Motherly love is incomparable, it is something that can be seen and felt both in humans and animals. If you keep a pet, whether it be a dog or cat, you would have at least once noticed how your mother cat or dog will be willing to go the extra mile to protect their young ones.
On a similar note, you will also have witnessed how the kittens respond to the motherly care by attaching themselves to their mother almost all the time.
If you have observed this, you may have wondered if they are inseparable and if it is possible, “does a mother cat forget her kittens?” and vice versa. We will be looking into this in highly informative guide, while also unraveling the intricacies surrounding a mother cat kitten relationship.
Will my cat forget her kitten?
Yes, with time, your cat will forget about her kittens. Watching how much your cat cares for her kittens, and how much they spend time together may convince you to believe that they can never live apart from each other and that even if they do, they are not likely to forget each other. You had better snap out of it because that’s entirely not true!
Although every mother cat leaves their scent on their kittens for identification, regardless, after about 10 weeks I.e. after the weaning stage, most kittens will grow apart from their mothers which will consequently weaken the bond with their mother. Ultimately, the scent left on them by their mother will also fade with time, causing the mother cat to lose the memory of her kittens.
Does a mother cat remember her kittens?
No, a mother cat does not remember her kittens. Cats are not humans and do not have a photographic memory of their kittens, all a mother cat rely on to remember her kittens is the scent she leaves on them.
Once this scent fades, your cat will lose all the memory she has about her kittens. If you so much want the memory to last for a long time, do well to keep your queen and her kittens together all the time. As long as they remain together, the scent will not fade away.
How long does it take for a mother cat to forget her kittens?
Logically, a mother cat should forget her kittens about 10 to 12 weeks after birth. With that said, note that tlis merely a weaning stage where most kittens are expected to be ready to start their own life after learning all the necessary skills needed to survive on their own.
If they eventually leave their mother, then it will take that much time. If by grooming, they remain with their mother, it will take a longer time before their mother finally forgets about them.
Do mother cats know when a kitten is missing?
Yes, mother cats know when their kitten is missing. Before the weaning stage, mother cats are always around their kittens providing them with all they need to survive, if during this period, one of her kittens goes missing, she will search for the kitten relentlessly for weeks before she finally forgets about it.
If this happens during the weaning stage (10 to 12 weeks after birth) the mother cat may not search for the kitten because the motherly instinct will tell her that it is time for the kitten to search for a new home.
Do cats care about kittens?
Yes, cats care about kittens. For cats, motherly care begins right from the point of birth and this will continue until after the weaning stage when the kittens are believed to be mature enough to fend for themselves.
In fact, during the pre-weaning stage, male cats also join hands to care for the kittens by becoming less aggressive towards them. Also, they offer protection for the kittens against attacks from other pets.
Do cats miss their kittens?
No, cats don’t miss their kittens. Cats may be very affectionate, and during the period when her kittens are still with her, she will do whatever it takes to ensure that they survive.
Interestingly, once her kitten’s clock is weaning stage and they leave her, she moves on too without looking back. Even if this happens in the pre-weaning stage, she’s only going to look for the kittens for a few weeks and then forget about them unless they return with the scent she left on them.
How long do kittens nurse?
When a kitten is in the nursing stage, such kittens will rely on their mother for everything — food, shelter, and safety which is a part of the pre-weaning stage.
Ideally, once a kitten transitions from relying on her mother’s milk or bottled milk (if orphaned) to surviving on solid food that is when nursing should stop which is a period between 10 to 12 weeks after birth. Although, most kittens will be ready to stop nursing from 4 to 6 weeks after birth.
When can kittens leave their mother?
Kittens can leave their mother once they stop relying on them for food. This simply means that such kittens can now fully digest solid food. Most times this usually happens when kittens clock 8 to 10 weeks.
Nonetheless, it will be a bit early to separate them from their mother during this period because apart from food, they still have to learn some survival skills from their mother which is why it is often suggested that the ideal separation period should be 12 weeks.
By this time, the kittens would have been fully groomed and ready to take on a new adventure.
What happens if you take a kitten away from its mother too early?
It is not advisable to separate your kittens away from their mother at the early stage. This is because it will affect both their psychological well-being and general health status.
The first implication of taking a kitten away from its mother prematurely is that they will lack access to crucial nutrients that are germane to their well-being which could only be provided through breastfeeding. Although there are substitutes, they are not as nutritional as the milk provided by a mother cat.
Another area where a kitten is separated earlier from its mother is the aspect of social skills. Just like humans, kittens rely on their mother to teach them how to relate with their siblings and other cats and if a kitten is separated or raised alone without a mother, it will be very hard for such kittens to get along with others. Kittens with this kind of upbringing tend to be rather more aggressive compared to their peers. Although some may be shy rather than offensive.
Do mother cats get sad when their kittens are taken away?
No, mother cats don’t get sad when their kittens are taken away. Cats may be affectionate, but when it comes to empathy, they are weak in comparison to humans.
Although if you try to take a kitten away from its mother, reactively, the mother may want to attack you especially when the kitten is still nursing. This is merely a display of motherly protective instinct as they tend to most of the time forget such ever happened in no time.
Is it cruel to separate kittens from their mother?
Yes, it is cruel to separate kittens from their mother. If you are separating kittens from their mother, make sure it is with good intentions. For example, taking them away from a mother with an infectious disease.
If for other reasons like gifting them to a friend or selling them, that is absolute cruelty because you will be endangering the lives of those kittens. Although they may survive, the deprivation of motherly care will impact negatively on them in the long run.
What happens when you take kittens away from their mother?
A kitten taken away from its mother may suffer severe health complications and develop poor socialization skills.
Do mom cats get depressed when their kittens leave?
No, mom cats do not get depressed if their kitten leaves. Instinctively, mother cats already know that sooner or later their kittens will leave her to start their own life, and that’s why it is very unlikely for them to be depressed when their fear becomes reality.
How to comfort a mother cat who lost her kitten
1. Make time for your feline companion
At a time like this, your feline friend will need you more than ever and it is only rational that you create extra time for her even if you are a busy type.
Note that, the essence of spending some time together is to divert the attention of your cat to another thing. And therefore, you must make every moment count. Play her favorite game with her, and buy her a special treat or food. Engage in any activity that will trigger excitement in her.
2. Show her more affection
After your cat lost her kitten, you can let her feel how much you care about her by petting her frequently. When cats consider you a friend, they look staringly at you and maybe wink afterward, which means eye contact is something they understand very well.
Maintain eye contact with them while grieving and constantly engage in a dialogue routine with her. You can just give her simple instructions like, “Bella, let’s go for a walk” although she might not understand you, that would provide a moment of distraction.
3. Keep her within the company of her friends
If your cat is the type that enjoys making friends, you can bring in cats she considers friendly so that they can play and interact with her. She can even appreciate having them around because they can communicate more on a similar level.
During this period, she is hanging out with her friends, she is less likely to be concerned about her grief.
4. Do not encourage a bad attitude
While your cat grieves, she may tend to show some strange behavior like making vocalizations without provocations. While she’s at it, make sure you don’t reinforce that attitude by trying to give her a treat to stop. Instead, instruct her to shut up and reward her if she complies.
The reward can come in other forms like hugging or calling her to break her howling cycle, instead of you approaching her which she may construe to mean an acknowledgment.
Do cats mourn the death of their kittens?
Yes, cats do mourn their dead kittens. Cats may not be as empathetic or emotional as humans, but they do feel the loss of a close companion whether it be a human or another cat, and mourn them. Although they may not be able to make known orally that they are mourning a friend, certain signs indicate that they are in a mourning mood. Some of these signs include,
- They become more isolated during the time of grief. A grieving cat may be seen lying lonely under the bed all day.
- They may lose appetite and the urge to play around.
- They may sleep longer than they used to, and become sluggish if they used to be an energetic cats.
When do mother cats leave their kittens in the wild?
The wild is a dangerous world for cats, especially the younger ones, so the earlier they can fend for themselves the better.
Mother cats in general (lion, cheetah, and the likes) will leave their curbs in search of food when they are around 6 weeks. Although during this time, they will still very much be under the protection of their mother.
Asides from abandoning them in search of food, cats in the wild will often deliberately restrict their kittens from nursing on attaining this age to prepare their mind for hunting for food by themselves.
The unique literary talents of Dr. A. Barton are well known throughout the veterinary profession. He is a regular contributor to the New York City Veterinarian and his professional articles have also appeared in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Journal of Small Animal Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Cornell Veterinarian and Philadelphia Medicine. He is the only veterinarian ever to have had an article published in the human medical publication, What’s New.