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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How to age a kitten - visual guide

Apart from markers such as the growth of molars, the best way to age a kitten is by the posture and size, which is how we at Love Kuching age the kittens we rescue. This pictorial guide shown above is a good visual aid in aging a kitten, taken from the book Essential Cat by Caroline Davis.

A kitten will start to attain a more upright posture - both sitting and standing - only after 5 weeks of age. This means a kitten above the age of five weeks sits up straight like an adult cat. Kittens under and up to the age of 5 weeks old will have a kitten posture, a bit wobbly on the hindlegs, and round instead of upright and erect.

Kittens are best rescued for re-homing under and up to the age of 8 weeks old, maximum 12 weeks old - otherwise they become to accustomed to life on the street and may remain feral for the rest of its life, thus unsuitable for becoming a domestic pet.

So do take note of the age of the kittens that you see on the street - not all are young enough for rescue and re-homing.

Not sure if the kitten you saw needs rescue? Here is a simple check-list:

  • Is the kitten under 4 weeks of age? If so, does it have a mother cat? If yes, do not remove the kittens from the mother until it reaches 3-5 weeks of age. 
  • Kittens between 4 weeks to 8 weeks of age are ideal for rescue and re-homing.
  • Is the kitten more than 12 weeks old? If so, allow the kitten to remain as a stray as it has very little chance of being domesticated and re-homed and may end up becoming a permanent shelter cat  or being re-released back on to the streets.
  • If the cat is obviously a newly abandoned cat - just sighted, well groomed, pedigree, wearing a collar - and reporting it as lost has had no results of the cat being claimed by an owner, then this cat is suitable for re-homing despite of age. If the cat has been abandoned for a long time, it is already accustomed to stray life and will not be suitable for re-homing.
If you have found a stray kitten and wish us to help in fostering and re-homing it, do check this chart and check-list before assessing if it is indeed suitable for re-homing. And if still in doubt about its age, measure its length and communicate it to us, so you don't have to make a wasted trip to our foster home only to release it back to its stray territory because it is too old.