2 - 3 month old kittens still nursing

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Purred: Mon Nov 28, '11 2:47pm PST 
Last week I took in a stray momma cat and her 3 kittens and they have been living indoors since then. The vet estimated the mom's age as 1 year old and the kittens as 2 - 3 months old. They're all very sweet and they received a clean bill of health.

My only concern is that they still nurse on mom at least 2 - 4 times per day. Sometimes she does get annoyed and walks away, but for the most part she lets them do as they please. It almost seems as if they do it out of habit. Her nipples look normal and aren't red or irritated.

I feed the kittens 3 times a day and they are eating normally and are very active, so I know it's not because they're hungry. They also have access to water 24/7, so it seems more of a habit/comfort thing. Most of the time they fall asleep while nursing.

I did bring this up with the vet, and he recommended that I separate them. His reasoning for this was so that she can "dry up" because I plan on having her spayed.

Is this really essential for her to get spayed though? Will she go in to heat if she is still nursing? I really want to get her spayed before she goes in to heat.

Also, is it bad for the kittens to still be nursing on her? I just don't want any of them (including mom) to have any negative effects from long term nursing.

If away from them for a period of time, mom will meow loudly and the kittens will meow back and try to find her. I don't want to stress them.. So, I welcome all advice and opinions! Thanks smile


go getter kitter
Purred: Mon Nov 28, '11 5:51pm PST 
Yes she can go into heat while still nursing. If you can't keep her inside, I might do as your vet suggests. Otherwise, it isabsolutely normal for them to still be nursing. Meowma and all other breeders we know let kittens nurse till Mama cat stops it, if there is no physical reason to make them stop. I let my babies nurse all they wanted until about 10 weeks then gradually weaned them. They still try now and then but I have no milk and do NOT let them.Sometimes they suckle on each other or a spayed female when they are tired or about to nap--heck, they even do it to the neutewred male here. Mom's breeder friends say it will stop soon laugh out loud

Also, remember the kittens age is an estimate. And 8 weeks is generally some human's idea of when to wean, and far earlier than most cats would naturally do.