Is it okay to separate a 9 week old kitten from its mother?
October 4, 2012 2:24 PM   Subscribe

What is the right age to separate a kitten from its mother? Is it okay to separate a 9 week old kitten from its mother?

I recently adopted a mother cat and her young kitten from a cat shelter.

The aim was to keep them both for life, but the mother cat is really not getting on with her daughter (both were sterilised just before they left the shelter) and I am honestly worried that she will kill her kitten if they are not separated ASAP.

I have found a great new home for the mother - is it okay to separate her from her kitten when the kitten is 9 weeks old?

The kitten is eating plenty of solid food, and drinking plenty of fresh water, but is still breast-feeding once a day or so.

It is very healthy and active and has no health problems.
posted by anonymous to Pets & Animals (8 answers total)
Nine weeks is on the low end but acceptable -- my local shelter used to have a "two months, two pounds" rule which was extended to 10 weeks.
posted by jeather at 2:26 PM on October 4, 2012

Nine weeks should be okay, especially if momcat is aggressive towards her. Ours were that age when they were separated and everyone is doing fine.

How is she nursing if Mom wants to eat her?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:31 PM on October 4, 2012

I have doubts about the "sterilization" of a nine-week old kitten, but I suppose it's barely possible. I wasn't aware that a mother cat could produce milk after she's been spayed, but that just goes to show that I don't know everything.

I wonder if your kitten is really in danger from the mother, or if she's just trying to wean it. I can't tell from your description. Keep an eye on them. If she's not leaving any marks on the kitten, I'm guessing she isn't really trying to hurt it. The kitten will give up messing with her sooner or later, and probably drift toward becoming a lap-warmer, the ultimate goal of most house-cats. Both cats are new to your house. Territoriality is yet to be confirmed.

We have four cats that share our house, but they are inside/outside cats. They have come to terms with one another and eat off the same tray at the same time (each with his own dish), sleep in a pile, and stuff like that. They are different ages, three males and a female, all neutered or spayed. The only one with anything that resembles an attitude is the female, who is older than the rest. She's the queen, and brooks little insubordination from the others.
posted by mule98J at 2:56 PM on October 4, 2012

Physical health wise it is fine to separate them for safety if you think that it is necessary, especially since she is already weaned.

Behaviorally however, having another cat around to help teach the daughter proper/"friendly" cat-on-cat socialisation/play is super useful if you want her to be good in a multi-cat household in the future so you might consider fostering some kittens or an older cat for a temporary solution if you don't want to adopt a kitten-friendly cat to replace the mom.
posted by McSwaggers at 3:08 PM on October 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Long ago, I adopted a kitten who was 6 1/2 weeks. More recently, a kitten who was 8 weeks old. In both cases, they were fine. The 6 1/2 week year old definitely imprinted on me in a serious way as a result of coming to me so young. The 8 week old, not so much, actually. Maybe because there are other cats in the house for him to hang with. In both cases, neither had the option of staying with Mom any more.

They were fine. Healthy, happy, just a little clingy in one case. If they can stay with their parents longer, it's good. If they can't, it will be fine, just give her lots of attention. (And maybe some kitten formula).
posted by instead of three wishes at 3:12 PM on October 4, 2012

In the olden days (70s), 6 weeks was the go. However, I would be interested in what behaviour the older cat is exhibiting that is causing you to think she would kill her kitten. The only cats I've seen fight to a frightening extent have been adult cats over territory, and even so, most of it was screaming and bluster.
posted by b33j at 6:47 PM on October 4, 2012

Last batch of ferals I took care of stayed with mom until 12 weeks, the she finally kicked them out. They are incredibly well adjusted. The cats that were taken away from mom at 6 weeks or less (not by my choice) are much more high strung.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 8:01 PM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Mom's teach fighting skills by play-fighting, all the more so if there are no sibs to take that role. Please consider whether some of this might be going on.
posted by Mertonian at 8:08 PM on October 4, 2012 [7 favorites]

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