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Dr. Barbara
Dr. Barbara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 1614
Experience:  Thirty years experience in small animal medicine and surgery.
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mother cat acting aggressively towards kittens

Customer Question

My cat had 3 kittens they will be 3 weeks tomorrow, they are having a check up on the 30th of this month, and mum will be spayed soon after they are feeding well and seem healthy but I've noticed mother cat pawing and biting at the kittens sometimes biting at the neck/throat although it appears to be quite softly, also one of the kittens she seems to pick on more than the others she has removed it from the kittening box now 3 times and has moved it to another room behind a sofa, each time I've caught her I've told her off. I feel she is sulking because I'm not allowing her to go outside as I don't want another pregnancy, she is also becoming very fussy with her food refusing to eat even things that she used to love before and I think its almost out of protest for not going outside. Every thing else about her and the kittens seems fine, she wakes them up to feed them regularly and is stimulating them to use the toilet and usually appears loving and motherly towards them and its also not every day that she bites at them but it is becoming more regular, should I be worried about this because I have heard its possible for a cat to kill a kitten and am worried that overnight or if I'm out her biting may become more aggressive. maybe the pawing and biting may just be playfighting with the kittens and is perfectly natural but I do feel very worried at her removing the one kitten from the rest, this kitten to me also appears to be the most timid, any advise would be much appreciated

Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Barbara replied 3 years ago.

Dr. Barbara :

Hi! This is Dr. Barbara. I was alerted that you had written again, but had to search a little for you.

Dr. Barbara :

First of all, congratulations on the birth of Puddy's 3 kittens! I'm glad to hear that all worked out well!

Dr. Barbara :

Everything that Puddy is doing, except for 2 probably important things, is very normal. She is socializing and playing with them as they are getting older.

Dr. Barbara :

The two things that concern me are Puddy's pickiness about her food and decreased appetite. This isn't normal, and I'm worried that she may be sick with something that isn't obvious to you. Cats do hide diseases at first. . .they do everything to appear normal instinctually to avoid being preyed upon (if she were in the wild this would be a very important and helpful instinct!).

Dr. Barbara :

The second concern is that she is separating one of the kittens which likely is indicating that it is sick with something, or has a congenital abnormality. Is this kitten growing at the same rate as the other 2?

Dr. Barbara :

It is possible that Puddy would prefer to have all of her kittens now live behind the sofa. Has she ever indicated this? Have you just left the kitten behind the sofa to see what she does next?

Dr. Barbara :

At this point, however, I do recommend that you have Puddy and her kittens checked as soon as possible by your vet there for any illness or abnormalities. Puddy is very likely indicating that something is not right especially with her and the one kitten.

Customer:

The other kitten is feeding with the other two and is about the same weight, the kitten seems timid to me as she doesn't cry much if I pick her up and the other two hiss and cry practically as soon as they smell me but other than that all seems normal to me.

Customer:

When I have pulled back the sofa the mother is standing above the kitten, today she was back there for at least 5 minutes before I noticed what happened so I don't think it was a case of moving that kitten with the intention to move them all, the first time she moved this same kitten was about 5 days ago and again today the same kitten

Customer:

Puddy is eating about 5 pouches a day plus treats she's not eating any of her dry food, but ill put a pouch out and she won't eat it half the time until I change to another one I'm putting out maybe 8 pouches a day and 3 or 4 she'll refuse to eat so will have to be thrown away

Dr. Barbara :

So glad to hear that the timid kitty seems fine otherwise. Being close in weight does indicate that she is eating normally. Cats do have different personalities, so perhaps this kitty is just by nature more timid. However, her timidness could actually be that she doesn't feel well and Puddy is recognizing that this kitten has a problem. Unfortunately, in nature, mama's will abandon kittens that are ill or abnormal. This doesn't me they have something fatal and can't be helped by us.

Dr. Barbara :

Wow. . . I made a few mistakes up there. . .sorry and hope I was clear enough for you!

Dr. Barbara :

Are the pouches and the flavors all food Puddy is accustomed to?

Customer:

I'm going to call tomorrow to try to make my vet check up sooner and keep my eye on her and kittens until then

Dr. Barbara :

Perfect!! That way we'll make sure that all is well or be able to address any problems.

Customer:

The flavours were the flavours she used to love, I'm currently giving her all different brands of luxury cat food some she will eat and some not, but as I said I think this is in protest to me not allowing her outside because she does appear quite moody and silky towards me

Customer:

Sulky

Dr. Barbara :

It could be that she is moody because cats can come back into heat right after kittens are born. . .I think as you know, because you are keeping her indoors. . .very correctly!

Dr. Barbara :

Therefore, that could be Puddy's issue. Have you started offering your kittens any food yet?

Customer:

I think she is currently in heat because she's rubbing up on the furniture more often

Dr. Barbara :

You don't have to yet, but if you were, Puddy's milk production would decrease and subsequently her food needs.

Customer:

No solid food yet as there only 3 weeks I might try at the end of next week

Dr. Barbara :

There is a little trick you could try to "calm things down". This involves a thermometer and the Puddy's vulva. . .are you interested?

Dr. Barbara :

That is fine to begin offering food at 4 weeks.

Customer:

Yeah I don't have a thermometer but can buy one

Dr. Barbara :

Great! Cats are obligate ovulators. . .meaning that they don't ovulate and therefore come out of heat until they mate. You can simulate mating by gently inserting a lubed thermometer into Puddy's vulva and slowly twirling it. If you can do this for a minute or so, this should cause her to ovulate and come out of heat. If after several hours she is still acting like she is in heat, then you can try again.

Customer:

Ok I might try that I don't know if she'll be pleased though

Dr. Barbara :

:-)! Some cats actually seem pleased ultimately, but at first are leary. If she is really too upset, then it's not worth her stress and you possibly getting scratched. However, this does work for many cats!

Customer:

Could this also work with something of a similar shape to a thermometer

Dr. Barbara :

Definitely!

Customer:

Ok thank you for the advise

Dr. Barbara and 2 other Vet Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Dr. Barbara replied 3 years ago.
Hi!
Just wondering if the "thermometer trick" worked, and how things are going?
Hope all is fine. . .
Dr. Barbara
Expert:  Dr. Barbara replied 3 years ago.
Hi Celestine,
How are things going for Puddy and her family? I do hope all is OK!
Were you able to "trick" her into coming out of heat?
Hope to hear back soon,
Dr. Barbara