Before 14-17 Weeks
We understand more than anyone the appeal of a young kitten, but it is
irresponsible to place a kitten in a new home
before the kitten is ready. Our goal is to deliver the
best adjusted possible kitten to you and to insure that you will not
a healthy kitten, but that it will stay that way.
Kittens are still with their mother's until about 8-10 weeks of age. (Both Bengals and Sokokes mature slower than average domestics, and recent research for all kittens says to wait.) By weaning they've only started on their kitten shots; they need time to learn what is expected of them away from their mom. Because of the natural immunity from the mother's antibodies in the milk, kittens do not always get the full benefit of their first shots. Our shot schedule is not finished until 12 - 14 weeks. (More about our weaning and vaccinations here.)
"Why can't I receive my kitten sooner and have my vet give the remaining shots?" This is a logical question and would seem on the surface to be a workable solution. But, shots are not the only consideration. Kittens need to learn and polish their kitty social skills so important to growing into a proper cat. These are accomplished with his or her siblings and learning to be independent of their mother together. To remove a kitten from it's mother and siblings at the same time is cruel, as well as unhealthy.
"Why?" It would be one more stress added to the normal stress of this age. It is stressful when a kitten is weaned, it is stressful when they must get all of their nourishment on their own, it is stressful when they must learn not to scratch furniture and other household manners, it is a physical stress when they get their shots, and emotionally stressful then they lose their siblings. Imagine the stress of all of these happening at the same time!
Like so many other things, illness is often triggered by stress. And, if the kitten's immune system isn't ready to handle it, it is more likely you will end up with a kitten sick in the first couple of weeks after adoption. That is why it is important for the kitten to experience these one at a time. Speaking of stress, we do not place our kittens over the Christmas holidays because of extra company in most homes, dangerous decorations, and the additional stress we humans are under at that time. These, added to the normal stress of a new home, are unfair to inflict on a young kitten.
It takes 7-10 days for the immunity to build after each shot, for this reason we keep kittens at least a week after that last shot. (This is also more than enough time for any danger of a reaction to the shot to pass.) By this time, the immunity from the shots has taken full effect and the kitten has had time to be exposed to many normal "bugs" in a familiar environment without added stress and to build his/her own immunity to those, too.
By the time, this kitten undergoes the stress of a new home and new family, he or she has had new experiences and has gained some confidence in overcoming them, as well as having "met" new adult cats and other kittens, and gain some confidence in handling those situations. We hope that, for the benefit of your new kitten, you will be patient while he or she matures and is ready to come to his new home with you.
"If the kitten is older, he or she will be bonded to the breeder and won't bond with us and we'll miss his or her kittenhood." This is a very common misconception. Kittens who have learned to form a strong bond with any human will transfer that affection almost immediately. Our first Bengal was delayed in being shipped and was five and a half months when she finally arrived to us. She begged for love on the way home from the airport and seemed to know this was her house and her people right from day one. She bonded to us right away and we are still bonded.
Kittens are cute and playful for the rest of the first year and when altered maintain that playfulness for many years to come. (My mom's beautiful moggy is now 10 years old and still playful as is our 9 year old Pixie. So, never fear, you will enjoy all of this with your new baby. (And, you would enjoy none of this if the kitten you receive gets ill right after arrival.)
"Why do kittens that fly have to wait longer?" Not only does flying put additional stress on the kitten, he or she needs to have their rabies shot to fly and that is given at 4 months (16 weeks) therefore, these kittens travel at or after 17 weeks.
Thank you for reading,
Article on kittens going to new homes
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