How Old Should a Kitten Be?

How Old Does My Kitten Have to Be?

Kitten | Kittens | Litter of Kittens | Ask Me About Cats

Kittens should be about four months old when they leave mom

At what age can you bring a kitten into your household?   Unlike dogs that usually go to to a new home at 6 weeks old, the feline companion has more complex needs.  Responsible pedigree cat breeders will stave off selling a kitten until it has reached four months of age.  Why is this?

Kittens and Immunity

Although kittens may nurse for months, even after being weaned to solid foods, the first few weeks are critical to the long-term health of the kitten.  The kitten receives immunity to diseases from its mother through the colostrum in her milk. The kitten needs the first few weeks of life nursing from Mom to gain the nutrients and immunity the dam’s milk provides.  It is essential as the kitten is born without the protection to ward off bacteria and germs of its surroundings.  After those first weeks of life, the kitten must develop its own immune system.  This can take up to 3 months, depending on each kitten.

 

Learning to Be a Good Kitten

Kitten | Kittens | Litter of Kittens | Ask Me About Cats

Kittens get immunity from mom for the first couple weeks

There is a second, just as important factor in allowing the kitten to develop during this period.  The kitten needs this time to learn to socialize.  Kittens need to learn boundaries from Mom and how to interact with other felines.  The kitten learns how far it can roughhouse with its siblings, how much playtime Mom will allow, and where and when to learn to care for itself in the  grown up world.  The kitten also learns to use the litter box by watching Mom, learns to groom itself, and learns discipline when behavior is not acceptable.  Without these tools the kitten may not be a socially acceptable pet.

 

Evaluating Show Kittens

For the show household, breeders will often use this time to evaluate the potential for each kitten to determine which, if any, of the kittens might be good show candidates. As the kittens type changes quite a bit in the first few months, breeders will watch the kittens to see if any develop the traits favorable for a show quality cat.  Some kittens may take a full four months to develop these qualities.
Images (c) Can Stock Photo

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