Cats are some of the most fertile species in Kingdom Animalia.
Not only do they reach sexual maturity early (from four months old) but they get into estrus multiple times a year.
On average, a queen can get pregnant 3-4 times a year and will produce a mean litter size of four every single time. Some kitties can give birth to 12 kittens at once.
All this is to say that cats can surprise you with kittens you didn’t expect.
Perhaps you took too long to spay and now you have a bunch of kittens you hope to give away.
The question is: when is the right time to give kittens away? You want to make sure the kittens are well-developed and ready for life without you or their mother.
We will help you answer the question in detail.
The Danger of Giving Away Kittens Too Soon
The first few weeks of a kitten are more important than any other stage of her life. They develop more at this time, learn a ton from their mothers and siblings, and understand their environment.
What you do and what they do during the first weeks will go a long way in determining their personalities.
If a kitten leaves home too soon, she can have serious health and behavioral consequences down the line.
The colostrum and nutrients received from the mother’s milk help develop strong bones, better eye health, and general organ development.
When weaned too early, a kitten may have a higher risk of health issues later in life.
Health issues aside, a kitten may develop bad behaviors if she is ripped from momma too early.
Mother cats teach their young vital lessons in life that humans cannot mimic no matter how well they try.
Cats show their cats how to behave with other animals, hunt for food, play gently, bury their waste, groom themselves, and generally behave well.
If you give your kitty away before she learns these vital lessons, you make it hard for her to adjust to her new home.
She will also miss out on socialization with her brothers and sisters. Communication with other cats may be a real problem later on.
Related Post: Do Kittens Miss their Siblings?
When Is The Right Time To Give Kittens Away?
According to RSPCA, kittens are ready for purchase and adoption at 8 weeks of age.
Kittens are weaned by their mothers after a month or so. This is when they can start eating runny kitten food while still suckling before being completely weaned off at 7-8 weeks of age.
However, most shelters and breeders prefer to wait until the kitten is 10-12 weeks before putting them for adoption or sale respectively.
By this age, the kitten will have received her shots and boosters and has learned quite a lot from momma and her siblings.
She will have a better grasp of her environment, can socialize with other animals and people, and basically thrive on their own.
It may be wise to follow these guidelines when giving your kittens away. You give them a good foundation when you let them stay home with you and their mom for 12 weeks.
If possible, spay them to avoid further reproduction. If not, discuss with the receiver of the kitty about the same.
What If The Mother Cat Is Dead?
While most kittens have the privilege of enjoying their mothers’ company, others are not so lucky.
Some lose their mothers during childbirth. Others are downright neglected perhaps because mama has mastitis, is feeling overwhelmed, or for no reason at all.
Further, the mother cat may have been knocked down when crossing the road.
No matter the cause, you can take care of newborn kittens without the mom in the picture.
Caring for newborn kittens by yourself is a tall order but you can do it if you are committed.
First, you will need to bottle-feed the young with kitten milk replacement formula. This is close to the mother’s milk and will provide nutrients needed by the kitten.
Apart from feeding the kittens, you will also stimulate the young to excrete (wipe the anus with a damp cloth in gentle circular motions), offer warm blankets for warmth, limit human interactions, take the kittens to the vet for health checks and vaccinations.
As for giving them away, keep the minimum at 8 weeks. 12 weeks is even better after the kittens have been vaccinated, completely weaned, possibly spayed, and socialized.
Even if the momma cat is not around, you should make sure to release the kittens only when they are truly ready to adjust to a new home.
Kittens develop so fast. It can be tempting to think that because they are feeding well, using the litter box, and sleeping as they should, it must be the right time to give them away.
Not so. Do not be quick to release the little ones just yet.
Wait until they are 10-12 weeks old by which time they will be ready for the outside world.
Hi! I am Eleanor Price. I started this website after my cat, Louie, almost died from a case of botulism (a type of food poisoning often caused by bacteria that grow on food items). Turned out that my cat’s diet was the problem. I have made it my duty to provide the best information and recommendations about everything cat lovers need to know about their felines’ health and wellbeing. My goal is to find the most informative content on anything feline-related and share it with fellow hardworking kitty lovers.