When can kittens leave their mother?

Posted by | Mar 5, 2016 |

Even though separating a kitten from her trusted mother can be one of the most heart-wrenching experiences ever, sometimes it is necessary, as you may be giving the kitten for adoption. But do you know at what age should this happen?

When can kittens leave their mother?

Author Amira

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I’m Amira, founder and editor at Cattention.

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Kittens can leave their mother by the eighth week and by this time they would have developed socially, physically and emotionally. But at this age, they still have valuable skills to learn and they also have to receive their first vaccinations. So the best time for them to be separated from their mother is at 12 weeks.

To really understand when kittens can be separated from their mother and their littermates, we should be aware of the timeline of the kittens’ development. There are also some important social benefits on why you should not give them away so early and keep the kittens with their mother for a longer period.

Let’s discuss the kittens’ development first.

Kittens taking nap together

Kittens’ development

Even though the newborn kitten is deaf, her eyes are shut, and she has no teeth, her sense of smell is already highly developed very soon after her birth. During this period, the mother cat stays with its litter almost all the time to keep the kitten’s body temperature warm enough and to keep them safe.

The little kitty relies completely on her mother for the first two weeks, and after this time her eyes and ears will finally open, and her sight and hearing will start developing. Her baby teeth also start coming out by the second or third week. Upon reaching her fourth week, she will learn how to walk, how to play with other kittens and how to cover her waste.

Between the age of four and eight weeks, the lovely kitten’s vision becomes clear, all her baby teeth appear and this is the time when she will start eating a small amount of soft food in addition to the mother’s milk. This is a very important socializing time also, as the kitten’s play with her littermates become harder, and she starts to act like an adult cat including exploring the world and showing aggression.

By the time the kitten reaches her third month (from week eight to twelve), her temporary blue eye color will transform to the permanent adult color, and her 28 deciduous teeth will start falling out and continuously will be replaced with the 30 proper teeth when she reaches the age of five months.

During the second half of her first year, this adorable kitten will reach her sexual maturity, and her personality traits will be fully developed between the age of one and two years.

Now that we are aware of our four-legged friend’s development, let us take a deeper look into the important social benefits which she gains while staying with her mommy and her littermates.

Kittens' development


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Social benefits


In the kitten’s life, it is very important that she can