. How Old Should A Kitten Be When Going To A New Home?

Obsessive compulsive disorders in cats come in several forms of behavior which can stem from
several reasons. In a study, environmental and social stress were found to be factors causing OCD
in cats. Cats that have been inbred or weaned to soon were found to be more prone. The most common
signs of OCD in cats are sucking and chewing on blankets/clothes, earlobes,  fingers, and or even
other cats
. Sucking is lack of early socialization by being taken away from their mother at to young
of age. The cat's earliest pleasurable experience is suckling at his/her mother's teat. Even after
weaning the kitten may return to suckle as a form of comfort behavior, he/she tries to reproduce this
experience by sucking.  

It's not just an event that happens overnight, it's a process. They don't  just start eating food in one
day. They eat a little food, nurse, eat, nurse, eat & so on. Eventually they eat more than they nurse
and then stop nursing altogether.

When left to their mothers they'll eventually stop allowing the kittens to nurse, as with most cats
this starts occurring naturally around 8 weeks. However, this process is very important, it teaches
the kittens to learn to deal positively with frustration and denial. As the mother starts refusing to
allow the kitten to nurse which they very much want to do so, she teaches the kitten how to cope with  
frustration. Kittens who do not learn this lesson may develop behavioral problems, such as eating
and/ or litter box problems, which most kittens at age 6 to 8 weeks aren't consistently using their
litter box very well yet.

So weaning is not simply a matter of getting the kitten to eat solid food, it's an important time when
the kitten begins to assert its independence from its mother which needs to be a gradual process.

People often express a desire to have a younger kitten because they are afraid that the kitten will
not bond with them if older. This is simply not true, the older kittens bond with their new family just
fine. Cats do not have nor do they need to establish their place in a "pecking order" like dogs/etc.
This is a myth that needs to be dispelled so that kittens will have the opportunity to learn from their
mothers and be as healthy and stress-free as possible when they do go to their new loving home.

It's true, that when kittens are separated at a young age from their mothers they will often bond to a
person as a surrogate mother. This may seem cute but it's not healthy. Such kittens will often suck
on blankets, clothing, buttons, earlobes, or even on themselves. They may become dependent upon
humans to the point that they become fearful or neurotic when left alone. Most commonly however
cats that are deprived of proper socialization don't learn how to be with other cats. This makes them
especially inappropriate as pets in a multi-cat household.

The kitten socialization phase will start around 4 weeks of age, and continue up to around 12-14
weeks of age. Kittens will learn to explore their world through this period under the comforting &
guidance of their mother & siblings, how to interact with other cats/etc. They learn how to recognize
and interpret cat body language quite literally, a kitten who misses out on this important social
step may not learn how to "talk" to other cats. It's also during this time period when the kitten needs
to be exposed to people in a very good positive way too!

At 12 weeks of age most kittens are now weaned, and have had adequate socialization with mother
and siblings and have been started on their series of shots and de-wormed and has been handled
daily and have learned to explore their world around them and are happy and confident, which
should carry them throughout their life. This may vary from cat to cat or even from breed to breed.

The most important thing to remember is:   It's the kitten's future & well-being, that drives the
decision of what age to place each kitten, not finances or simply just the desire to have a younger
kitten for whatever reason. You will have a kitten only for a short time, but the cat may be with you
for many years to come. You may find it personally disappointing to allow the kitten a little more
time with its mother when you had hoped to have it earlier, but it will make a difference to the
mental, emotional, and physical health to the kitten throughout its entire life and you will have a
healthier, happier, feline friend because of it!       ;-)