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How old to be adopted out?

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
We often get people in the shelter asking if they can take home the really young kittens we have in foster homes.

In recent times we have seen a move towards kittens being 3-4 months before being adopted out by breeders and 10-12 weeks at shelters, but now and then you see cases of really young ones being adopted out, both in shelters and from breeders.

How old do you think they should be, personally, before being placed in a loving home?
post #2 of 38
Personally, 10-12 weeks. Realistically......at 8 weeks we have a hard time placing kittens, they're "too old".

People disappoint me, though. Little = cute & they don't see much beyond that.
post #3 of 38
When I worked at a shelter it was 8-9 weeks because, unfortunately, most people didn't want them after that age. Now with my foster kitties it's different. If they're with a momma, then I don't adopt them out until 11-12 weeks. If they're bottle babies, I usually let them go at at 9-10 weeks.
post #4 of 38
Depending on the circumstances the ideal time is 12-14 weeks, but 10-12 is the minimum IMO. Now if the kittens are in shelters under 10 weeks old and you have someone that can foster them for another month or two in a home enviroment (not permanent adoption yet), that's great. But the person has to have raised kittens before and taken the time to socialize them properly.

For pedigree, breeders rarely let them go to new homes before 3 months old - most of the time they are 4 months old. The difference in a happy, socially adjust kitten at 4 months old compared to 2 months old is like day/night. The kitten is more adjusted, more social, out of some of the "terrible" training times when most people get reallly frustrated.

Also mom and siblings need to teach kittens social and behaviorial skills that only another cat can teach
post #5 of 38
I think it depends on the circumstances. But in a typical situation I think 10-12 weeks is fine.
post #6 of 38
I got Kandie at 11 weeks which was a bit late as she was already hunting on her own ...

Simon was FAR too young when I found him at 5 weeks ...

I would say 9-12 weeks
post #7 of 38
If a foster mom can't be found, orphaned kittens can go home at any time after birth--to a qualified person who knows how to raise a bottle baby.

Otherwise, 12 weeks.
post #8 of 38
Shelters here let them go at 8 weeks, not before. Sadly there just isn't enough room/resources to keep them 10-12.
post #9 of 38
Originally Posted by missymotus View Post
Shelters here let them go at 8 weeks, not before. Sadly there just isn't enough room/resources to keep them 10-12.
sometimes here they let them go at 6 weeks when some dont eat dry yet it is a shame
post #10 of 38
Thread Starter 
What caught my attention was someone who took a kitten home from a breeder under 10 weeks for Christmas, I thought most shelters and breeders alike did not allow Christmas cats and not that young
post #11 of 38
Originally Posted by icklemiss21 View Post
What caught my attention was someone who took a kitten home from a breeder under 10 weeks for Christmas, I thought most shelters and breeders alike did not allow Christmas cats and not that young
many "breeders " here let them go at 6-8 weeks.. but i live in the sticks
post #12 of 38
Thread Starter 
Here most are 12 - 14 which is why I found it so strange.

Obviously some cats for various reasons, separated from mother etc have no choice but get on with life earlier, but with pure breds I assumed most were the same

Are there any standards set by the CFA / TICA etc ?
post #13 of 38
I got my kitten at exactly 12 weeks old, but he'd been up for adoption since he was 10 weeks. And people had actually turned him down because he was "too old".

Which actually worked out anyway, because now he's *my* kitten and he was the perfect age for me.
post #14 of 38
Our shelter lets them go at six weeks! Most people bring them there and dump them in the middle of the night and then they keep the mom! So most of the time there is no foster available and someone decides just to take on a younger kitty! I got Eek at maybe 4 weeks of age and it was tough! He couldn't drink out of a bowl or eat hard food! He couldn't keep his body heat up or anything... I think if they would have waited till 7 or 8 weeks he may have mastered some of those skills! As for the socializing I have another cat that helped turn him into a dog! LOL
post #15 of 38
I personally would prefer 10-12 weeks, but we adopt out from 8 weeks old, due to space and money, and also it can be harder to adopt them out at 12 weeks than 8, which I think is very sad.
post #16 of 38
i think they should be between 8 to 10weeks of age
post #17 of 38
Thread Starter 
I am thinking more in an ideal world without the constraints of shelter life.

We would love to keep all of them until 12 weeks at the shelter but with foster homes at a premium and full cages they often go at 9-10 weeks. But they seem so young and those are often the ones that have problems when first at their new homes.

Breeders also have more say, you sign a contract with them in advance in most cases and they say their cats don't leave until they are x weeks old.
post #18 of 38
Originally Posted by Rebochan View Post
I got my kitten at exactly 12 weeks old, but he'd been up for adoption since he was 10 weeks. And people had actually turned him down because he was "too old".
I admit that I am partial to adult cats, but still...How absurd is that attitude?

I mean, for argument's sake, let's assume that a cat will live to be 15 years old. That's 180 months. 12 weeks = 3 months. So, to these people, a cat that has lived roughly 1/60th of its life --- not even 2% --- is already "too old"?

I know that you can't save 'em all, and everyone has some list of requirements when they adopt a cat (gender, color, etc.), and that's fine. But you're adopting a living creature here for presumably many years into the future, not some stationary, disposable/replaceable household object. What happens when that "perfect age" 6-week old or 8-week old kitten becomes a "too old," fully-grown cat?
post #19 of 38
Maybe Im different, but when I go into a shelter, I always tend to pick the kitten or cat that is least likely to be adopted! I always get the sick ones, the old ones, the handicapped ones, I have a soft spot for one that doesn't look like its going to get a good home!! On the other side, I end up with the ones that are way to young and need to be bottle fed!! I think everyone should go for one that they wouldn't normally pick, then they could learn something new!!
post #20 of 38
Thread Starter 
I have a soft spot for the problem ones at the shelter too, Autumn has behavioural problems and I took her home, the older ones who don't as much attention just love it when you choose them to snuggle with etc
post #21 of 38
It worries me that anyone thinks a kitten older than 8 weeks is too old. Don't they realise that they grow up anyway? Mosi was 14 weeks old when I got him and he was still a tiny, playful little thing. I don't feel I missed out on his kittenhood. Jaffa was 8 weeks old but I think that was because he was in a shelter and wasn't with his mum so he was probably better off in a new home than in a pen there. I think 10 weeks or older is best for rehoming. I can understand rescues needing to free up space so letting them go at 8 weeks. I don't think they should go any younger though, unless they are orphaned so not with mum anyway (and so long as they are rehomed with a sibling). Over here, GCCF guidelines (which breeders agree to when they register their kittens) say that kittens should not be rehomed until they are 13 weeks old. That is partly so that they are fully vaccinated by the time they go to their new homes.
post #22 of 38
The kid I got Holden from said he was 7 weeks old and the kid had him for 2 weeks before his Mom said to get rid of him.
post #23 of 38
GCCF rules here in the UK state that no GCCF breeder can let a kitten go until it is at least 13 weeks old - that is 7 days after the last lot of kitten vaccinations, a safety period in case of adverse reactions/lumps at the injection site etc.

I think with shelters it is different, and to be quite honest, they don't usually have the room to keep kittens that long- rehoming them a bit younger is making space for more to be brought in and cared for. How much is a kitten learning if it is in a shelter cage anyway? Obviously some shelters have better facilities than others, but with the best will in the world, they can't provide the ideal environment. With fostered mums and kittens ideally leave it as long as possible before rehoming the kittens, but again while people do an admirable job providing temporary homes for these waifs and strays, rehoming makes space for new ones to be helped. Orphans are again a different matter, and probably as long as they are weaned ok they should go to their forever homes.

So I think it depends on the circumstances - 13 weeks if at all possible, but I do recognise that realistically for rescued kittens that is not always feasible. Where rehoming them younger, it's probably best to rehome in pairs or more - at least that way they can learn from interacting with each other
post #24 of 38
When I was a kid, we always got new kittens & puppies at 6 weeks old. Now cat breeders won't let their kittens go to new homes until they're 12 weeks & fixed. In my state its illegal to sell or give away a puppy until 8 weeks. I don't know how old kittens have to be to be adopted from shelters.
post #25 of 38
This is something I don't understand at all - why would you take a kitten so young if it also had the choice to stay with mother/siblings until 10-12 weeks?

It may be smaller and cuter but this doesn't seem enough to not wait a little while and get a kitten that has a more developed personality, learns from siblings and mother to not bite and scratch, and is less likely to have odd habits such as suckling or kneading amongst other things. The amount of people you see complaining about these issues I mentioned alone *sigh*.

I got my kitty from the shelter at 4 months old, he was still small and cute and has never even considered biting or scratching me in play or hostility. I do consider the fact that I never had one scratch mark from him in nearly a year since I got him partly down to his being with his family until I adopted him, so he was taught how to behave well.

I do of course understand that not all kittens can wait, and not all have a mother or siblings, but so so many are taken because otherwise, as people have previously mentioned, they are "too old" at a sensible age. Some people also seem to think the cat bonds better at a younger age, but this is just not true.. the bonding will depend on the cat and yourself and will have nothing to do with the age you get the animal. I'm sure many people have had a more affectionate companion after adopting an adult cat compared to a cat they had bottle raised.
post #26 of 38
Yup, not only those reasons but when you think about how many kittens you think you're giving to their forever homes that get passed around to one person or the next!! I think when people take adults, it really is for their forever home! Or at least stands a better chance! I do think that kittens should be with their moms as long as possible, and I want a family of cats, I think that would be fun! To get a mommy who's all preggers and then her have the babies, and keep them ALL!! Oh wouldn't that be great! A family living with another family!!
post #27 of 38
Most breeders I know won't let any kittens go before 12 weeks or older. I'm getting a Maine Coon and many of the breeders of them wait until 14 weeks at least, and Maine Coon kittens sometimes continue to nurse until 12-14 weeks old!
However if you have kittens in a shelter where they are in a cage all day or alone with other unrelated cats in a room I think you have to consider whether they are getting any benefit from staying until 12+ weeks old...
post #28 of 38
At our shelter the younger the better. Snickers came in at 4 weeks. She wouldn't eat on her own and you had to stimulate her hiney to get her to relieve herself. We had other kittens that were 8 weeks old and perfectly healthy but no one looked at them. They went straight to Snickers. I eventually adopted her because I didn't want her to stay alone over night without eating. At our shelter we adopt them out if they are atleast 6 weeks old and eating on their own. Most of the kittens that get turned into us do not have their mothers with them. If they do have their mothers than we keep them together longer but unfortuantly if someone is willing to adopt them then we will adopt them out because we are not a no-kill shelter.
post #29 of 38
If the mom is around, I'd say 12 weeks minimum. I adopted Chloe at 12 weeks (we think that was her age at least), she was rescued at 4 weeks by a rescue/foster group. She was with her sister and they were kept together (no mom), which I think gave her the important kitten-kitten socialization. She also was with the foster mom's older cat that sort of took care of Chloe as well. I wouldn't have minded bottle feeding Chloe if I had found her that early but I'm glad that she had time to spend with her kitten-sister.

If someone doesn't want to adopt a kitten because it's over 10 weeks, than I would think twice about giving them the kitten. Kittens only stay little for a few months. The cute baby stage is very quick and a cat is a long commitment (up to 20+ years) that shouldn't be taken lightly.

I remember seeing *really* young kittens at the humane society once when I was dropping off some wet food. They were ready for adoption and must have been 10 weeks? I don't know. They were just itty bitty.
post #30 of 38
I've helped out a local rescue house here, because ALL of the surrounding shelters are kill shelters. And I agree, they should be kept with their mother or siblings much longer than they usually are. I can understand its not always possible, but even being around other somewhat younger cats (that are tolerant of them of course) can be benefitial. I've seen numerous cases of kittens having whats basically a godfather, or surrogate family with cats not related to them at all, and my biggest issue is what they're taught by the mother (or whatever depending). I work from home a lot of the time (graphics artist) and I fell very far behind once because I was looking after a -younger than- 4 week old kitten. He was extremely malnourished when he was taken to the rescue house, and rather than his mother or another cat keeping him from venturing off and doing things that could hurt or kill him, it was my job. After that week, I don't even want to imagine what being a father is going to be like... lol.

FYI - He eventually grew into his own with a lot of care, and was adopted out. He's actually a bit overweight now..
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