Separating kittens from their mother may seem like a heartbreaking process. However, time takes care of most of the process. As the kittens grow and get their milk teeth, the mother nurses less and the kittens begin to eat solid food. As the kittens continue to grow, the mother will completely wean them and they will become more independent--making the process of the complete separation easier. While nature takes its natural course during this process, there are steps you can perform that will make it easier to take the kittens from the mother when the babies are adopted.
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Things you need
- Kitten food
Begin offering the kittens solid food when they are about 4 weeks of age. You will know it is time when you see the mother discouraging them from nursing at times. Offer canned foods, semi-moist foods or dry kitten food moistened with water.
Remove the kittens from their mother during feeding times, letting the kittens spend about 30 minutes at a time--a few times a day--trying out the solid food.
Begin gently handling the kittens at 4 weeks of age, socialising them to people and increasing their chances for a successful adoption.
Separate the kittens from their mother for a couple hours at a time, beginning a couple weeks after the kittens first sample solid food.
Increase the length of the time the kittens are away from their mother gradually over the next few weeks. Ensure the kittens have plenty of positive interaction with people during these times.
Make the kittens available for adoption at 12 weeks of age.
Tips and warnings
- There are some dangers associated with making pets available as "free to a good home." The best way to adopt out your kittens is to have them spayed/neutered before releasing them to their new homes. With paediatric spay/neuter becoming common, most veterinary clinics will alter kittens once they weigh two pounds. Charge the adopter an adoption fee that covers the cost of the surgery and the kittens' first set of vaccinations.
- There are thousands of cats--including purebred cats--killed in animal shelters every year because there aren't enough homes for them all. As soon as the kittens are weaned, have the mother cat spayed. Cats can come back into heat and get pregnant within weeks of giving birth.
- Permanently separating kittens from their mother when the kittens are younger than 12 weeks of age can result in the kitten not being normally socialised and being unable to form normal bonds. Even though the kittens may be weaned completely from the mother's milk several weeks earlier, the remaining time allows the mother to teach the kittens social skills, to use a litter box and to play.
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