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Cher
Cher, Feline Specialist
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 18297
Experience:  Feline Healthcare & Behavior Specialist 40+ years Experience
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We have a feral but rather loving cat on our allotments who

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We have a 'feral' but rather loving cat on our allotments who gave birth to 4 kittens 12 days ago.
The kittens seem to make a 'click' noise when their mother isn't there (when she comes back, the noise stops.
I thought it was a sneeze and was a bit worried (at 10 days) but no-one has a runny nose or eyes.
The kittens seem well and content. She's a very attentive mother. She has moved them to what I think is a very cold, damp shed (from the greenhouse I first found them in, the day they were born) so I have made sure they have a warm towel wrapped right around the family are living.
The kittens are starting to crawl out to me at the sound of my soft speaking and their mother is getting lots of love and attention and doesn't seem to mind my presence.
I don't want to disturb the family ideally, while they are well, but I am visiting twice a day to feed the mother and my 'Chicken Chums' at the allotment are visiting at least once during the day to attend to our chooks and also feed Momma Cat. I am planning on getting them seen by a vet at around 6 weeks and planning on getting Momma Cat spayed - I'd like to leave them be until then, unless I spot anything I should worry about.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Cher replied 11 months ago.
Hello, Emma and welcome to Just Answer.

I'm so glad you're able to be there to monitor the kittens and make sure all is well!

Keeping them warm is very important, as you seem to know, and I'm glad you are supplying a warm towel to wrap around them in, in the cold, damp shed. The Greenhouse would have been so much better, but if she chose to move them, it's better not to disturb, unless you feel they are in distress.

I'm happy you reported that the mom-cat is a good mother and really tends to her babies! If they are nursing successfully, are not mewing all the time, have rounded bellies after feeding, and she is cleaning them, stimulating them to eliminate, things sound great. Also, she should be eating high quality kitten food while she's nursing and of course, have clean, fresh water available at all times.

The clicking sound you hear, may be them attempting to nurse when mum is not there (natural sucking reflex). As long as you're checking for any symptoms of URI (kitty colds) daily, and you see none, that's great.

I'm worried about the cold and dampness of the shed, though. As long as momma cat is laying with her babies, she's providing necessary warmth, but when she leaves the nest, the babies might be cold, despite the warm towel you're using. If possible, you can put a heating pad on low under a layer of towels, off to the side of them, but this must be monitored constantly. You can also use a 'rice sock', which is a cotton crew or tube sock filled with uncooked rice, warmed in the microwave and then placed in with the kittens. A hot water bottle wrapped in a towel is also good for this purpose. If they are not already in a nesting box (a nice sized cardboard box with sides too high for them to crawl out, but not too high for momma cat to get in and out, filled with old towels or a folded over blanket) try to make them one, so they are not in direct contact with the cold ground.

I'm glad you're planning on having the mom-cat spayed as soon as the kittens are weaned (this should not be before at least 8 weeks of age); however, even though you don't want to disturb them, it might be a good idea to have mom and babies checked out by the vet now, and not wait 6 weeks. Can a vet come to you? Check your phone book for Mobile and/or Housecall Vets, if you would rather not travel with them.

I think you're doing a fantastic job with your new feline family, and keep up the good work!

If you need any additional information, please click "Reply" to let me know.

If you are satisfied with my answer, a Positive Rating and Feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Best regards,
Cher
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Hi. Thanks for the prompt reply. Sorry I had to go bed before I could answer!!
We haven't been feeding kitten food so far, but it makes sense as it must be richer for little growers so I will be stocking up tomorrow - although Momma Cat hasn't gone hungry as she has been having 6 pouches of food a day plus occasional crunchies and she's eaten most of it.

I'm still reluctant to disturb them for a vet visit as I don't want her to reject them. Also she really trusts me now. I spent 30 minutes with her after work tonight watching her feed and giving her lots of strokes and rubs and the kittens are feeding really well - as much as I'd love to hand rear kittens, it would be better if I didn't have too!
As a nurse I work long hours! Not sure if a vet would visit the site and suspect it would be expensive if they did?

Still hearing that odd noise and I'd still swear it sounded like a sneeze but still no evidence of colds or respiratory tract infections.

I do need to ask - is the mother cat digesting the kitten excrement? I can't fault her housekeeping! There is no sign of faeces or urine smell anywhere. I saw her stimulating a kitten to go tonight and didn't see anything after??
They're certainly content, not mewing all the time - only when she turns around and briefly sits on one! She's let me pick them up with no worries and they look well fed after feeding. Also, the shed is not seeming to be as cold and damp as I thought it might be. They all look warm and cosy.
They all have future homes to go to - 2 are coming to me! I already have 2 mature mogs so the kittens need to be healthy and vaccinated before I have them obviously.

If there is anything you think I've missed or might be missing I'd be glad to know.
Thanks again for your help. Emma
Expert:  Cher replied 11 months ago.
Hi again, Emma and you're most welcome!

Thanks very much for your reply with additional information.

It does sound like the kittens are thriving and that's great news! She is an excellent momma and in answer to your question, yes, when she 'cleans' them with her rough tongue, she stimulates them to eliminate and she does ingest the urine and feces as they come out.

The sound you're hearing, 'may' be a tiny sneeze, but as long as you seen no symptoms of a URI and they continue to nurse and seem content, everything should be fine. Yes, having a vet come to you is more expensive than an office visit, and as long as their thriving and showing no symptoms of illness, you can wait until they're 6 weeks to bring them in, unless you notice any unusual symptoms before then.

I think you may have misunderstood what I said in my previous answer, as I was saying it's important that the nursing MOM cat eats a diet of kitten food, as it contains extra calories and is richer with nutrition, which she needs since she's nursing. However, if she is doing well on her usual diet and eating more than adequately, that should be fine. It's way to early to introduce the kittens to 'solid' (canned) kitten food just yet. That is usually done at about 4-5 weeks of age, although the kittens should still be nursing until about 8 weeks of age. They should not be removed from the mom cat until 12 weeks of age, as that will give them enough time to learn good habits (like litterbox training) and socialization skills from their mom and siblings before they go to their new homes. I'm so glad you already have new homes lined up for them! Laughing

The fact that you are able to hold and pet the kittens and the momma now trusts you is fantastic! The earlier kittens are socialized by humans, the better, as they will adapt better to their new homes.

I'm so glad you've decided to keep 2 of the babies!

Yes, I know nurses work long hours, but it is a wonderful 'helping' profession and bless you for undertaking it! My sister is a nurse here in the US and coincidentally, my friend in Birmingham, UK, is also a nurse!

It's my pleasure to be of help to you and your new feline family and please let me know if you have any other concerns or questions.

Positive feedback would be greatly appreciated and once you rate my answer, please don't worry that we will no longer be able to communicate, because you can click "Reply" at any time and I will always be here to answer any follow up questions you may have.

Keep doing what you're doing--everything is going fine!

Best regards,
Cher
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Thanks. I didn't misunderstand about the food. I figured it would make Momma Cat's milk richer for the babes. I've read it's at least another couple of weeks before introducing food to the babes. If it will make her milk better and help them gain weight, I'll buy her kitten food - anything to help them. You can be assured, if I spot any sign of illness, they'll be whisked to a vet immediately.
Thanks again for your help. Much appreciated.
Emma
Expert:  Cher replied 11 months ago.
Hi again, Emma and you're very welcome!

It's my pleasure to be of help to you and the 'furries'! Laughing

Great! I'm glad you understood about the food for Momma Cat and know it's going to be at least another couple of weeks before the babies can be introduced to 'solid' kitten food. When you're ready to do that, I can help you with the procedure.

You're more fortunate than most, because you are a medical professional, so you know what to look for as far as symptoms of illness.

I hope all continues to go well and please let me know anytime you need additional information.

Enjoy your weekend! (hope you're not working! : ) )

Best regards,
Cher
Cher, Feline Specialist
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 18297
Experience: Feline Healthcare & Behavior Specialist 40+ years Experience
Cher and 2 other Cat Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Cher replied 11 months ago.
Hi again, Emma.

I wanted to thank you for your positive feedback and most generous bonus. They are truly appreciated!

Please keep me posted on how your Momma Cat and little ones are doing, and I'll check back with you in a couple of weeks.

Best regards,
Cher (you will be asked for 'additional information', but none is needed, as this is simply a 'thank you)
Customer: replied 10 months ago.

Hello again.


 


Can cats get post natal depression? This might sound odd, but Momma Cat seems less keen to go back to the kittens after I've fed her.


She mews quietly at me and adores the affection I lavish on her but when I lead her back to the kittens, she doesn't seem to want to settle.


She must be still feeding them as they seem to be well fed, they're not crying out for food or anything like that. They are getting very active and playful when I'm around and seem to enjoy a cuddle - I wonder if she might be jealous??


Momma Cat seems well, she eats well and she runs about fine - she was rolling about like a kitten just now with me and clawing the grass and kicking it at me!


i try to give her as much attention as possible and I don't handle the kittens every time - just look in on them to see that they are all there and ok. They certainly seem to be! I am worried she might be depressed though and I really don't want her to abandon them until they are onto solids.

Expert:  Cher replied 10 months ago.
Hi again, Emma and thanks for your additional question and your update on Momma Cat and her babies!

I'm so glad to hear the babies seem to be well fed and are becoming more active and Momma is also very affectionate and loves your attention.

I don't believe mom-cats suffer from post-partum depression. If she doesn't seem to want to have as much to do with the kittens right now, it's possible that she may be going into heat again. If she's still nursing successfully, you should be able to start them on solids (high quality canned kitten food mixed with water or kitten milk replacement formula like KMR or Just Born to make it of a gruel consistency) at age 4 weeks. From the age you gave me in your first question, I would estimate them to be about 3 weeks old now, so you would need to wait about another week. As long as you are sure they are getting enough milk from the mom, that shouldn't be a problem.

If she is extremely affectionate, as you describe, observe to see if she is very vocal, walking with her rear in the air and tail straight up, but slightly to the side and you did say she was rolling around in the grass. These could be symptoms of her being in heat again, which can happen as soon as 48 hours after giving birth. I certainly hope she is not in heat, but if so, and there are no unneutered males around we don't want her becoming pregnant again.

I don't think she's jealous of you spending time with or handling her babies and if she smells your scent on them, she's used to your scent and finds it a source of comfort, so no, I don't think she minds you touching them at all. However, since you noticed this change in here, make sure to continue to monitor her and the kittens to make sure she's laying with them enough and feeding well.

Please continue to keep me posted on how she and the babies are coming along. Thanks!

Best regards,
Cher
Customer: replied 10 months ago.

Thanks!


I hope she isn't in heat again!! There is a black & white cat lurking around the allotments that I believe to be a boy, but we can't get close enough to tell as 'he' runs away pretty quick (especially after noshing her food!).


The kittens will be 4 weeks oldthis Saturday - 1 June. I put a little of the fishy jelly from a pouch of kitten food on my finger tonight and they all had a sniff, and perhaps got some on their noses, but they didn't try to lick my finger so maybe slightly early yet! 24 days old today!


It's certainly evenings that Momma Cat doesn't want to go back to them - I find her there when I feed her in the mornings so i'm really sure she's feeding them - I'd expect them to be less active and more noisy if they were hungry! They're certainly inquisitive and they love climbing out of the nest onto my lap to see me.


I may take them for a check up at 4 weeks as myself and another allotment holder are thinking of taking them in from 4 weeks (I'm off to France for a fortnight soon and my friend is going to have the family then. By the time I get back they will be old enough to be homed and my 2 friends at work are looking forward to having their babies, as I'm looking forward to having 'Monty and Mabel'!!


Thanks for your advice - I will keep an eye on Momma Cat's behaviour.


Emma

Expert:  Cher replied 10 months ago.

Hi again, Emma and you're most welcome!

Momma Cat may be getting 'antsy' at night, as cats are nocturnal animals and that's usually when they 'hunt', plus, if she's in heat, she's going to be seeking a mate. I do hope that black and white 'male' (if you are correct) doesn't mate with her, but if she's in heat and he's intact, this is a distinct possibility.

Oh, how wonderful, that you will be going to France and your friend will take care of the family, then!

 

Getting them checked by the vet at 4 weeks is a great idea, just to make sure everyone is doing well!

If the babies didn't show any interest in the jelly from the pouched food, it's probably because they're too young and just don't know what to do with it. They are going to have to be taught how to 'lap' from the shallow bowl or flat saucer you offer them the watered down canned kitten food in. Try to get a 'paté' or smooth food, with no slices or chunks. Add water or kitten formula to make it a gruel/soupy consistency, as I mentioned, and put down something (like a plastic tarp or newspaper) under their plates, because this is going to be messy! lol It's great to watch as they try to figure out what to do and typically walk in the food and do everything but lap at it/eat it! It takes a few tries, but they will get it. They should still be nursing at that age, until they lose interest or the mom-cat loses interest, at the earliest, 6 weeks, but it's best for them to stay with mom and siblings until at least 8 weeks or even better, 12 weeks, if possible.

So glad you're going to keep Monty and Mabel!

Best regards,
Cher

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