While it may be hard to find peer-reviewed data on what we in the animal welfare industry call “single kitten syndrome,” anecdotally, we’ve all seen it time and time again. When a kitten is raised without littermates or a mom to teach how to interact with other cats and people appropriately, we have a lot more work to do as their human. Here are some important things to make sure you’re adding to your single kitten’s environment to help them thrive and interact with their world, and their people, appropriately.


Make sure that your little one has plenty of things to explore, investigate, and problem-solve in order to keep your kitten’s mind busy (and a busy mind is a tired body!), like:

  • Feeding puzzles
  • Cardboard box enrichment
  • New and fun scents and textures
  • Things to discover (think, hide and seek with catnip toys hidden in the pillows on the couch)


There’s never enough playtime for a kitten, especially when you’re their sole playmate. They need toys they can attack and chew, wrestle with, and safely destroy and “kill.” Remember to rotate toys to keep them fresh and new for your kitten.

Positive reinforcement and redirection

Make sure to reward your kitten for making good choices (playtime or food treats are wonderful positive reinforcements for kittens!), and always redirect into appropriate actions when they’re being “naughty.” Is your kitten climbing the arms of the couch with claws extended? Give kitty a scratching post next to the couch and reward them for using it! Remember, punishment may work in the moment, but you’re damaging your bond with your kitten and they’re most certainly still engaging in the activity when you’re not home… so positive reinforcement and redirection are much more effective and better in the long run!