Last week I was midwife to my friend’s two female cats who gave birth 3 days apart. Both litters have the same daddy and all the cats live under the same roof.
So, the older cat, Sally (she’s 2 or 3) gave birth to 3 kittens. All healthy and doing well. Three days later, the younger cat, Cornelia (she’s 10 months old) gave birth to 6 (yep, 6!) healthy kitties.
The Mamas and their babies are in separate rooms with their little nesting boxes. Well, on Saturday (litter one at 6 days old and litter two at 3 days old) Sally, snuck into Cornelia’s nesting box and stole two of the babies and took them to her nesting box! She is nursing them and taking good care of them.
We’re scrathing our heads though. Why did she do this? Cornelia has made no attempts to retrieve the two and both Mamas get along and have checked out each other’s litters and have done nothing to harm each other’s babies.
One thing we thought was that Sally thougth Cornelia needed help since she had so many or maybe Sally was jealous because she only had three.
Can someone enlighten me on Mama kitty behavior? This is the first time I’ve ever been around newborn kittens before so this is unchartered territory for me.
Cats sometimes do strange things. However I’m particularly shocked that your friend has a house with an unneutered male and two unspayed females. I’m horrified that they allowed a 10 month old kitten to become pregnant and have a litter of kittens herself. Please please please strongly encourage your friend to have all the cats in the house fixed. I’m sorry if I’m completely going off the topic but things like this are what really upset me since they can be prevented. The pound has enough kittens as it is
Very normal and common behaviour. Also, AuntFlow’s comments are valid. What would have happened if there were complications during delivery? About 60 percent of the feline dystocias that I see wind up as euthanasias, as the owner cannot afford a C section. A cat spay at my practice is $85, even if she is pregnant. C sections start at $650.
Yeah, my partner and I already gave her the third degree. What happened was, she started off with two cats. A boy who was neuterd and a girl. (Indoor cats only) The boy was old and died. She and someone from work decided to breed their two cats then have them fixed. (I don’t get it either) But nothing happened.
Enter new male kitten she finds at work. Then months later she finds a female kitten out in a cornfield. She waits until boy cat is four months old and gets him neutered. Oops, too late. He had already gotten to the two girls. sigh
The new problem, if she can’t find homes for the NINE! babies, she will keep them. Well, now she has to get those fixed or else they’ll be fruitful and multiply too.
Believe me, I don’t condone not getting cats fixed. All 5 of my pets (3 cats, two dogs) are fixed. We basically told her, you goofed, now you got to take care of the ones that don’t find homes.
Forgive me if I sound rude, but I’d much rather she surrender the kittens to the local humane society rather than keep them herself. Anyone who wants to breed cats or dogs or whatever just for the hell of it is not a responsible pet owner and shouldn’t be allowed to own animals. But then again that’s my opinion. Good of you to tell her the hard truth about what she did though.
I know it was irresponsible on her part to not get “Daddy” neutered before he had a chance at the girls but I think she learned her lesson. I can say though, she really is a good pet owner. She takes very good care of her babies, otherwise. I couldn’t be friends with someone who was anything but loving and responsible with their animals.
Does anyone know why this is common?
Also, she lives next door to a vet and we did run Sally over there at one point because we thought there was something wrong. There wasn’t, she was just a slow "birther. The young one, surprisingly, had no complications. I was concerned that it would be too hard on her young body. FWIW the girls are getting spayed when the kittens are done nursing.
I do have to say, it was an amazing thing, to watch and help in the birthing process. It was beautiful, actually. It was just quite a hoot to see Sally kidnapping Corny’s babies.
Once we had two female cats who were pregnant around the same time. One had a single kitten, and the other had a stillbirth. Both mothers shared the kitten and everyone came out a winner as far as I can see. We still have the kitten, who at 23# is many, many, many times the cat he was.
I wonder if mother cats in this situation will share nursing duties so the mother with few or no kittens of her own can unburden herself of some of her milk?
She must not have known about Pediatric Spay/Neuter! Kittens can be S/N as young as 8 weeks or 2.5 pounds. If your (general “you”) vet doesn’t practice it, ask WHY. And then find one who does.
Good for you for giving her the third degree. I would also not recommend keeping a bunch of the kittens. Kittens born inside, with proper care since birth, should have no problems being accepted at a shelter and no problems being adopted. (That is, sometimes shelters are reluctant to accept kittens for adoption whose origins and health status is unknown. [They might accept them, but not for adoption, if you get my meaning.] Healthy home-raised kittens are every shelter’s dream.
And where are the pictures, bub? What the heck’s wrong with you???
Yeah, my newest cat Geoffy, was neutered at 6 weeks. You’re preaching to the choir on that one. We are doing our best to adopt them out. She works at a college and has all her friends trying to find good homes. We may have two adopted out already when they are of age.
In my youth, many years ago, a friend had two females who delivered a day apart. After the kittens started moving around, they would nurse whatever mother was lying down at the moment. Tag-team nursing!
Glad your friend is going to get the momas spayed. Ask her to keep an eye on the moms and not let them out (if they go out) until they are spayed, as they can and will get pregnant while they are still nursing.
Was Cornelia around when Sally was checking out her kittens? If not, instinct might have taken over. She’s a mama-- there was a kitten crying for milk. She doesn’t think in terms of “my kitten” and “your kitten”, she just sees a hungry baby. The only time cats seem to get posessive of their offspring is if there is a perception of threat.
When I was a kid, we had barn cats which would all seemingly give birth at the same time. My cousins and I would often go from nest to nest, collecting kittens to play with, and haphazardly return them, because we couldn’t always remember which cat had which babies. The cats did not seem to mind-- they would nurse whatever kittens were given to them. On rare occasion, a cat would reject one of her own kitten for some undescernible reason, and another momma would gamely accept it into her brood if we took it to her.
A similar thing happened to my two cats, except that one never had any kittens!
A stray (Fluff) that I took in gave birth, and shortly thereafter my spayed girl Felicity decided she wanted the kittens. So she got in the nesting box and started licking them and cuddling with them, rolling over to allow them to nurse. Of course she had no milk. So Fluff had to force her way back into the box, but Felicity stayed there and helped take care of the babies. It was so cute! Felicity wanted to be a mother so bad.
You think that’s weird? One of the cats who cohabits with my mother adopted one of the other cats in the house… Except the “mother” was four years younger than the “kitten”. We think that part of the problem was that the young cat unfortunately had to be spayed while pregnant (she matured more quickly than she grew, and the vet said she wouldn’t survive giving birth), and we think that her hormones got permanently set in mommy-mode from it. And even though Spunky was the oldest of the cats in the house, she was also the smallest, and so must have seemed to Baby to be the natural choice for the role of “kitten”.
They are also sharing kitten-care duties, so that they can proceed with the instinctual hunting.
We had barn cats on the farm, and I remember seeing one mama carrying her kittens one-by-one over to the other mama’s nest, before leaving on a hunting trip around the farm. She returned later, carrying a mouse. Then proceeded to take her kittens back to her nest, and let them nurse. I guess the other mama cat did the same, because sometimes I found her nest empty, and all the kittens from both litters together in the other nest, with that mama.
Mama cats who are used to each other seem to nurse & care for each others kittens indiscriminately. And both mamas will together hiss & yowl at any tomcat that comes near either nest!