Kittens should never be weaned before 6 weeks of age. Eight weeks is better because it allows the kittens to learn basic interaction skills. If an emergency occurs in which the mother cannot raise her kittens before they are six weeks old they should be cared for as orphans. If they are younger than five weeks of age this means they should have special Kitten Milk Replacer (not cows milk). These kittens should not leave their home until they are older.
At Six Weeks
Many owners are in a rush to “get rid of” their cats kittens and offer them to new homes at six weeks of age. While this can be done it is not the ideal. As mentioned kittens benefit from the extra two weeks of socialization. At six weeks their stomach is easily upset, not only from different food, but different water too, and the stress of losing their mother and being in an new home can open them up for health risks. Even if they are vaccinated before going to their new home, this is not a guaranteed protection.
At Seven Weeks
Seven weeks is an okay age to rehome kittens, provided they have been vaccinated, and vet checked previously.
Eight weeks is the ideal age, the kittens are more robust, able to go longer without using the litter, able to find their litter box a bit better, and still cute enough to be desirable.
By Eli Duke (kittens spooning) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)],
Vaccinations, Vet Check, and Deworming
Although many kittens are “given away” without proper vaccinations or a veterinarian check up, nobody should ever pay for a kitten without such, nor should anyone who already owns a cat bring home a kitten that is not vaccinated, and wormed.
Vaccinations help protect a kitten from illness, and are not effective right away, in fact it takes a few days before they are effective, and even then should be boostered. At least if the kitten is vaccinated a few days before it goes to its new home, it has some protection.
If you are thinking of getting a kitten, never pay for one that has not been vaccinated, vet checked, and dewormed (and come with veterinarian papers to say so). If you are getting rid of kittens, and want to give them a good start, have them vaccinated, and so forth, then charge the same amount for the kittens. You may find people expect kittens to be “Free” but if they are unwilling to pay the same that it would cost them for the vet care, then it is pretty apparent they are not a “good” home anyhow.
Proper Order of Things
The proper way things should go is that the kittens stay with their mother until about 8 weeks of age, by this time they will be eating dry food and using their litter box. Between seven and eight weeks of age the kittens should be taken to a veterinarian for a vet check, vaccination, and to be wormed. Home checks will be made to be sure the potential new owners are “good owners”. Then, after two or three days, they can be rehomed (sold or adopted – it is never safe to give them free). The mother cat is fed low quality cat food for a day or two to help her milk dry up, and things go on as normal (hopefully mother cat is soon spayed).
Weaning – Removing the kittens from the mother, or visa versa.
Lactating – A nursing cat.
Queen – Mother cat.
Kitten – Cat under one year of age.
Adoption – The process of rehoming kittens through an accredited animal shelter, involves contracts, and is not for profit.
Sale – Any transaction with a price tag other than those by an animal shelter.
Rehoming Fee – Other name for price tag.
Vaccinations – Shots given to protect the cat/kitten from diseases, require an additional shot (a booster) to become truly effective.
Deworming – Medication to get rid of some types of worms.
Vet Check – The heart and lungs are listened to, ears are checked for ear mites, a general wellness test is done.
Spaying – Surgical procedure to prevent the female cat from going into heat or becoming pregnant.
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This article has been republished here.