We’ve started the socialization of Olivia—who was born in May of 2020 and has lived in isolation with us ever since. She knows other people only through the window, and she prefers them at a distance. A figure at the door is still quite terrifying for her.
Well, we’re ready to get out of the house. In fact, we’re starting to leave Olivia and her support cat, Sophie, for longer periods of time while we go out for groceries, meet someone for an outdoor lunch, etc. There are even some overnight trips in our future, and we want to prepare Olivia for our absence, so we’ve started a program of socialization. We’ve begun to coordinate visits from family members and neighbors in order to help Olivia begin to feel comfortable around people other than just us.
We started the process yesterday and it went smashingly well. A neighbor (our usual cat feeder) came over yesterday with treats and an interactive toy Olivia has never seen—something new! Nancy sat on the floor at Olivia’s level. Olivia came into the room cautiously and stayed because we didn’t put her under any stress through expectations. We just let her be in the room with us as Nancy and I chatted.
Occasionally Nancy would toss her a treat or speak to her. Olivia kept a suspicious eye on Nancy, but she’d move forward and eat the treat. Nancy continually wriggled the toy, which had Olivia’s eye. As Olivia became more relaxed, she moved closer—slowly closer, finally engaging in play with Nancy. We didn’t push Olivia. We let her establish her comfort level, and Nancy left on a high note—while Olivia was still interested in playing. Very well done, I’d say and a good model for our next visitor. Nancy will be back and continue to have good experiences with Olivia. In fact, Olivia jumped up onto her window perch to watch Nancy walk back around to her house.
A few days later, nine-year-old Emy came to play with Olivia and, as you can see, she was fairly cordial and curious.
So far so good in the socialization of Olivia.