Separating a kitten from its mother can be a slow process. It varies from kitten to kitten, so knowing when to separate them often comes down to the individual kitten's behavior and age.
- Wait at least 8 weeks after birth
Conflicting information exists about how long to wait before beginning the process of separating a kitten from its mother. A good rule of thumb is to wait around 8 weeks after birth, because kittens at this point are still very adoptable but resilient enough to survive without their mother.
- Socialize the kittens
Normally, it's the mother's job to socialize the newborn kittens. This phase normally takes place around the 6 week mark. If the kittens have not been socialized properly, begin by touching them, petting them, grabbing them and picking them up often.
- Wean the kittens off their mother's milk
If in regular contact with the kittens and mother, wean them off their mother's milk slowly between 4 and 12 weeks old. Occasionally offer them solid food on the side and increase the frequency with which you do this.
- Physically separate the kittens
It's best to wait until the mother strays away from her kittens. In the case of a feral feline, wait until she leaves to find food. If the mother does not leave the kittens, wait until she is distracted and take them.