What happens if you take a kitten from its mother too early?

What happens if you take a kitten away from its mother too early

Just like humans, kittens rely heavily on their moms.    If you didn’t know this already, kittens are supposed to stay with their mothers for at least 8 weeks.  12-16 weeks is preferable if it is possible to wait that long. 

In fact, depending on how young they are when they get separated, it can be extremely hard for them to survive and grow up to become well-adjusted cats – even when they have you to take care of them.

When kittens are separated from their mom too early

Kittens who are separated from their moms too early, either due to the mom’s untimely death, abandonment, or an over-eager adoption, are deprived of the vital nutrients they need that they can only get from their mother’s milk. This is especially true for less than two months old kittens.

 If this is the case, the best thing you can do for the kitten is to find a mama cat who is willing to them in. If this isn’t possible, the kitten must be bottle-fed with milk specifically designed for kittens.

It must be noted that any other kind of milk – including cow milk – is not suitable for kittens because most cats are actually lactose intolerant.  Still, even with the right kind of formula milk, it pales in comparison to what mama cat has to offer.  Kittens fed with mostly or only formula milk may not get enough antibodies they may get otherwise.  This will stunt their growth and potentially be more prone to illness.

It’s not all about the nutrients they’re missing out on though.  As pet owners, having a well-adjusted cat is key to having a great home life.  Same as how our parents were our first teachers in life, kittens depend on their moms to be their teachers.  Mama cats (and their littermates) teach their kittens how the world works and how they should behave.

Kittens who didn’t grow up with their mom or siblings won’t know when they’re taking things too far.  What may feel like just playing for them could be bloody scratches and bites for you.

Early socialization that kittens can understand is very vital.  The reason why they just won’t learn the social skills from you two simply don’t speak the same language to begin with.  If a kitten loses their mom too early, they may develop poor learning skills.  This is especially true for kittens who have been separated from their moms or siblings in the first two weeks of their lives.  Cats who haven’t been properly socialized at an early age may become shy or even fearful of other animals – including humans.

Other than lacking some basic cat life skills, like how to clean themselves and how to use the litter box, kittens taken away from their moms too early may develop inappropriate behaviors like suckling on pillows or blankets.  This is a typical sign that a cat was weaned too early.  While not usually life threatening, unless if the cat ingests whatever it is they’re suckling, it can be annoying.  If you notice that your cat is compulsively suckling, best call a vet.


Does my cat think I’m their mother?

While we can’t be 100% sure what your cat thinks, it probably does not think you’re the being that birthed it into this world.  Don’t fret, this doesn’t mean they don’t love you.  In fact, cats can show us that they do respect us and appreciate us the same way they would their biological moms.

However, cats are very independent creatures.  The memes you see online are true.  They don’t think we own them, they think we’re equals – who they emotionally manipulate to take care of them.  But let’s be real, who could resist their cuteness?

Do kittens miss their mom?

Cats are born to become independent from their moms one day.  They’re not pack animals like dogs are.  Given enough time apart, mama cats and her kittens will forget each other.  But, for the first few days apart from their moms and siblings, kittens will cry out of loneliness.

Give your kittens the attention and stimulation they need, and soon, they’ll be able to acclimate to their new home and life. Pro tip is to actually adopt two littermates if you are able.  They’ll be able to amuse each and keep each other company while you’re away.

How long do mother cats produce milk?

Mama cats can keep producing milk to up to 12 weeks.  All this time, her kittens will try to nurse her, but she’ll actually start weaning her kittens from week 8.  Please have a chat with your vet about the nutritional needs of your mama cat while her body goes through the process of providing food for her babies.  Your vet may recommend you to give your cat a fatter and more protein rich diet.

Kittens depend on their moms for not only nutrition, but also to be their teacher.  Mama Cats teach their young how do basic cat things like how to groom themselves, and social behaviors like how to make friends and how what’s the right amount of aggression when playing.

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