The other day I was walking in the yard and discovered that one of my wilder barn cats was nursing a kitten in the wet grass. When I went to look closer the mama hissed at me and ran away.
I worried about the kitten in the wet grass, since it looked like it was going to rain, and so I took it in the house and began frantically searching the net for ways to determine the age of kittens.
One site said to compare the kitten size to a ladies’ shoe. If the kitten is the same size as a size 6 shoe, the kitten is 6 weeks old— or older, in Europe where the shoe sizes are different. But I didn’t feel like driving to the shoe store with a kitten in my pocket.
The best sites gave a number of signs but the easiest was the teeth. If the kitten has canine teeth erupted it’s closer to weaning age than a kitten with no erupted teeth.
Sadly, kitten Quodvultdeus (aka ‘Q’) had no erupted teeth and seemed to be 2-3 weeks old. I couldn’t get him to drink kitten milk replacer or eat kitten food and so I had to keep searching for his mama. I found her in the barn and put Q on the floor. She grabbed him, took him to the cat food bulk feeder, and nursed him there. The other cats were not amused.
Mama kitty took Precious Baby off to a hidden spot after that. I haven’t seen him since, but I did manage to pet the mama this morning. She liked it, but then she turned, hissed and slapped my hand.
The best thing about the experience is that now I’ve learned a good rule of thumb about judging kitten ages. If I’d known that when I first saw the kitten, I’d have opened his mouth, seen that he was too young to be away from mama, and left him where he was to let the mama have a good chance to reclaim him.