Turn about is fair play–the blog discussed newborn puppy development last Wednesday so today we look at the cat-egorical side of things. Besides, it’s a great opportunity to share SQUEEE! cute kitten pictures!
Social play with Mom and siblings begins now, and includes running, rolling, biting, wrestling, climbing, and jumping. Mom-cat and siblings let the baby know if he bites or claws too hard and they’ll hiss at him or put an end to the game. If you are the “mother figure” it’s up to you to teach Baby about the litter box, playing “nice” and eating grown-up food.
Kittens gain two to four ounces a week from birth to five to six months of age. The kitten immune system is also fully developed by six to eight weeks of age, while the immune protection he gained from Mom begins to fade.
Play and interaction with others takes over during weeks five to seven. Good experiences with people and other pets during this time ensure they’ll be well-adjusted adult cats. It’s ideal for kittens to stay with their littermates and mother until twelve weeks of age so they learn best how to get along with other cats, and learn all the important “cat rules” of the world. But very often, shelters need the space and adopt out babies earlier–or the kitten is alone in the world anyway, and benefits from being adopted earlier.
When you adopt a kitten at this age, it’s up to you to expose him to a wide range of situations so he’ll be willing to accept them as he ages. That’s called “socialization” and can mean the difference between a loving pet and a scaredy cat.
He should learn to accept being handled and groomed by you and strangers, so the veterinarian won’t have to fight him for an examination. This is the best age to train him to accept the cat carrier and leash. That allows him to travel with you when necessary, either to the vet or groomers, or across town to visit Grandma. And if you think another pet (dog or cat), or a child might be in your future, introduce him to positive experiences at this age. That way, he’ll accept them as a normal part of his world and you’ll prevent behavior problems down the road.
How hold was your cat when you adopted him? Have you ever needed to hand-raise a kitten? What do you think is the best age to adopt–and why? Please share!
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