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Hi there :)

I am new to this forum and at minimum, once a month, I rescue stray kitties and doggies.
Dogs are much easier to catch, as stray kittens seem to still be a challenge for me.
Insight and advice on stray cats and kittens are much needed and appreciated.

I have 4 furry kids. 2 cats and 2 dogs and all of them are rescues.

I am in recent need of advice on 3 kittens that a stray dropped into my mother's backyard.

8 Weeks ago, a Feral Cat dropped 3 of her newly born kittens into my mother's backyard. For these past 8 weeks, my mother has been feeding, watering, talking to and providing shelter to the Feral mother and these kittens. This past week, we noticed that they are still weaning and drinking moms milk but they started to eat mom's solid food that my mother places out for her.

Due to their rapid growth, this saturday, we are planning to trap mom and the kittens. We will take them to the veterinarian and get them all fixed, chipped and test checked. They are no more than 2-3 lbs in weight.

My question is, is 8 weeks old enough to separate them from mom?
Do they still have a chance at being adopted out?
Is there any advice that you can give me on places or people that I can donate/pay to foster/home/board them, as my mother nor I can keep them.

I've attached images below. Please keep in mind that I will have better photos of them once they are caught and at the veterinarian this weekend.

I have no idea where to turn to get them adopted out into safe, loving forever homes. Any and all help/advice is strongly appreciated. Sending cat hugs and love!


5,172 Posts
Thank you for looking after these kitties.....yes, do trap the mom and get the kitties fixed and vaccinated, etc. At 8 wks., they can be separated from their momcat. The important thing after this has been done is the socialization of the kitties with people, gentle kids, other pets. Your local humane society may have people who foster and that would be ideal as it is in a home setting that is best for their socialization. This includes handling the kitties a lot--picking up and holding them for short periods, carressing them, gently brushing them, clipping their nails, playing with them with a cord or wand toys. There is a small window of time for this socialization to make these kitties wonderful pets that are accustomed to living in a house with its noises (vacuum cleaners, mixers, Micro oven, TV/radio and talking.....and that is now and the next couple of months. Ideally they should have been gently handled from the day they were born. Kittens can maintain their feral instincts if they do not receive this intensive socialization at this time. All the best!

873 Posts
Hi Jenae and welcome to the forum !

Separating mom and kits at 8 weeks used to be acceptable some years ago, until people began noticing that kittens who are left longer with their mothers were better socially adjusted, the commonly-accepted separation age was raised to 12 weeks.

And, most recently, that age has been raised again: Delayed Weaning Reduces Behavioural Problems in Cats

Now, these are 'rule of thumb' (commonly accepted among the informed "cat community") numbers. They represent what has been shown to be optimal, as 'optimal' has evolved over recent years: from 8 some years ago to 12 and, more recently to 14+. The most recent recommendations are also science-based.

A snippet from that study:
"The age of weaning has an impact on the cat's later behaviour. Cats weaned under the age of 8 weeks displayed more aggression and stereotypic behaviour. Cats weaned in adulthood had fewer such problems than other cats. Cats weaned at 14 weeks of age had fewer behavioural problems than cats weaned earlier,"
And......the payoff is the reduction in adoption failures and rejected, returned (and, probably 'dumped') cats.

Yes, we know the pressures on shelters and rescuers to move cats through quickly, especially during "kitten seasons".....these days, though, the better-resourced shelters are using foster care to keep moms and kits together, longer.

You may be able to find resources to assist with adoption if you Google "cat rescue near (city/town)". IF you consider shelters, please make sure they are "no-kill" facilities. IF you go the private route, do insist on a re-homing/adoption fee - this will help prevent these little ones becoming victims of ill-intentioned people.

Hope this helps!

Premium Member
8,629 Posts
Hi Janae!
8 weeks old is the youngest you should think about separating mom and kits...
12 to 14 weeks would be optimal...
However, depending on your situation, that might not be possible...
If the mother is feral, she's going to pass on behaviours to her kittens, that maybe humans aren't trustworthy... give the kittens the best chance, you may need to separate now, to get them socialized, and give them the best chance of adoption...
And do and try, to trap Mama cat, so she doesn't have anymore kittens!
There are cheap spay&neuter programs available...
Check out ANY TNR sites!
Good Luck!
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