Getting The Timing Right
The best time to bring home a kitten is when you have a day or two in your schedule to help her get used to her new home. Remember, leaving her mom and littermates is a big deal, so everything you can do to make her feel more comfortable will go a long way — that includes taking her home in a secure, cozy carrier that doesnt smell like another pet. A clean, soft towel will provide warmth and absorb any accidents your kitten might have. As a matter of fact, you should probably bring an extra towel along for just that reason!
Caring For Young Kittens And Their Moms
We strongly encourage everyone to have their cat spayed or neutered. This is the single most effective way to reduce the over population of felines in our community. If, however, you find yourself with a litter of kittens or have made the decision to care for a stray, please refer to the following information to help you care for your kittens until they are 8 weeks old the minimum age they can be away from their mom and/or littermates.
Mom will do most of the initial care, but you will need to frequently check on the babies to ensure the mother is caring for them and the kittens appear healthy.
A clean, warm, and dry place should be provided for moms and babies. A nesting box is essential for better health and survival. The nesting box should be:
- located in a quiet, secluded, warm, and draft-free area
- just tall enough to prevent the kittens from wandering away but low enough that mom can come and go easily
- large enough for the mom to comfortably lie away from the litter if she chooses, but small enough for the newborns to easily reach her
The bottom portion of a plastic dog or cat kennel works well as a nesting box and easily can be cleaned and disinfected.
A temperature-controlled, draft-free area is extremely important because a kitten’s body temperature can quicklydrop to dangerous levels. A few more tips for creating a quality nesting box:
- congenital defects
- altered respiration
Immediately contact your veterinarian If you notice any of these signs.
Tips For Separating A Cat From Their Mother
From 4 weeks of age your keep will begin weaning, this is when they will begin to transition into eating solid food. To learn more about this period, we encourage you to also check out our article on weaning kittens.
Nevertheless, during this period they will continue to need and depend on their mother. It’s not until they are 8 weeks old that they will begin to eat solid food exclusively and on a regular basis.
Once the kitten is two months old, we can offer them a variety of solid foods, combining wet and dry food. Learn more on our article about the best diet for cats. During these first months the kitten will also be learning valuable social skills by interacting with their care givers, siblings and mother.
Lastly, once the kitten is 12-13 weeks old, they will be ready to be adopted as they will not suffer any nutritional deficiencies nor psychological traumas. This is because by this age the both the mother and kitten will understand that they are now growing up and independent. With that being said, taking care of a kitten takes lots of time and patience as they require lots of attention. We encourage you to check out our article about caring for kittens to learn more.
As they grow, you’ll begin to litter train them, play with them and socialise them with new people, animals and different environments. Remember to also take them to the veterinarian for their regular check-ups and keep up with their vaccination schedule.
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Eight Weeks Twelve Weeks Thirteen Weeks
People often assume that once a kitten is able to eat solid food at around six weeks of age, they are able to be weaned and go to their new homes. However, this is to be discouraged, as the kitten will only just have started to get used to the new status quo, and should not be removed from the dam until they have reached the juvenile, rather than the baby stage of development.
Eight weeks is a common point at which non-pedigree kittens are taken away from the queen, but again, this is far from ideal, as kittens still have a lot of learning to do and can benefit from spending this very valuable stage of their lives with their queen and littermates, as there are lessons that only they can teach! Also, kittens should receive their first vaccinations prior to leaving their birth home, something that cannot be achieved at eight weeks old.
Twelve to thirteen weeks of age is the time that is almost universally considered to be the optimum earliest time to remove kittens from their queen, and by this age the kittens should be ready to go out into the world and begin the next stage of their learning development. However, the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy recommends that thirteen to fourteen weeks is even better, particularly in the case of foreign breeds of cat that are not native to the UK.
Depression In Mother Cats
When kittens are left to be with their mother until they are mature enough to leave, mother cats know instinctively that their kittens will be safe without her. This means she is less likely to become sad or depressed subsequently. If, on the other hand, the kittens are separated too soon, she could suffer from severe depression and search desperately for her kittens in and around the house. If kittens have to leave earlier than recommended, cat experts recommend that the kittens space and all it contains such as the blanket, cushions, and utensils are washed to remove their smell to quicken the mother cats recovery.
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Three Weeks Old Kitten
If you are bottle feeding, youll notice the kittens are drinking much more at each feeding, but at fewer feedings, probably four to five times a day. At this age you can start introducing solid fooduse wet food at first, and try mixing it with kitten formula. By the end of the week, their weight will have increased to close to 15 ounces. They are walking steadily, without too much wobbling.
Tweed is three weeks old!
What Are Some Tips To Encourage The Weaning Process
While weaning can be challenging, remember that kittens are young animals. Dont be surprised if your kitten wants to step in the bowl, bat the pieces, or spill the saucer. Play is a normal and healthy way for them to explore their environment, so be patient and dont rush the process. Things may get messy, so make sure to keep your kitten clean after each feeding.
Alley Cat Allies: Caring for Neonatal Kittens, How Old Is That Kitten? Kitten Guide: 3 Weeks,How Old Is That Kitten? Kitten Guide: 4 Weeks.
ASPCA: “Cat Nutrition Tips.”
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Helping The Mother Cat Manage Separation
Weeks: Weaning And Learning Cat Skills
Kittens can be introduced to solid food during their fifth week, although they’ll continue nursing for a few weeks after this. According to Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, some vets even recommend offering Mama Kitty the same kitten food while she’s nursing, since its high protein and fat content will help her recover and stay healthy. By the ninth week, your kittens will finish the transition to solid food and should be fed quality kitten food.
How much and how often they eat will depend on whether you feed them canned or dry food. Canned food should be given in small amounts four times daily until they are three months old, after which it should be cut back to three times a day, says the Cornell Feline Health Center. When kittens are six months old, you can transition them to eating twice a day. If you are giving them dry food, you can simply leave a dish of food out and allow kittens to free feed when they’re hungry, but in this case you’ll need to monitor their weight to make sure they’re not overeating.
In between eating and snuggling, kittens that are just a few weeks old are learning one important thing: how to act like a cat. The Spruce Pets notes that kittens need to be raised by their mother or a foster cat in order to learn the basics of hunting, kitty communication, playing with fellow cats and using a litter box.
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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.
Can Kittens Stay With Their Mother Forever
There was a time when owners would part kittens from their mothers at 6 weeks of age and pack them off to new homes.
Thankfully this practice is now rare as it is realized how important it is for kittens to be nurtured by their mothers for much longer. But how long will mother cats tolerate their kittens staying with them?
Kittens can stay in the same home as their mother into adulthood. However, dont expect her to behave like their mother forever. After it is fully weaned, the queen will gradually withdraw her mothering services and the kitten will become an independent cat.
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How Do Mother Cats View Their Grown
Once they are adults, a mother cat feels the same way about her kittens as she does any other adult cat. They become seen and treated as any other household cats.
Two unrelated cats living under the same roof sometimes just tolerate each other and other times seem quite friendly. They share common areas such as eating places and litter boxes but often have what they consider their own areas in your home.
You may spot them cuddled up together some days and then acting quite indifferently and even spitefully to each other on other days. It all very much depends on each cats nature.
Even two related cats can behave in this way. Lots depend on the way the cats are socialized and on the fact that every cat has a unique personality.
A mother and kitten are well-bonded so after the memory of the familial relationship has faded away, the comfort and friendship of each others company usually lasts forever.
Even so, this depends on their personalities. Like any parent-child relationship, things can, unfortunately, turn sour, though this seldom happens with cats raised by a loving owner.
Can Kittens Leave At 6 Weeks
On a side note, kittens are not to be fed cowâs milk or any sort of milk that are not specifically designed for kitten consumption.
After a full month, mama cat will actually start weaning her kittens by limiting their nursing time. At this time, they are encouraged to start eating liquid kitten food as well as momâs milk.
Aside from being a food source for her kittens, mama cat will actually teach her kittens to be proper, well-mannered cats. Kittens separated from their moms too early are observed to develop behavioral issues as they grow up.
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What Happens If A Kitten Is Removed From Its Mother Too Early
When kittens are separated too soon from their mothers, it can come with some serious consequences. Above, I mentioned colostrum and lactation milk and their benefits for overall development. The nutrients in these milk types are responsible for eye health, bone development, and organ development amongst others. This, therefore, means that kittens become prone to health issues in the future if they are removed too soon from their mothers.
Aside from the health concerns, kittens that are separated too quickly may also develop behavioral issues. Mother cats naturally set their kittens straight by teaching them lasting lessons. They also give off calming pheromones.
When separated early, kittens may develop undesirable behaviors such as poor littering habits, poor self-grooming, and aggressiveness. They also may lack hunting skills required for survival outdoors.
Felines taken too early from their moms may also find it difficult to adjust to their new homes resulting in extreme timidity or shyness. The cat may also lack the skills required to communicate with the other cats and pets in the home.
How Do I Teach A Kitten To Eat Solid Food
IOnce a kitten has started trying to eat mom’s food, the process of offering them mushy food can begin.
f you are weaning an orphaned or fostered kitten, plan on serving the kitten milk and food in a shallow saucer or bowl. Dont use cows milk, which can cause an upset stomach and diarrhea in some kittens. Instead, use kitten formula.
Gradually mix the formula with wet food and encourage the kitten to eat it on their own. The next step is to adjust the ratio of formula to wet food until the mixture is primarily wet food. Next, mix formula with dry food and repeat the process.
Remember to always provide your kitten with fresh water.
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How Soon Should Kittens Leave Their Mothers
While you probably dont want to bring an older cat home if you are looking for a long-term pet, you also do not want to bring home a kitten too early as this can do more harm than good to the cat.
When is the right time?
At around the fourth week, feline mothers will naturally begin to wean their kittens. Even at that stage it is still too early to bring home the kitten. This is because the weaning process can take another 4 to 6 weeks. During this time, even though liquid formulas may have been introduced, the young kittens will still latch onto their mother occasionally.
Wait For The Mother Cat To Return
You want to help, and your first impulse may be to swoop up the tiny kittens and bring them straight to a shelter. However, a mother cat will periodically leave her nest to hunt for food.
If you see young kittens without their mother, it is likely she will return. The mother should return to the nest within a few hours- if you watch quietly from a distance .
- Sprinkle flour or baby powder around the nest to see the paw prints of a mother cat who may be coming and going from her kittens. Check it throughout the day.
- Dont put food by the kittens: Do NOT place food near the kittens to lure mom. Mom almost always purposely hides her litter away from food sources as she knows that food will attract other cats and even bigger predators!
- If the kittens appear healthy and comfortable, you can safely wait 4-6 hours for a mom to return if the kittens are six weeks and under.
Assess the kittens apparent health
While you are observing from a safe distance, pay attention to the kittens appearance and their surroundings. If the kittens appear healthy, and in a relatively safe location, they can survive without mom longer than if they are sickly, and in the middle of a muddy yard.
- Does their fur look healthy, full and fluffy? OR Are they dirty? Sickly? Eyes crusty?
- Are they sleeping quietly? In a heap? OR Are they crying? Squalling?
- Are they dry? OR Are they wet/soaked?
Assess the environment
Are the kittens in IMMEDIATE danger from:
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