Do cats suffer when they are separated from their young?

Your cat has had a litter of kittens, they have been growing up, and they are ready to find new homes to live their own life. You may worry about how mother cat will handle losing her kittens after all the time you’ve spent together. You have nothing to fear. It is natural for kittens to leave the nest and their siblings.

But for the process to be natural it will depend on when you separate them. Next I will indicate the appropriate steps to perform the separation without traumatizing the cat and her kittens.

How long should kittens be with their mother?

When they are around 4 weeks old, the cat will begin to wean her kittens. She will start teaching them how to hunt and will wait for them to start eating solid food instead of breastfeeding.

The cat may growl at her kittens when they try to breastfeed to motivate them to search for food themselves. The cat can move her kittens to an area near her favorite hunting grounds, or to the food bowl, to make it easier for her little ones to access solid food.

When can a cat be separated from its mother?

Once the kittens are fully weaned, around 10-12 weeks of age, is the age at which a kitten can be separated from its mother . At that age, kittens should be used to eating solid foods and using the litter box. At this point they will be ready to leave their mother and find forever homes.


What can happen if the separation of the kittens is done too soon?

As I have indicated, the ideal is that you do not separate the kittens from their mother until they are at least 8 to 12 weeks old . Separating them from their mother before then could lead to the kittens dying because they were not properly weaned or causing physical or behavioral problems.

During the first two weeks of life, kittens are completely blind and completely dependent on their mother’s lactation for food. They will begin to open their eyes around day 14 of life, but it will take a week or two before they can see properly.

By the third week, they begin socializing (with both their siblings and their humans) and they begin to go to the bathroom alone. At 4 weeks of age, kittens start to eat some solid food from their mother’s bowl and begin to wean, but it will take at least another 3 to 4 weeks before they are fully weaned and eat solid food exclusively .

Between weeks 4 and 8 of a kitten’s life is an extremely crucial time for them. It is at this point, that kittens begin their early education with mom, now is a very good time to begin to get used to being around humans, hugging, caressing, playing with them. The more you socialize them with humans in the coming weeks, the easier it will be for them to find forever homes.


How long does it take for a cat to forget her kittens?

Cats don’t think in the same way as people. It is natural that a mother cat after 10 or 12 weeks, has taught the kittens to be independent, at that moment her bond with them will weaken. In fact, it is not uncommon for the mother cat to feel uncomfortable with the presence of her kittens after weaning them and to growl at them and even fight with a child.

It may happen that when the kittens have been separated after 10 or 12 weeks, the cat meows and “looks for” the “missing” kittens, but at most this will last a few days and then she will return to normal.

If the kittens are separated before the age of 10 weeks, this behavior of the mother cat may persist a little longer, but not long, since she is instinctively programmed to leave her litter and cats do not “remember” or “cry” for kittens as we humans would.

Kittens, however, can have a bit more trouble with separation. Sometimes a kitten may refuse to eat or be depressed for several days after leaving its mom.

Do not forget that a cat may abandon her young , even when they are newborn. This can happen if the mother feels that one or more kittens are sick or misshapen, if she is suffering from painful mastitis, or if the litter is too large for her to nurse. Some first-time female cats may also reject their kittens for no apparent reason, although the underlying cause is often stress and anxiety.


If you choose to leave the mother with her kittens

If you choose to leave the mother and her kittens to stay together, the bond between them is strengthened. As an adult, mom can bring her kittens food scraps and groom them.

Wild cats will often form large social groups, usually made up of Mom and her numerous kittens, as well as any offspring they may have had. These large social groups work together to raise new litters of kittens. These generally only include female cats, as the males will leave the nest and form large territories of their own.


Why does my cat growl at her kittens?

You pass where your mother cat has been raising and feeding her litter of kittens. She hisses and growls. You look at your mother cat and ask yourself: What just happened? She is sick? Now is she a bad mom? Here are possible reasons for this behavior:

The cat is tired

The mother cat has been busy all day, taking care of her little ones, feeding them, making them go to the bathroom, cleaning them and teaching them how to use the litter box. She is exhausted from exhaustion.

At that moment he opens his mouth and lets out that distinctive hiss, and tells his kittens: I need a few moments of my time. This is normal behavior and nothing to worry about.

Weaning time

She is tired of feeding them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. She wants to spend more time alone, sunbathing on her favorite chair, sleeping her hours. The cat will hiss and growl at you to have a quiet time. When it is  time for weaning,  which should begin between three and four weeks of age, she will let you know.

She needs to get food

If the mother cat and the babies are outside, she will need to go find food for herself and possibly her kittens.

It’s so much easier to find food without the distraction, misbehavior, and noise of kittens, you know you will be able to bring something home if your babies are not scaring off prey. She will turn around and hiss at whatever kitty is trying to follow her.

The kittens have to go

Mom looks at her kittens and realizes they are almost grown up and decides it’s time for them to get away from her so she’ll let out that hiss and growl that says, it’s time to move out and find another home! She knows when they are ready to be independent.

Kittens mature quickly, so mom isn’t being careless in kicking them out, she’s doing what’s best for them, actually.

When are kittens strange to mother cat?

A mother and her kittens that nest together have a unique scent that helps them to recognize each other. Once her kittens are separated from her, that scent is quickly lost. Your baby will have a whole new series of scents in him from his new home.

You would think that she would recognize the homecoming of one of her kittens, but the truth is that she will treat him like any other strange cat. Since it no longer smells like a nest, she won’t recognize it at all. The same goes for siblings. As they snuggle and sleep together as long as they stay together, once apart, the familiarity is quickly lost. So for a mother cat a long-awaited reunion with the family will likely include a lot of hissing and stress.




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