When can we separate a nursing kitten from its mother? What possible consequences would weaning have?
Marie-Hélène Bonnet, an expert in cat behavior, reminds us, through the “voice” of a cat victim of the ignorance of its owners, to what extent it is important to respect the weaning period of a cat when it is a baby to avoid serious behavior problems.
The premature weaning of a cat
What can happen if we separate a cat from its mother early?
We are going to let a little kitten explain his experiences to us and, above all, the risk and the important upheavals that a precipitous weaning can have on him or his siblings :
“When my brothers, sisters and I were born it was a veterinarian who took us out of our mother’s womb, who had a cesarean section. Then, mother could not lick us to clean us, something that can create an affective deficiency that can later be translated into a“ super-attachment ”to my future masters. However, caesarean sections are common and, in most cases, our masters do whatever is necessary. But in this story our mistress did not know how to act. Mom had no milk, and they gave us bottles. It’s funny, but they say that not being able to suckle to get milk can also create an affective deficiency … And that mom’s dream was close! “
What is the phenomenon of vicariousness?
How does separation from its mother affect a cat before 8 weeks of age?
“We all grew up well, but weaning was difficult and when we finally found Mom’s nipples, which we hadn’t had before, we were so eager to make up for lost time that we didn’t want to switch to solid food, we didn’t want to miss our daily dose ! from 4 weeks, the cats began to be interested in the world outside our nest . “
“And we began to imitate Mom, they explained to us that this was called the phenomenon of vicariousness . This phase lasts until 8 weeks. Afterwards, we move on to the purely educational phase in which Mom teaches us to set limits and live in society . Unfortunately we had not lived through this important phase for our development. We had been separated from our mother without warning, at 7 weeks. In full phase of vicariousness! “
Let’s go back to reality. A kitten that is separated from its mother before week 12/13 is a cat that will have no limits. Nibbling, scratching, peeing and other “joys” such as “destroying” the sofa with your fingernails, will surely appear. It will be necessary for the owners to consult the behavioral experts to put things in order … and, honestly, the price of a purebred cat – in this link we give you the details of all the cat breeds that exist -… In short, every owner hopes not to have to go through this type of setback.
A breeder who does his job well would not sell a cat that is at risk of these problems , he will make sure that everything is ready for the kitten to adapt to family life and its future environment! In addition, separating a kitten from its mother during the period of vicariousness can cause serious problems that we will not be able to eradicate, at most, they can be mitigated. In fact, a kitten that has not learned to go to the bathroom or cover its bed cannot be taught to do so at 6 months or 10 years.
We return the word to our little friend:
“You know, we were suddenly pushed off our mother’s lap, we left without saying goodbye, not knowing what to do or how. We have come to a strange house, with strange people and strange smells . All that disturbs us! The new lady who takes care of us does not know how to move a kitten to a new environment. Mom’s therapist was in a rage when we told her all this. “
“He said it was a crime to do that to little kittens! That’s right, I can’t give you any more news, or tell you if we’re okay or if something worse has happened to us, it seems that some of us won’t be able to bear such a sudden change to our age … and we can die . Thank you for reading me … “
How long does a cat have to be with its mother?
Different regulations on the adoption of animals do not allow a cat to be gifted or separated from its mother before 8 or 10 weeks, based on the end of the vicarious period. Even so, it must be remembered that kittens should not be separated from their mother before the rejection phase, which takes place after all the educational stages, when the cat has transmitted all her knowledge to her little ones. Never before!
One day we will meet one of these little ones in a consultation, if they live or survive this type of serious trauma that no human worthy of the name would dare to do.