6 week old kittens

carmen_grower_2007June 23, 2010

I constantly see people giving kittens away at 6 weeks old. Now that I am experiencing a mom with her kits, I know for sure that my kittens (who are 6 weeks old) sure wouldn't be ready to leave their mom or their litter mates. In fact, I'm not sure they would be ready at 8 weeks.

They are nibbling kibble and drinking water and using the litter boxes but they still nurse several times a day and have lots to learn still from their mom and their siblings. They look like little gray rats running around and are like watching the Discovery Channel! They haven't even discovered the outdoors yet and their mom sure does have plenty to teach them about that new world.

Maybe our kittens are just slow but I would love to hear from you who have raised a litter of kitties.

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I've never raised a litter of kittens, but I got both my cats from the humane society at 8 weeks of age, and I agree that it was too soon. They both constantly tried to suckle on my earlobes!

Kittens and puppies really shouldn't go to homes sooner than 10 weeks, IMHO, and 12 weeks is probably even better (my father is a dog breeder, and none of his pups leave home before 12 weeks, and it's often much later.)

    Bookmark   June 23, 2010 at 2:04PM
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Yes you are correct is saying they need more time with mom and also they learn from siblings too. It is best to wait until about 8-9 weeks. Most cat breeders, good ones sometimes wait til 12 weeks, that's what it was for our last cat we got from a breeder (maine coon). They will be more confident and less scared. I agree, 6 weeks is just too young.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2010 at 2:33PM
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My mother took in a PG stray last summer (I've probably mentioned that on one of your threads before) and she went through that same dilemma of wondering when the kittens were ready.

She decided on a minimum of at least 8 weeks, but let it really depend on when the individual kittens were ready.

Around 8 weeks she found the mama was getting less tolerant of the kittens and the kittens were getting much more independent. We took our guy at 8 weeks, and two brothers went to the same home a few days later. Our guy got to come home to a relatively friendly older cat, so none of them were lonely.

A short time later, two of the remaining kittens got a little sick, so she took them to the vet. After having been away for just a few hours, the mama refused to have anything to do with them and became outright hostile. Her vet said that was not unusual. She had a home lined up for those two, so they went to their new home at that point.

The little guy who was the love of my life (passed away in 09 at age 15) could not have been more than 6 weeks old when we got him. He was definitely way too young. I think you will see a big jump in the next two weeks, and in each week after that. They grow up so quickly!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2010 at 3:33PM
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The breeder I got my Ragdolls from uses 12 weeks as a guideline, but she let me take my boy cat at 11 weeks because he was large, seemed ready, and he was driving her nuts (he was a biter, little pirahna teeth). I think my girl cat, same breeder different litter, was 11 weeks as well.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2010 at 6:11PM
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carmen, you have been in this forum a long time. I'm pretty sure you've read many posts here about giving dogs and cats away too early from weaning.

So I'll just reiterate that 6 weeks is way too young. You know this.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2010 at 2:32AM
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Sometimes we don't pay attention to posts that don't affect us personally. I have never raised a litter of kittens before and see them given away at 6 weeks often.

Thanks for your help in all questions.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2010 at 8:24AM
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The kittens are almost 9 weeks old now and still nursing about once a day. Vet says to take them away so we can have the mother spayed. She is much more interested in nursing them than they are about nursing. Since she is a indoor/outdoor cat, she could already be pregnant again so we can't take the chance. She will be spayed next week.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 1:04PM
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When you wean a kit from her mother has more than just nutritional impacts. It has some major social and behavioural impacts too. Kittens parted too early don't learn what they need to know about being normal cats that a human can't teach them but their mother can.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 2:40PM
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Carmen I've been a little harsh with you lately, but not intentionally (ok maybe a little intentionally). But you do ask good questions, regardless of whether we have different philosophies or differenet viewpoints.

However Calliope does make a good point. I do remember reading that weeks 6 to 8 are critical learning periods for animals - particular pack animals. Now this might apply more to dogs than cats, but cats also are "pride" animals.

Weeks 6 to 8 are where a lot of "social" pack/pride skills are learned. I.E. how to get along with a litter-mate... bite-pulling... play... etc. Also, during that period, they aren't just learning from the littermate, but the mother-- i.e. what hurts and what doesn't.. what is acceptable behavior. I think you are wise to reconsider 6 weeks and go for 8 if you are letting them go.

Also, you can safely neuter or spay a cat at 8 weeks and you can't ensure that at 6 -- it's too early.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 2:33AM
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If we decide to find homes for some of the kittens, it won't be until they are 12 weeks old. We are thinking we want to keep all four --- they are just having way too much fun together!

I hope being without their mommy for two days while she is being spayed won't bother them --- I have a feeling she will be bothered more than they will. She has to hunt them down to try to nurse them now and even if she can get one or two to nurse, it only lasts for a minute or two. They are ready to be weaned -- not sure mommy wants it to stop.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 8:35AM
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Boy, that's the exception. LOL. I have only had one queen who had an accidental litter of one kitten before I spayed her and she called the weaning shots. She couldn't wait to get that over with. Laughing again.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 11:00AM
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I know calliope!! Everyone has said that the mommy will reject them and then the weaning will happen. Not in this case! But then --- my daughter had a friend who was still nursing her 4 yr. old child. GROSS!!!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 3:59PM
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