In an ideal situation, kittens stay with their mother at least 12 weeks after birth. They need this period to learn ‘how to cat’ from their mother and siblings.
At KRCF we are often confronted with kittens that were separated from their mother at an early age. Too early anyway!
While we do our best to provide them with the best care we can, we can never replace a real cat mom. We feed them formulated milk, which provides them with all the necessary nutrients, but not the mothers antibodies against disease. This makes bottle babies more susceptible to infections, at least until their own immune system kicks in. But the mother provides them with so much more in the early stages of life. She cleans them, teaches them how to eat solid food and to groom themselves. And she teaches them manners! Manners on how to behave among other cats and human beings. About not to bite fingers, not to climb trousers and not to hate other cats.
Kittens that are orphaned at a young age are at risk of becoming ‘anti-social’ towards other cats and humans too. It is crucial that they interact with other cats from 3-4 weeks on, to learn the social skills they need to function in a family.
At KRCF we make great effort to ensure the orphans are introduced to other kittens if they are singletons (a singleton is a kitten without siblings) and that they are introduced to other cats from 4 weeks on. This way we ensure them to grow up stable and social creatures.