How Old Should Kittens be Before Going to New Homes

If you own a cat who has had kittens you might be wondering how old the kittens need to be before going to their new home. If you are looking to get a new kitten you might be wondering what age is the best to get a kitten. Here are some answers.

Weaning Age

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.

File:Four sleeping kittens.jpg

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).

Definitions

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.

Related Links

Should I Breed My Cat?

Care for a Pregnant Cat

What to do when Cats have Kittens

What Happens to Free Kittens

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This article has been republished here.

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User Comments
  1. ceegirl

    On November 29, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    great share

  2. Larry Fish

    On November 29, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    You said it all very well.
    Wonderful article.

  3. giritharanj

    On November 29, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    nice share – gj

  4. PSingh1990

    On November 29, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Nice Share.

    :-)

  5. RAJEEV BHARGAVA

    On November 29, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    this is really helpful and informative article. they do tend to feel alot of stress. let’s hope they all get lovely owners and happy homes. i also love the photo of the 3 sleeping kittens. thanks very much for sharing. beautiful work for you, Brenda. :)

  6. Darla Beck

    On November 29, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Great article with excellent advice! Thanks for sharing.

  7. N. Sun

    On November 29, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    I’m not really a cat person, or a dog person, unfortunately, but those look like some great tips

  8. Brenda Nelson

    On November 29, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    psst.. its actually four sleeping kittens.. they are NOT my kittens, I would NEVER allow my cats to breed – I use to work at an animal shelter we had to put down many excess animals every week.

  9. Ruby Hawk

    On November 29, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    brenda, these little guys are so cute, your advice is very good as usual.

  10. Anuradha Ramkumar

    On November 29, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    There is no match to you when it comes to pet related information. Gr8 share, Brenda.

  11. virdell1

    On November 29, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    Wonderful! I love cats and have two of them. Kittens need to be with their moms for as long as possible because of the reasons you mentioned. Thanks!!

  12. PR Mace

    On November 30, 2010 at 12:31 am

    I thought like dogs it was 8 weeks old. Good informative article.

  13. papaleng

    On November 30, 2010 at 2:28 am

    if only many of my countrymen will read your post, they will be educated well. It’s a pity that in our country, kittens are separated from their mother a week after birth ,at times, even if they hadn’t open their eyes. The reason, they hate more cats in the house.

  14. crisdiwata

    On November 30, 2010 at 3:43 am

    This is very informative. As papaleng said, here in our country kittens are separated from their mother after a week or worse just after birth. Very few take care of them properly since they want to get rid of them for they are very prolific.

  15. Jimmy Shilaho

    On November 30, 2010 at 7:52 am

    Thanks, I didn’t know this.

  16. albert1jemi

    On November 30, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    nice info

  17. Brenda Nelson

    On November 30, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    for puppies it is also 8 weeks of age, in some areas this is a law.

    for those who do not want more cats or kittens – the simple answer is spaying

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