How long can a mother cat be away from her kittens?

Just like all new mums even mama cats need their me-time too. When kittens are born they are very dependent on their mother for food, warmth, and milk. How long can mama cats be away from her kitten?

How long can mama cats stay away from her kitten?

The mother will only leave a few times during the day as the kittens get older, they are less and less dependent on their mama.

Around the time of 3 weeks, a mama cat will spend more and more time on her own. If your cat is indoor-only it is very easy to keep track of where she is going.

If she is an indoor-outdoor cat, you may not be able to keep track of when or how long she is gone.

The most important thing is that your kittens are gaining weight and they appear healthy. That’s how you base whether or not your cat is spending too much time away from the kitten.

When can kittens leave without their mother cat

Newborns are going to be nursed still about 4 weeks of age, at 4 weeks of age that is when they are going to start eating more solid food and be able to see more things on their own.

At 6 weeks of age, most kittens are pretty resilient and they are still not sure what is going on in their environment, what things mean, and as far as social skills are concerned they are still not quite there either.

They are still learning how to fend for themselves, social behavior, and where food comes from other than their mother.

At 8 weeks of age, most kittens are at the point where they can leave their mother and be on their own. They are ready to go out into the wild, though they are very susceptible to everything because they are still so small.

There are some instances where a kitten, should not be released or let go from the mother too soon, that will be if they had sickness, a respiratory infection. Those kittens need more time to get their mothers’ nutrition or at least be taken care of before being set out on their own.

The congenital abnormality, a birth defect can also hinder when a kitten can leave their mother. But typical 8 weeks of age for a normal healthy kitten is a good time for it.

Separating a young kitten from its mother to a new home

Separating young kittens from their mum is a difficult situation, but you want to do it and make sure both of them, including you, are happy at the end.

From birth until the age of two weeks, kittens are at the neonatal stage of their lives meaning that they are completely dependent upon their mother and rely on her the mama, to take care of every aspect of their needs from feeding to bathing.

At the age of 3 weeks is when the kittens open up themselves a little more to the outside world, however, it is recommended to keep human handling down to a minimum until the age of 3 weeks and just leave them completely to their mother, because as a mother she knows what she is doing.

Once they reach the age of three weeks it is beneficial for their development, to introduce a little human handling and start to socialize them a little more.

At 4 weeks old kittens will become completely stable on their feet and this is the time the queen mother will begin the weaning process, which means she may crow at her kitten if they attempt to nurse. She will do so, to encourage them to look for solid food elsewhere.

This is a good opportunity for you to intervene and to introduce your kittens to solid food. You can start with moistening food mixed with kitten formula, as time goes by adding less and less water to their food.

At age 7 weeks the kitten should be used to eating solid food completely. Your kitten must receive the right kind of social experience from birth until they are 10 weeks old.

Most of their social skills will be taught by their mother and their siblings as well. As a human you will have to step in as well and help them socialize after they are 3 weeks old, just introduce some human handling like picking up the kitten patting them, playing with them.

Another good practice to see how well your kitten can do without its littermates is to put them in a separate room for several minutes and see how well they can do, if they react in a calm or relaxed manner do reward that behavior with a treat or snack, but do not reward them with a treat or snack still they are about 5or 6 weeks.

When they are 8 weeks your kitten should be fully prepared to go to their new home.

One thing you should know about the mama cat is she will not suffer from separation anxiety for so long.

What binds her and her kittens is scent because they all have the same nest smell, they all recognize it, but once the kittens are separated from her to be taken to their new home, their scent will gradually disappear, as this occurs so will her instinct to look for them, check up on them and check if they are ok also disappear.

A good thing to do is when the kittens are leaving the house is to get rid of anything marked with their scent. Do not take the kitten away from their mama cat all at once, because that might result in enlarged mammary glands, which is going to be painful for your, and once the scent is completely gone, she should be back to her old routine in no time.

Related questions

Why do mother cats abandon their kittens?

A mama cat may reject some or all of her litter if any of them are ill

Do kittens think humans are their mothers?

No, a cat does not think you are the mama cats that birthed it. The kittens show us a level of affection and respect that is very similar to the way they treat their mama cat. Cats behave independently because they think humans are cats like them.