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What happens if a kitten is separated too early from its mama?

Let’s face it, none of us could resist these sweet fuzzy little kittens, stumbling around with their sweet voices, furry little butts, those eyes when they open for the first time…
The curiosity, and even the hissing is just adorable. 
But what happens when we take away those little furry bubbles from their mother a little too early?

So often, Non-responsible breeders who are just looking to get the best, fastest benefits out of their animals, urge people and start selling baby kittens at about 40 days old. And even though, according to vets, a 40 days old kitten could survive on its own.  However, there’s a huge difference between merely “surviving”, and taking time to develop properly to get the most benefits, they are intended to get from their mama.

Regardless of some unfortunate situations when a New Mama cat abandons her newborns, or passes away leaving her kittens on their own, kittens should be left to their mother, until she naturally starts rejecting them.

Leave it to instinct… Mama Cat Knows Best Cat

Kittens can acquire a lot of negative behaviors because of this early separation, as well as health deficiencies. A mother cat wean her babies naturally when kittens are about 2-3 months old, by starting to reject her kittens.


So what happens when you separate the kittens too early?


I. Health Problems:

Nothing in the world replaces a mother’s milk… Not even baby kitten formulas.
A mother’s milk help baby kittens grow into strong, healthy cats, as much as a mother’s milk does to human babies.
So kittens separated early from their mama, may become weak, and easily prone to illness, as their body lacks natural antibiotics that they naturally get from their mother’s milk.


II. Behavioral problems:

1. Fearful play..anxiety and panic attacks!

kittens can learn to get their sense of security from their human companions. But before that, they get their safety and calmness from their mother. So, early separated cats are more likely to be more fearful, until properly socialized.


2. Biting and rough playWhat Happens if a kitten is separated to early from its mama?- Bitting - Petsoholic

If you find your kitten biting on your hand “playfully” a little too hard that it drowse blood, there’s a good chance that she was taken away a little early before learning those skills.

Kittens, and all baby animals actually, learn how to give us soft bites and pull their claws in from their mother and siblings through play time. Playtime teaches kittens how far to go, and where to back down while playing, so they learn to use their tools right.
However, behavioral issues could be treated with the right training and patience.


3. Litter box problems.

At that early age, kittens learn everything by copying their mother. a well litter-trained mama cat, is more likely to give us well litter-trained kittens. So its easier to train them when they come home.
That being said, if your cat or kitten is not using the litter-box properly, that does not mean she must have been separated early.

I have another article explaining everything Litter-box related in details, so here’s the link, if you want to Learn how to properly Litter-box train or Re-train your Cat/kitten


You May Also Like:

Bringing a new Cat Home
Why should you never feed your cat a Dry Food ONLY diet?
11 Things to consider before choosing your First Pet


Hope you found that useful.. I’ll See you next time ✌️


13 replies on “What happens if a kitten is separated too early from its mama?”

My kitten wants to suck my hand, face, anything he can get hold of and goes into a frenzy of suckling. Eyes closed, ears back and will do this as long as you let him. I suspect he was separated too early and feel sorry for him. What can I do?


Hi Lynne,
Well you guessed right. Little kittens tend to do that when separated early before weaning.
Poor think she just thinks she’s nursing.. And it’s really ok. You just need to break her out of this habit. How old is your kitten?
Just give her lots of love, and every time she starts nursing on your hand or on anything gently put her away or walk away, and repeat this every time she does it. Time after time she will learn to stop this behavior.
Just like a mother cat would walk away when she’s weaning her kittens.

If you have any more questions please let me know…


We have adopted an abandoned kitten, who was a stray, and separated from it’s mother too soon. How does one teach him to play a little less rough and to not bite and scratch us?


I have a kitten that I brought as a 8 week old, took him to the vets for his 12 week vacs and found out he was only just 8 weeks then so I was sold him at 5 weeks 😦 he is now about 4 months old and I got him a play mate so he’s not alone when I’m at work (play mate is just 3 months) and all the older one wants to do is chase and attack the little on constantly, at the minute they are in separate rooms but constantly meow at the door separating them yet as soon as I open it the older one pins the little one down, the little one will hiss and squeal when the play gets too rough but the older one doesn’t really understand that means no or stop, is there any advice you can give as I know he’s not being aggressive as there is no hissing, growling, puffed fur or arched back etc and the little one bites and nibbles back, and when they are sleepy they will cuddle up happily so just not sure how to help the older one learn when enough is enough 😦


Hi Nicola.. Hope you’re doing well…

Well according to what you told me I think we’re facing a behavioral problem because your little guy was separated early from his siblings so he didn’t learn how to play gently.. So you need to work on training him as early as you can to change this behaviour…

I was very happy to hear that when they’re sleepy they cuddle together.. Because this means that we are of to a good start..

So since you are sure that he’s not being aggressive (intentionally)
And he’s just trying to play, then here’s what I think you should do…
Here’s the thing.. Kittens loveeee to play.. But he needs to learn to do it a little more gentle right?

So here’s what I advice you to do:
First things start with the basics:
1. Make sure you have seperate food and water bowls/plates for each cat

2. Play with your kitten more.. The little guy has a lottt of energy inside that needs to come out so play with him everyday.. (but never with your hands) use toys and make his chase them around.. This will take some of the energy off the other kitten…

3. Everytime he starts playing rough (either with you or with the other kitten).. Simply remove him from the situation, for a couple of seconds and then let him get back to play (it’s like pushing a restart button).

4. everytime he plays gently and shows a gentle positive behavior towards the other kitten reward BOTH kittens with their favorite treat (immediately)

5. Know that when the little kitten hisses at him, that’s not really a bad thing (as long as they’re not being aggressive) because this will teach him to slow down (kindda like what he should have learned from his mama or siblings)

Remember: The most important tip with anyyy pet training is “consistency” stay consistent with training him/her and don’t let it pass even for 1 time…

I tried to sum of the most important tips for you.. But I’ll try to write an elaborated article about this topic to help you out more as soon as possible… But until then I hope these tips can help u a little bit…
Please keep me updated and we will try to work on this together.. ??
And If you want to get faster replies please send me a message on Facebook or Instagram and I’ll make sure to answer back ASAP… 🙂


Hello, we just got a kitten that is believed to be 6 weeks old. We haven’t taken him to the vet yet, but as soon as we can get him in I’ll ask the vet these questions of course! I’m worried that he was taken from his mama too early. Is there any food/formula or supplement that could help the kittens immune system in some small way? Is there anything we can do now to hopefully combat any negative behavior issues that would arise from leaving his mama too soon? He tends to cry a lot unless he can see us or be held. Please send me an email back, thank you!


So the other day we had a kitten we took into our care pass. The kitten was one of 5 and the mother abandoned them. The kitten started to become lethargic and shaking. At one point the kitten collapsed and it passed. The next day which would be today another one is starting to do the same as the one that passed. I have no clue what is going on. They are just about a month


Hi. We adopted a kitten from a shelter in October of last year. He was 11 weeks when we got him. He was with what we were told was his liter mate. The behavior I find unusual for a cat is he often appears to become intensely “clingy” somewhat like a toddler. He’ll follow me around the house meowing. He’ll jump up on whatever is nearby and reach for me. I’ve had him jump from the dresser at me to get in my arms. I hold, pet, caress, and sooth him for as long as I can and at other times when he’s not feeling so needy. What do you think is the cause of this behavior and how can I discourage it?


Hello Camille.. Hope you’re doing well..

This is kinda normal for a kitten.. Depending on his breed and personality.. some cats can be clingy like that and others just like to be left alone.. It’s just cause he loves you… Don’t worry cause most kittens will slow down with their affections and their energy level drops a little when they grow out of the kitten phase.
However, to discourage this behavior, is to just simply ignore him when he jumps at you, don’t pet him or show him any attention when he jumps at you for example, just simple put him down and go.
Once he sits away or calms down, immediately give him affection then.

To sum up: ignore the behavior you would like to discourage.
Any kind of attention you give him he will consider it as a reward: even if you yell at him or tell him no no or stop…etc, so just ignore him at that exact moment.
And reward him when he does the behavior that you like..

Hope you found that useful and please let me know if you need anything else or have any other questions.. Thanks 🙂


My wife and I adopted our little cat Benny when she was very young, and the more I read the more I realize that we got her a few weeks too early. She’s great with me, outside of some usual kitten behavior, but she’s constantly trying to attack my wife. I mean it’s constant. It seems like it’s beyond play at this point and seems intentionally aggressive. Is there anything we can do? We absolutely LOVE our cat and she brings a lot of joy in our house, but I can tell it’s starting to get to my wife. Thanks in advance!


Hello Erik. Hope you’re doing well..
I’m so sorry to hear that. However, it’s nothing to worry about all cats can be retrained and have their behaviors adjusted if you do it right. But I’m gonna need more information to help you out.
1. First of all, does your cat attack your wife randomly or are there certain triggers that turn on the aggressive behavior?

2. How old is your cat?

3. Do you free feed your cat? meaning do you leave her bowl full all the time or do you give her meals throughout the day?
If you free feed her this is one of the biggest mistakes that affects both your cat’s behavior and health.
So you can start by giving her 3 or 4 meals/ day. or when she asks you for it… and let your wife be the one in charge for putting her food

4. Is your cat spayed? If not, do you allow her to mate?
If you did not do either one of those, then this means that your cat is veryyyy hormonal and this one of the biggest reasons of aggression in cats, I mean imagine your self in her place… And she maybe taking it out on your wife since she’s the other “female” around the house. and cats do sense the difference between genders and she may even show sexual behaviors towards you as the “male” in the house. Which is sooo bad and not to mention that it will also affect your cat’s health on the long run.
So the best solution is to either get her spayed or to allow how to mate (responsibly).

5. Do you play with your cat everyday?
Cats have a lot of energy inside them even the ones that seem to be the laziest. They need to “hunt” and inside our houses they’re not allowed to do that. So you need to mimik this by playing with your cat every single day, or she will turn to you or in your case its your wife who get it.
And it’s important that your wife is involved in the process so she may play with her for a while and you can play with her for a while.

6. Do you use your Hands to play with your cat? If you do, this is sooo wrong because it make your cat think that your hand is a toy so by time she starts attacking…
So alwayssss use toys and NOT your hand…

7. Does your cat suffer from any health issues?

please let me know the answers so I can help you further and hopefully we can change your cat’s aggressive behavior towards your wife… 🙂


So I don’t know how to describe this but I found this kitten a couple days ago. She’s around 4-5 weeks old and for some reason she can hear everything else except for me. She typically responds to other noises but has a harder time with other ones. I’ve done some research and shes not white nor does she have blue eyes so I don’t believe she could be deaf. Could her being a poor listener be the result of her being separated from her mother too early? If so what can I do?


Hello Jocelyn.. Hope you’re doing great…
Being separated early from the mother could cause behavioral issues, but it wouldn’t affect her hearing abilities…
There could be 2 reasons for this…
Cats are their own bosses, and they have what is called “selective hearing”, meaning that they choose to listen to what they want, and they wil not listen or “pretend” not to listen if they’re simply not in the mood to do so.. kinda like a stubborn toddler… 😀
So what you’re describing is pretty normal as long as her ears responds to sounds… Try testing her ears by clicking your hand near her ears, if they move in response she’s probably just fine…
However, if you are still concerned, then you should go get her checked at the vet just to make sure that everything is fine… 🙂
Hope that was helpful, and please let me know if you have anymore questions I’d love to help.. 🙂

For faster response, please send me a message on my Facebook or Instagram pages:
Instagram: Petsoholic –


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