Older kitten nursing from mom - bad idea?

I could use some advice from any veterinary folks out there.

There are several cats that hang around our house, all that remain of a group of “barn cats” that lived down the road from us. We feed and water them, but they are basically outside cats that display varying levels of trust in us. One of these cats, about a year and a half old herself, had her second litter of kittens about five weeks ago in our kitchen (she meowed frantically through the window at us the night she went into labor, and we brought her in). No problem. As soon as this batch of kittens is weaned, we are getting momma fixed and giving the kittens away… but that’s at least a month in the future.

Last Saturday, one of the kittens from her first litter (now five months old) apparently fell out of a tree and chipped her left elbow. She has to have orthopedic surgery to fix this (tomorrow’s task); in the meantime, she is hobbling around with a big pink cast, and the veterinary clinic told us to make certain she’s not outdoors. She too is in the kitchen.

This morning, I walked into the kitchen to find her curled up against momma cat, nursing away. I’m a little concerned about this, because a) she’s big enough to keep the younger kittens from latching on and b) I would think it would put a big strain on momma cat to produce enough milk to feed four tiny kittens PLUS one big kitten (nearly as big as momma cat). Momma cat is herself on the tiny side, plus she’s so young still… Am I right to be concerned about this?

We can’t put the older kitten anywhere else in the house, because that space is already occupied by La Grande Dame Josephine, a 16-yr-old matron who’s already upset that we have these young upstarts in the kitchen (we have to keep them separated lest they fight). Any suggestions about how best to cope with this are appreciated.

If the Mama doesn’t want the usurper there, she’ll do something about it. Maybe she feels that the wounded kitty needs some extra care. If it were my call, I’d make sure there was enough food for Mama and the older kitten, and let Mama decide. I’m not a vet, by the way, just an experienced cat owner.

I’m not a vet either - but I think that the momma cat would make it clear she didn’t like it, unless she’s too weak or exhausted. Do the baby kittens look like they are getting their fill? If so, it’s probably nothing to worry about, but you might want to give your vet a call just to check.

Just to let you know it’s not completely unusual for cats to nurse way past the time they’re supposed to stop: my boy cat, age 3, still tries to nurse from one of my older girl cats (but not the other one). Here’s the kicker: not only is the girl cat NOT his momma, she’s spayed - no milk, no big teats! My boy just gets in there and wads up some fur to make a little mountain and starts sucking away and doing the pattycakes against girl cat’s tummy. It’s really funny. But girl cat doesn’t seem to mind, so I don’t try and stop him.

(My boy was feral and I think he was weaned way too early - he got lost away from his own momma; that’s how he found me.)

OK, it’s good to hear that this behavior isn’t that far out in left field. I’ll leave it up to momma & just keep on eye things for now. Thanks.

We had a cat who would nurse at more than 8 months. Somewhere we’ve got a picture of the mom sitting the way cats normally do, and the youngster has forced his way in between her front legs to reach the nipples.

Another cat that we took in about 16 months ago, as a kitten, somehow imprinted one of our other three cats, Rocco, as his mother. All our cats are male. But the kitten would suck the first joint of Rocco’s front paw; always the same one though I forget which. He kept doing this until he was almost a year old.

My friend had a male cat that as a kitten and beyond would try to nurse this ancient stuffed sheep dog my friend kept on her bed.
It was so cute to watch!

We had a similar situation. Momcat put a stop to it when she was tired of it, and he soon dropped the habit. In short, don’t sweat it.