Charity, Yorkshire Cat Rescue, has launched a new Behaviour Modification Program aimed to help cats and kittens taken from their mothers at just a few weeks old.
The trial is being held by the organisation’s cat care team. Centre manager, Sam Davies said: “We were seeing more and more cats and kittens with behavioural problems that can be traced back to a lack of socialisation when they were very young.
“Sadly, kittens are increasingly being sold as soon as they begin eating solid food – around the age of five weeks. This is far too young for them to leave mum, and they miss out on a crucial period of learning through play with their siblings. The ultimate implication is that they end up being put to sleep because they are unfit as family pets.”
Sam explained how these kittens are part-raised by humans and are, as a result, hugely sociable and attention seeking. But they tend not to know the boundaries for where play turns into unacceptable behaviour such as biting, scratching and pouncing. “Through play learning, these kittens would naturally have learnt where line between fun and fighting goes between the ages of four and nine weeks, had they been allowed to stay with their mum and siblings.”
Sam continued: “If anyone has a litter of young kittens that they can’t continue to look after, please don’t sell them too soon. Instead, contact us or another local animal charity and see if they might be able to place them in a suitable foster home until they are old enough and well-adjusted for the life ahead of them. The skills they learn in those crucial early weeks will determine who they will be for the rest of their lives.”