What is the best age to adopt a British Shorthair Kitten

When you are looking to adopt a new British Shorthair kitten family member you will have lots of questions including what age should they be when you take them home. The reality will be when the breeder says so but that in itself can tell you a lot about the kitten you are going to get. It is a really good question to ask early on before you pay your deposit.

How young is too young?

Kittens are not puppies but for some reason people seem to apply the same adoption age to them. Puppies can be adopted a little younger. They are more independent and ready but to be honest there is also a misconception about the age of adoption for them too. You might hear six weeks. Maybe back in the day that was okay but really they should be eight weeks or even ten to twelve weeks.

Lets look at the most common age brackets for kittens and what the difference is between them for a British Shorthair kitten

Eight Weeks Old

Eight week old British Shorthair kitten
Eight week old British Shorthair kitten

The minimum age for a kitten is often said to be eight weeks but that is the very youngest you should consider adopting a cat generally. However it is very, very young and the truth is that age is for a domestic cat in a rescue or shelter situation.

In that scenario yes, they do want you to adopt the kitten very young as your home is probably better for it than the shelter. Also when you take it home you make space for another kitten to be saved. Lastly that kitten is unlikely to be desexed. The rescue group will have things in place to make sure it will be but they dont do it.

You can’t apply that same age to a British Shorthair kitten from a breeder. It’s too young. They are a slow to mature breed and there is a huge difference in social maturity between eight and twelve weeks. The breeder doesn’t need the kitten to leave as soon as possible like a rescue group might. The kitten is not going to be better off in your home rather than theirs.

At eight weeks old your British Shorthair kitten it may be still not used to people. It is likely to be scared, hissy and skittish. You may not be able to easily pick it up. It will get better but it takes time.

When people come to visit their kittens from eight weeks after their first vaccination I often have to explain that this is not how they will be when they come back to collect them in a few weeks time. When they do come to take them home they will often say wow they are so much friendlier now.

Pamela Lanigan – Cuddleton British Shorthairs

An eight week old British Shorthair kitten will have only been eating solid food a short while. It wont yet have good body cover (weight). This is an issue as when you take it home it most likely wont eat well for a day or two. It wont have the extra padding it needs for that.

It also means it’s digestive system is likely to be still adjusting and it will be more prone to tummy upsets. It will be litter tray trained but still learning so it is more likely to have accidents around your home than an older kitten. Then there is vaccinations. It will only have had one at six or eight weeks.

Important to note: It’s is the case that in Australia all registering bodies for pedigree cats consider this too young and a breach of their breeding rules. Sure this doesn’t affect you directly but they have the rule with the best interests of the kitten at heart and that should make you think.

Also if the breeder is willing to breach those rules they are either not registered or feel the risk is worth it to move the kitten on sooner. Ask yourself why? The answer is often they dont have to pay desexing costs, for the second vaccination, for more weeks food and litter.

Read more about registrations and pedigrees here

Ten Weeks Old

ten week old British Shorthair kitten
Ten week old British Shorthair Kitten

For the British Shorthair breed this is the true minimum age you should adopt a kitten. And its still too young. Lets look at why.

At ten weeks the average kitten is probably ready to go to a new home but not a British Shorthair. They are slow to mature. It will be more used to people but still may not be easy to pick up. It will be used to using it’s litter tray but may still have accidents. It’s tummy will be better at processing solid food but it may still get upsets.

The kitten wont be desexed. Many states in Australia legally require a kitten to be desexed before it is sold. Most vets will only desex from around twelve weeks when the kittens weigh over 1kg. So as an owner you may be entitled to your kitten being desexed included in the cost of your kitten.

A breeder that lets a kitten go at ten weeks is not doing anything wrong depending on the state laws regarding desexing etc. But it is seen as the minimum age for the breed so agin you need to ask why they are not wanting to wait two more weeks.

Twelve Weeks Old

Twelve week old British Shorthair kitten
Twelve week old British Shorthair kitten

The best age to adopt a British Shorthair kitten is around twelve weeks. At this age they are much more relaxed around people. They are easier to pick up, should have good body coverage and be eating really well. They know all about using the litter tray and accidents should be unlikely. They are a lot more prepared to leave their siblings and go to your home where they will settle in sooner.

More importantly they should be desexed, mocrochipped and have their second vaccination. This means you wont have the stress of doing those things. Your kitten will still be adorable, just not teeny and fragile.

A good breeder will keep them till twelve weeks to make sure they get the best start in life. They also want you to have the best experience with them when you do take them home. It may seem like a long wait but it is worth it.


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