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I have done some Google'ing into when is a good time to bring home kittens, and I have read articles where the most common answer is "12 weeks but above 8 and you should be fine".

I also read that if you bring home the kittens a little sooner, it could have pros and cons:

  • Pros: the kittens might not have fully accepted their current location as their home, so bringing them home sooner should make the transition easier for them.
  • Cons: the kittens learn behavior from their mother at around 12 weeks which they would be deprived of if taken home too soon.

What would be the best age to bring home kittens? Will getting 2 from the same litter reduce the chance of behavioural issues if taken earlier than 12 weeks?

10

Honestly you are fine with 8 weeks, I never see kittens come in at 12 weeks with new owners - always 8 weeks with zero issues. You also have people getting kittens at 6 weeks and younger depending on the situation (abandonment, barn cats etc.) with no real bad problems. You may get kittens who still suckle on things when they are brought home too young or kittens who don't know how to play properly (bite too hard).

Most kittens we see come in for SPCA health checks or are strays who turn out to be lovely cats as they got older despite being taken away from mum at a young age. You can wait for 12 weeks, no harm in doing that, but 8 weeks is fine too.

Feliway is a great product to help transition cats into their new home, I highly recommend you try it out!

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Generally the rule of thumb is 8-12 weeks depending on how well the kitten has been socialized. I highly advise against taking them in younger than that for a multitude of reasons but the primary reasons being they haven't learned enough yet and health concerns.

I had a cat, who just recently passed away, that my wife and I took in at 4 weeks and bottle fed him because his momma was hit by a car. He was kind to my wife and I but was nervous and terrible around everyone else. He also never learned to hunt properly and looked like a giant dork when he played with his toys.

You can definitely take cats younger than 8 weeks but I really don't recommend it.

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At 12 weeks, most kittens have learned most things about being a cat from its mother.

Teaching the kitten about hunting and killing prey usually takes about two more weeks.This is taken seriously by the mother cat.

So if you want an indoor cat, 12 weeks should be fine, but if you want an outdoor cat, 14 weeks is better.

  • Can confirm. From my experience killed prey is introduced around 9 weeks and wounded prey at 11-12. – Michael 9 hours ago
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One issue with too young is that (at any age) moving home is stressful to a cat. Stressed cats don't look after themselves properly, kittens even more so. A six week old kitten has far smaller reserves if it stops eating/drinking for a day. Dehydration is the biggest worry at that stage. We had two end up in hospital for a few days, and possibly lasting health problems in one, after collecting them at six weeks. We'd been told they were older.

On the advice of vets some classified ad publications won't accept adverts stating less than 8 weeks.

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8 weeks is very common, since by that time the kittens should be fully weaned without intervention from the owner. But reputable breeders will keep them around for 12 weeks, so their personalities develop around their littermates and mom and the steady traffic of people interested in the kittens at the home. These breeders will also give you the origin paperwork, and perform tests for genetic defects and such common to the breed.

The age a breeder is willing to give a kitten away is one of the indicators of what their standards of practice are; whether they care for the wellbeing of the animals in general, or just want a quick turnaround and undercut prices. (An extra month of premium kitten food is a few tens of bucks, but that's enough to move your place in a listing.)

I don't think the pro of 8 week kittens is all that important in the long term. A kitten will pretty quickly realise there aren't its parents and 6 more siblings to bully it around, and that it's the big cat in the house. If you want to make the transition easier and also improve on the social development, consider taking in two littermates. Anecdotally the pair I've had was significantly less bored-destructive than the single cats I've owned, since they mostly just fought and chased one another for fun.

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