Why Should Pet Owners Wait Until The Kitten Is Older
Many new cat owners are keen to get their kitten as soon as possible, and as early as possible. After all, who doesnt love a tiny little ball of fluff? However, adopting a kitten who is too young can have consequences that may last throughout the cats life.
- Kittens need their mother and littermates to teach them manners. As kittens will play with mum and their siblings, they learn cat socialisation skills. Picking up body language, boundaries and playing skills from the other cats.
- Kittens need time to build up a strong immune system. Mums milk is full of antibodies that help to protect your kitten from disease. Even after the kitten has started solids, he is still nursing from mum and getting the benefits of these antibodies.
- Kittens should not leave their home until they have had their vaccinations.
- Most breeders and cat shelters spay or neuter a kitten before it leaves for its new home. With shelters bursting at the seams with unwanted cats, taking this approach is the responsible way. Purebred breeders do not generally sell un-desexed cats unless you are a registered breeder.
What Happens If I Adopt A Cat Younger Than Ten Weeks
Possibly nothing, but it is not uncommon for a kitten who has been taken away from mum and adopted out too early to develop behavioural problems.
I adopted a very sad and lonely looking kitten at the age of 6 weeks who had behavioural problems his entire life. He had no idea how to socialise with other cats and was aggressive towards other household cats he also had a time limit on how long he could be petted by humans. After a while I learned to read his body language and could avoid an attack , however many guests didnt listen to my warnings and would rush in, stroke him and end up with a bloodied hand. He also sprayed his entire life and he never really took to people or cats.
What Happens When A Kitten Is Removed From Its Mother Too Soon
If a kitten is taken from its mother and sent to a new home too soon, there can be some serious health consequences. The first few weeks of a kitten’s life are essential for its health and body development. The colostrum and nutrients in the mother’s milk are responsible for strong bone development, eye health, and full organ development, so if a kitten is weaned too soon, you could be increasing the risk of your cat developing more health issues later on. A kitten removed from its mother too soon may need nutritional supplementation and other veterinary care early on in life.
In addition to health concerns, behavioral issues can arise in kittens who were removed from their mothers too early in life. Mother cats teach their kittens’ lifelong lessons and give off calming pheromones. Kittens who left their mothers too soon may have trouble grooming themselves, not know how to bury their waste in the litter box, play too rough, not know how to hunt for food, or have other behavioral problems.
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What To Feed Kittens
Growing kitties need a healthy diet, so stock up on a brand-name kitten or cat food. If youre not sure which type to pick, ask your veterinarian for a recommendation.
Kittens also go crazy for cat treats but dont go overboard since treats can contain a lot of fat and sugar. You can also offer your kitten healthy pet-safe fruits and veggies. Be sure to cut them up into small bits or cook them until theyre soft to help avoid choking.
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Can Kittens Drink Milk
Itâs a little-known fact that most cats are actually lactose intolerant. While drinking milk is so beneficial for the growth of kittens, they should ONLY be drinking milk from their moms or kitten milk replacer. You may also hear some people recommending goatâs milk â but vets will say otherwise. To be safe, just stick to kitten milk.
Just like humans, kittens need their moms not just for sustenance and comfort but also as their first teacher. If it can be avoided, please donât separate mama cat from her kittens until at least they are 8 weeks old, but preferably older.
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When You Visit The Kitten
Before committing yourself, always visit the kitten and meet its mother in the place it was bred. They should stay with their mothers until they’re around 8-9 weeks .
A kitten should be sociable and alert, with bright eyes and no visible health problems. Work through our Kitten Checklist to help you remember what to look out for and ask, such as:
- Can you see the kitten with his/her mother?
- Is the mother healthy? Friendly?
- Are there many other cats or litters of kittens in the home?
- Is the kitten’s environment clean?
- Does the kitten look healthy?
It’s worth bearing in mind that purebred cats can be more prone to health problems. In addition, don’t buy a kitten younger than six months old from anyone other than the breeder. Not only is it illegal, it’s a warning sign that the kitten could be illegally farmed.
Consider How Young Of A Kitten You Want
When choosing a kitten, consider whether you’d prefer a newborn or slightly older kitty.
Adopting a newborn kitten requires a considerable amount of time and attention but can be a very rewarding experience. However, most kittens won’t be ready for adoption until they’re around 8-12 weeks old, after they’ve been weaned and litter-trained. The reason for this is that they are still gaining from the benefits of nursing from their mothers and socializing with the rest of their litter mates.
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Beware Of Backyard Breeders And Pet Shops
Backyard breeders are not professionals rather, they are people with little knowledge of cat breeding issues, such as the need to screen for genetic problems that may afflict certain breeds. In addition to increasing the risk that kittens will suffer from horrendous genetic defects and illnesses, backyard breeders often dont know how to properly socialize kittens, and they tend to adopt them out too young, which can lead to a lifetime of physical and psychological problems. Backyard breeders can usually be recognized by their failure to register their kittens, keep them until at least 12 weeks of age, or participate in cat shows.
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Problems With Early Adoption
Kittens that are taken away from their mothers too early can suffer from a variety of psychological and health problems because they miss out on critical emotional, mental, and developmental milestones that occur at 6-12 weeks of age. The following are some common problems afflicting kittens that are adopted before 12 weeks of age.
Poor Immunity: A kittens immune system develops between 8 and 12 weeks, and a kitten less than 12 weeks old has not received its full set of required vaccinations. A mother cats milk provides antibodies that protect the health of her kittens.
If they are prevented from nursing before their immune systems have become strong, kittens are more likely to succumb to a wide variety of illnesses, particularly respiratory conditions.
Rushed Weaning: Kittens shouldnt be weaned suddenly. Rather, weaning should be a gradual process in which they alternate between nursing and eating cat food, slowly increasing the amount of cat food consumed and decreasing the nursing time until nursing ceases altogether.
At 6-8 weeks of age, kittens are not ready to stop nursing. Usually, a mother cat will begin denying opportunities to nurse between 8 and 12 weeks of age, and thus the kitten learns to deal with frustration in a natural way. Kittens that are taken from their mothers too soon miss out on this natural process and are more inclined to develop behavioral problems as a result of low frustration tolerance later on.
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Is It Expensive To Foster
Veterinary care is usually provided when fostering through an animal shelter or rescue group, and many groups also provide some or all of the supplies needed to feed and care for the animals. Do your research and chat with your local organization in advance to determine your total out-of-pocket costyou may be pleasantly surprised! If you do have to cover some of the expenses, its easy to set up an Amazon Wishlist and ask your friends and coworkers to pitch in.
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Do Kittens Miss Their Siblings
a) Kittens who have been separated during the early weeks of life will forget each other. Young kittens often miss their mom and siblings and show signs of separation anxiety after being taken into the new home. … And once this happens, they typically forget their mom, brothers and sisters and adopt their new family.
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Why Cant I Bring The Kittens And Their Mother Indoors
Even if your home is very nice, a mother cat may become so stressed by being confined in the new environment that it impacts her health and her ability to care for her kittens. Community cats thrive in their outdoor home and the mother cat has likely chosen an ideal space to raise her kittens, so there is no need to intervene.
When Can Kittens Be Adopted Heres How To Know When To Bring A Kitten Home
Many creatures need the care and support of their mothers in their earliest weeks, and cats are no exception. At most shelters and rescues, kittens can be adopted starting at 8 weeks. Breeders will often wait until the kitten has been with their mother for at least 12 weeks, with many breeders waiting until 14 weeks.
Thats because there are many perks to sticking around their furry family members. One of the biggest: socialization. When kittens stay with their mother and other littermates, they learn how to play appropriately and how to communicate with other cats, says Bruce Kornreich, Ph.D., DVM, DACVIM, director of Cornell Feline Health Center at Cornell Universitys College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca, New York.
In other words, this is how cats learn to be a cat. For instance, mothers and littermates help teach their kittens the difference between a hard bite and a soft one. If a kitten bites their littermates, a lot of times their littermates squeal or meow, and then they run off, says Marci L. Koski, Ph.D., a certified feline behavior and training consultant and owner of Feline Behavior Solutions in Vancouver, Washington. Thats a lesson: OK, I cant bite that hard or when I do this with my claws, it hurts. Mother cats will also walk away when their kittens play too rough.
Kittens also pick up other valuable behaviors from their momhow to bury their waste, how to hunt for prey and how to groom themselves, Koski says.
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Kitten Adoption & Kitten Socialization
Dog people know about the socialization of puppies, but kittens also benefit from socializationexcept it comes WAY EARLIER in cat babies. The prime kitten socialization period falls between 2-7 weeks which means rescuers, shelter personnel and breeders are vital to the future well-being of cats and how they look at their world. Socialization teaches kittens whats safe and a positive normal part of their lives. It also teaches what kittens should fear.
Proper socialization not only includes interaction with other cats but positive handling by different people during this critical period. That ensures the baby becomes well adjusted, confident, and emotionally healthy. Ive got all the kitten must-knows in my COMPLETE KITTEN CARE, but you dont need the book to get started. Before you adopt, review these 10 dos and donts to ensure your kitten love lasts a lifetime.
Image courtesy of DepositPhotos.com
How Much To Feed A Kitten
You should talk to your veterinarian about your particular kittens nutritional requirements. Some cat parents prefer to keep dry food out for their felines to nosh on whenever they like, while others prefer to give meals at specific times. For set meal times, you can follow these guidelines:
- Little kittens 6 to 12 weeks old: 4 meals a day
- Older kittens 3 to 6 months old: 3 meals a day
- Adult cats: 2 meals a day around 8 hours apart
Any canned food leftover in your cats bowl should be thrown out after about 30 minutes. Also, make sure your kitten has plenty of fresh water on hand around the clock.
If you have a kitten who is snubbing the food bowl or not eating enough, you can ask your veterinarian for tips on managing the situation. They may suggest offering your finicky friend chicken or turkey baby food for a little while or adding warm water to the kitten food.
Keep in mind that loss of appetite can indicate an illness. Cats and kittens may mask or hide symptoms, so its good to be on the lookout for this and other signs your cat is sick. Contact your veterinarian if you notice anything concerning.
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Supplies You Will Need For Newborns And Young Kittens:
- Kitten formula such as Just Born or KMR . The liquid formula is best to use if you are not sure what to do.
- Feeding bottles and several nipples .
- Eye dropper or syringe in case the kitten will not eat from the bottle.
- Several bath towels for bedding and cleaning kittens.
- Kitchen food scale for weighing kittens .
- Digital rectal thermometer
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Whats The Best Way To Wean Kittens
Most experts suggest not starting to wean your kittens until they are at least 4 weeks of age.
- Weeks 4 to 5: Start by giving either wet or moistened dry food. Next, mix this with formula to form a lovely slush.
- Weeks 5 to 6: Give your weaning kittens the kibble for them to start to nibble on. The key is to slightly moisten with water the kibble with water.
- Weeks 6 to 7: The kitten weaning process should now be complete. By the end of week 7 your kittens should be eating all solid food.
- Weeks 8 to 10: Most kittens are completely weaned by the time they are between 8 to 10 weeks of age.
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What Is Normal Kitten Behavior
Kittens normally play with their littermates, chasing and pouncing and wrestling and biting and scratching. … When playing with their littermates, kittens learn how to hold back on the intensity of their biting and scratching, because when they get too rough, the other kitten either retaliates or quits playing.
How Do Cats Come Into Season
Cats can become sexually mature from just four months old which is why it is so important to get cats neutered at this age, to prevent them from becoming pregnant with unwanted litters. From four months, cats will experience heat cycles with active signs such as restlessness and calling, lasting a couple of days and reoccurring every few weeks during the breeding season.
A cat coming into season can vary depending on the region and the climate of that given year. Cats coming into heat is often due to the increased daylight hours of the spring and summer. This signals warmer weather thus more availability of food for the mother to provide for herself and her kittens.
Females in season will seek out a mate during this period, with unneutered males already on the search. If there is more than one male in the vicinity, the female can mate more than once in a day. This gives her a higher chance of reproductive success and can mean her litter has several different fathers.
A cats short reproduction cycle, with pregnancy only lasting for nine weeks, and females coming back into season just six weeks after giving birth, means there is the potential for a vast number of kittens being born in a brief period. And, as cats can have litters of up to nine kittens at one time , the number of cats and kittens needing homes can reach crisis levels in the summer months.
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When Should A Kitten Be Weaned
Waiting for a kitten to be completely weaned and spend some time with their mother and littermates is very important. Not only do they need the antibodies from the milk to stay healthy and protected until they get all of their vaccines, but it is also beneficial in developing their socialization skills.
Kittens are weaned by two months of age, but letting them stay a bit longer, maybe closer to three months, with their littermates can really help them be more sociable. Their mother will also get a chance to correct unwanted behavior like playing too roughly with their siblings or being protective of food and toys.
Connie Monico, In-House Veterinary Technician, The Dog Adventure
What To Do With Stray Kittens
While these steps are easy to take when dealing with a breeder or adopting from a shelter, what can you do when you find a stray kitten? Here are a few steps you can take to help give the kitten his best chance at survival and a happy, healthy life:
- Examine your surroundings. Just because you see a kitten or litter of kittens alone doesnt always mean the mother has abandoned them. She is most likely out looking for food. If the kittens are in a safe place, keep your distance and take note of any signs of malnourishment, neglect, or danger:
- Do they appear to be well-fed?
- Is their fur matted and dirty?
- Are they in a safe, dry environment away from any roadways or predators?
Here at Pleasant Plains Animal Hospital, we take pride in educating our clients on how to best care for their pets and the animals with which they may come in contact. For more information or for a list of resources for helping stray kittens, contact us today.
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