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Blog: The best age for a new kitten to be introduced to your home?

Weaning kittens from their mum too early could leave them at risk of disease.

Moray Cats Protection
© mcp

It has been another busy week at Moray Cats Protection where we have even taken in a cat that was abandoned eight years ago.

His owners abandoned him when they moved and the neighbours have looked out for him ever since. One of the neighbours let him in when the weather was bad, but her own cats weren’t impressed, so she couldn’t keep him. Bruno is a light coloured tabby cat, very affectionate.

This reminded me of last week’s blog about how people help us by looking after strays in the community.

This week I’d like to write about the subject of kittens and when they should be rehomed. I was asked for advice recently by someone who had got a kitten at six weeks. I felt this was too young, so did some research into what the best age is to rehome kittens.

There are various factors that may need to be taken into consideration.

Kittens receive antibodies through their mother’s milk which protects them from infections until they are six to ten weeks old. Vaccines can be given at eight to nine weeks old.

This means if the kittens are weaned between six and eight weeks, they can be at risk of disease between this age and getting their first vaccination. This is a good reason for keeping kittens with their mum until they are eight weeks.

On the other hand, the experiences that a kitten has in its first two months can affect how it turns out as a cat.

This is called the socialisation period, where the kitten is like a sponge. If they experience dogs, vacuum cleaners, children etc in this period, they are more likely to accept these experiences as normal later in life.

Conversely, what they don’t experience can frighten them as adults. So if the kittens are rehomed at six weeks and go to a home with dogs and children, they will adapt more easily as they are open to these experiences.

It is a balance where the existing conditions the kitten is growing up in can be the deciding factor. If the queen (the mum cat) is stressed perhaps by being in a rescue centre, it would make sense to rehome the kittens earlier rather than later.

If however the queen is content and the kittens are exposed to a variety of experiences, they would benefit from staying with their siblings and mother until they are nine to ten weeks old. It may be that some kittens are bolder and those ones might be better rehomed early.

So as you can see, there is no right answer but the timing can influence the cat’s character.

Jane Lax is a volunteer with the Moray branch of Cats Protection.

For more information on giving a Cats Protection cat a home, making a donation to help the charity or volunteering to help continue our vital cat welfare work in Moray, please contact the branch on 07837 342 646. More information about the branch can be found at Moray Cats Protection.

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