the start?
  3. We will follow multiple case studies from Lollypop Farm Humane Society, a mid-sized, open-admission shelter in upstate New York, to illustrate the following concepts: passive versus active socialization, proper kitten play, desensitization and counter conditioning and clicker training.

Rebecca Lohnes has been the Behaviour and Training Manager at Lollypop Farm, the Humane Society of Greater Rochester, since 2011. She believes in using positive reinforcement and force-free methods to enhance the human-animal bond. She has degrees from Yale University (BSc 2005) and Cornell University (MSc 2010) and she is certified through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.