Cat Forum banner

1 - 7 of 7 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I posted the following in the Intro forum but am myself guilty of not reading newbie posts on other boards I am on so hopefully might get a response in one of the main forums?

Like I said in my intro, I am a foster for our local shelter and have been for about 6mo now. Up until recently we have just had kittens who are 4 weeks and up, old enough to be away from their mother but the foster coordinator asked if we would try a 2 day old litter of 5 with their semi-feral mom and we went for it. Everyone has been pristinely healthy, the mom has done a great job, and the kittens are all fat and sassy having just turned 5 weeks last Tuesday and the smallest one is 1lb 4oz.

So now mom seems like she is about done with them. She hisses, growls, scratches when they try to nurse, cuddle, or even get near the food dish when she is around...but only sometimes? She isn't the kind of cat who climbs to get away, she stays low to the ground so she lays on the floor where they can reach her or have to walk by her to get to the food or litter box. I know I am putting human emotions on animals but they seem so sad about it :sad: Just a few minutes ago one of the babies woke up to see all his siblings had gone to another part of the room so he started meowing loudly so momma perked up making the "Meeeerrrrowr?" kind of call to them and they all came running to her. She licked them and let them nurse like she used to and they all passed out in a milk induced coma. She got up, they all got up and meowing and rubbing on her, she licked a few times, then she was hissing and spitting and scratching at them.

Is this Mommy Dearest bi-polar type behavior normal?? Will she hurt them? The shelter said moms are usually done with the babies by 8 weeks, should I bring her back this soon? The plan is to obviously spay mommy as soon as her mammaries reduce and she will most likely be adopted out as a barn cat because of her semi-feral nature while the babies are spayed at 2lbs before being adopted out. The foster coordinator is on vacation this week so I don't have my usual go-to person to ask.

Thanks in advance!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,152 Posts
I haven't dealt with ferals before, but even with purebreds, queens vary in how long they will let their kitties nurse. What you are seeing falls within "normal behavior". I've had queens who never want to give up nursing and others that ignore their kittens (and occasionally nasty with them) around about 8 or 9 weeks. By that time kittens are eating well on their own and ready to be weaned. She likely won't hurt them, but is discouraging them strongly from wanting to nurse. If her milk is drying up, you could separate her from them for half a day, and only let them nurse of her very briefly just to relieve any milk buildup, but not enough to stimulate production. Her "discipline" is her method of teaching them manners and body language, so it is a valuable lesson for kitties to learn.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the info! Its just such a 180 from even last week when she was letting them climb all over her and this week, she's done! She is making contact when she smacks them, I just can't tell if she has her claws out so I am worried about her getting them in the face. If only she were a climber she could just get up on the bed out of their reach but she insists on just laying there on her side as if daring them to nurse. The smartest, most outgoing one is giving her a wide berth, even if she does let them nurse or get close, he isn't trusting her at all at this point.

One thing I think must be unique to ferals is she is definitely a "Me first!" personality. If she gets spooked she will take off and leave the babies, even when they were tiny. Definitely not Mother of the Year...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,199 Posts
I'd call it normal too. The kittens are getting teeth, which probably hurts a LOT for poor mum-cat.

As for her running away when scared...as far as nature is concerned if the adult gets away they can always make more babies. I know as humans we don't think that way, but that's the way of the wild unfortunately.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
9,138 Posts
I’ve done full-ferals and kittens. This is normal behavior. She thinks it time for the kittens to start eating some normal food.

Are you free feeding the mother and kittens? Are the mother and kittens being offered soft kitten food? It takes a lot of calories to nurse so it’s important to have hard and soft kitten food and liquids available 24/7 for her and her kittens. If she isn’t getting enough calories she may be drying up.

If they are 4 weeks they are ready to start eating some soft food. Sometimes we mix in the Glop milk or KMR in with the soft food for starters.

We usually remove kittens from feral moms around 6 weeks so she can’t teach them too many feral traits. Normal domestic kittens should stay 12 weeks, ideally.

We separate the mother from the kittens when we are going to spay her. It takes about a week for a mom to dry up.. I personally hate that part of the process. Its kinda sad, in my mind.. but that is me.

Hope this helps.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Oh yes, mom has had free access to dry kitten food and water the entire time and wet food twice a day and the babies have been eating wet kitten food for a little more than a week now. She is a smaller cat and on the thinner side but she eats voraciously and poops up a storm as a result. I think at this point the kittens total weight is probably more than hers so yeah, they are sucking her dry I'm sure. I

had just thought since she was a very attentive mother in the beginning that she would hold out a little longer than 5 weeks, the shelter said the average was 8-9 weeks but they didn't know she was semi-feral when they got her. She was a transfer from the county shelter who sent her and her 2 day old babies in a *tiny* little crate in the back of a pick up truck down a freeway and they had me pick her up less than an hour later so they assumed her shell shocked demeanor was from the trauma of the transportation from the county facility.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
9,138 Posts
Aww it is so nice youve given her this chance to safely raise her kittens and get fattened up. Have her at a decent weight before you spay her if the shelter will let you. Do you know their plans for her since she is semi feral?
 
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
Top