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How Soon can Kittens Leave their Mother?

 
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. August 27, 2017
How Soon can Kittens Leave their Mother?

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Before separating a kitten from their mother, we must consider some details that are of paramount importance for the correct physical and psychological development of the feline. Separating them promptly can lead to the appearance of behavioral problems and even serious nutritional deficiencies.

Although an exact date does not exist, a kitten is usually separated from their mother around 8 or 12 weeks of age, an age that can vary according to the specific case.

In this AnimalWised article we will explain why it is so important to respect this time, we will help you identify the appropriate time and explain how to carry out the process. Read on and find out how soon kittens can leave their mother.

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Why should not we separate a kitten prematurely?

To truly understand why it is not good to separate a kitten from their mother soon too, it is essential to review some basic aspects of a feline's growth:

Breastfeeding kittens, essential for proper development

Just after the birth of the litter, during the first two or three days, the mother will breastfeed her first milk, colostrum. It is imperative that any kitten receives this because, in addition to nourishing them abundantly, colostrum provides immunoglobulins, immune defenses that will protect them from infection.

After this time, the cat will feed them with lactation milk, a source rich in nutrients and that will also offer some immunity to minimize the risk of infections. In addition, it also provides hormones, enzymes and other essential substances for their growth.

Every kitten should be fed with the milk produced by their mother, except in very specific cases, such as rejection, death or a disease of the mother that prevents her from caring for them. Only in these cases should we feed a kitten, always after consulting your vet.

The importance of kitten socialization

From the second week of life and up to approximately two months, the kitten is mature enough to start exploring their environment and starting their first social relationships. The kitten is in a full " sensitive period of socialization".

During this stage, the cat learns to relate to members of their species, dogs, humans, the environment and, ultimately, any external stimulus that is going to be around in their adult life. A well socialized cat will be sociable, friendly and will feel secure in their future environment, will be able to relate to all kinds of living beings and will not develop future behavior problems, such as aggressiveness, excessive shyness or others.

How Soon can Kittens Leave their Mother? - Why should not we separate a kitten prematurely?

Tips to separate a cat from their its mother

From 4 weeks, and progressively, we should encourage our kitten to start weaning. For this we will offer small portions of soft food, such as wet food that comes prepared in small pieces of meat or fish as well as pâté. You can find many cans for kittens on the market.

During this stage they still depend on their mother, and it will not be until 8 weeks of life when they will begin to feed on this type of food on a regular basis.

When the cat reaches two months of life, we will begin offering various daily rations of food, combining wet food and dry food. To ensure that they can ingest it, we can soak the fish in saltless fish broth, which will provide them with extra nutrition and flavor and will allow them to eat without difficulty.

Finally, around 12 weeks, the mother can continue breastfeeding the kittens, but it is the appropriate time for them to start eating on their own, weaning them completely. At this time we will be sure that our cat will not suffer any nutritional deficiencies.

At this time and to ensure a good adaptation to their future home, it would be advisable to teach the kittens to use the litterbox, as well as teach them to use a scratching post. Everything they can learn, including games and various activities, will be positive for their mental stimulation and future suitability.

The separation of the kitten and its mother

Although they are weaned, we cannot separate the kittens from their mother in a radical way since they could suffer from mastitis, an infection of the breasts by the accumulation of milk. We must carry out the separation progressively, that is, separating the kittens one by one from their mother.

In principle, if we wait until 12 weeks of age, the mother will instinctively know that her kittens are independent and that they can survive, so it will be strange to suffer an episode of sadness. However, if we separate them prematurely, we may face severe depression in our cat. She will likely search for the kittens desperately around her home. In these cases it will be highly recommended to wash the "nest" of the cat, as well as all utensils, blankets and cushions that can harbor their smell.

How Soon can Kittens Leave their Mother? - Tips to separate a cat from their its mother

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