Stray mother cat and kittens--need advice

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Member Since
Purred: Fri Sep 21, '12 11:48am PST 
I am new to catster and new to cats. I have a stray mother cat and three kittens living behind my house. The mother has been hanging around in our neighborhood for at least a year, but this summer she decided to take up residence in our yard. This is the second litter of kittens she has had under our shed. The first litter disappeared after we saw them just a few times. This time, I decided to start feeding the mother cat--she is very thin and I wanted to make friends so I can potentially have her spayed. So I have been putting food out for about a week. She is very friendly and definitely not feral. She runs over when I bring out the food and lets me pet her and will rub against my legs. I would guess the kittens are about 4-5 weeks old. Okay, that's the background. Now for my questions:

1) I know the mother cat needs to be spayed. When is it safe to have this done, considering she is nursing three kittens?
2) I am thinking about keeping the mother cat and taking the kittens to a cat rescue shelter in our area. When is it safe for them to leave their mother?
3) Two of the kittens seem friendly, but the third one is very skittish around people. Is this a bad sign? Will it affect its ability to be adopted?

I need and appreciate any advice you can give me. Thanks!

TGM Gimli DB- #101a

Play Hard, Sleep- Hard!

Purred: Fri Sep 21, '12 8:55pm PST 
Hi & welcome to Catster!

Thanks for taking care of the stray kitty and her kittens!

The site says that ideally, a mother cat should be spayed a month after weaning the kittens to allow for regression of mammary tissue that has developed during pregnancy.

The Feline Spay

Gimli and littermates were born on August 20 and if I remember, I think I had their mom, Aphrodite, spayed sometime early November. One of Gimli's sisters left for her new home when she was 8 weeks old. Their brother Tux went to his new home sometime after that. K.C. went to her new home when she was about 3 months old and Gimli stayed with us.
Gimli was shy when he was a kitten; he became more outgoing after his three littermates. Aphrodite had two kittens outside before she had Gimli & littermates. The boy disappeared but I finally got the girl kitten inside (her name was Kahlan) when she was 4 months old. I socialized Kahlan but se still had a feral streak. I would try to socialize the kittens as much as possible before they turn 8 weeks old.

Good luck!

Member Since
Purred: Tue Sep 25, '12 3:01pm PST 
Thank you so much for the information. I have been trying to spend some time with the kittens each day, and they are definitely getting used to me now. Two of them (and the mother) will come running when I come out. The third one hangs back, but doesn't immediately dive for cover. And she let me pick her up today--which is how I know she is a she. smile

I have contacted several rescue organizations in my area, but have only heard back from one and they are filled to capacity. Really hoping I can find homes for these kittens...

Is the PetSmart adoption program a good option? Does anyone know how to get kittens into the program?



Bella- Notte--Beautiful- Night
Purred: Tue Sep 25, '12 3:12pm PST 
Also, if anyone lives in upstate SC and wants to adopt kittens--please contact me!


Stella- Felinis--Queen- of All Kitties!
Purred: Wed Sep 26, '12 11:32am PST 
It's Stella. I was born in very similar circumstances, except my Momcat was feral and she could not be caught to be spayed. My person, and possibly others, picked up kittens and adopted them. Some may have died--we have coyotes around here and we think they killed my Momcat.

If you start feeding the kittens with kitten rescue formula that you can get at the store, and wet or dry kitten food, you can have the mom spayed after around 6 weeks, so next week. If you return here to the wild after spaying, or put her back with the kittens in an enclosure, she might return to mothering them, although not nursing, or she might reject them entirely. They are old enough to survive if they receive food and socialization from humans.

In our area, Petsmart and Petco only take their kittens from the shelters--they will not take them from the wild like yours. Check your area stores for their policies. If you are willing to pay for the kittens to have first shots and deflead/dewormed, they would be more adoptable to private homes.

Good luck from the three of us who found a good home with this nice person who loves us and who loved our Momcat, even though she presented her with 12 feral kittens before she died.

Bella My- Beautiful- Angel

Mommys Kitty- Girl! I know- I\'m loved!
Purred: Thu Sep 27, '12 6:15am PST 
I'm so emtional now...your story is my Bella's story. We just lost her after 17 years.
Let me tell you what I did-
Feed m omma well. Have you a basement with outside access?
how friendly is momma? Will she let you pick her up?
If she will, have a carrier ready, and put her in. Then scoop babies up and get them.
Put them in seperate room from other animals or alot of foot traffic. Bella kept and nursed her kittens in a finished basement room til they were ready to leave. As they really were 10 weeks, they were removed from her within a week. She missed them-it was sad, but they needed socialization. Strangely, she didn't.

Bella was spayed 2 weeks after we got her. She had gone into heat, and they usually don't do it when a cat is in heat...its a bit more risky, but my vet at the time was an ace with spaying, and that afternoon Bella was home. She was tired and sore for abut a day, but ate a nice meal the next day and was up and around.

My girl...I never regretted keeping her. She was your little stray moms story.

I look at her picture...and I think....wow...I'm so glad you trusted me.
You were my real first cat rescue...and now I have 6.

Sending you lots of purrs and hugs,
I hope you're able to get momma and the babies and save their little lives...they are so so precious.
Deb and the KG cats.


Bella- Notte--Beautiful- Night
Purred: Sun Sep 30, '12 7:06pm PST 
Thanks everyone for the advice. Mama cat has moved her babies somewhere and I can't find them. She still comes every day for food, but does not bring the kittens with her. She doesn't hang around either--just eats and goes. If I happen to see her outside, I go out and give her a pet, which she seems to enjoy--she will run over to say hello and rub against my legs.

I'm not sure if I should go ahead and take Bella (mama cat) to be spayed, with the possibility that the kittens still need her, or if I should wait...I would hate for the kittens to not get enough to eat or to get chilled. Any thoughts?

Really hoping this situation works out well for all the kitties. I do have a smallish laundry room I could keep Mama and kitties in if I can find them again. Kicking myself for not grabbing them when I first found them...


Bella- Notte--Beautiful- Night
Purred: Sun Sep 30, '12 7:17pm PST 
Also, another complication: Bella may have another litter of kittens in another location, a little older than these--is that possible? A neighbor that lives a couple streets over told me that they have been feeding a black cat who has kittens in their yard. I haven't seen any other black cats in the neighborhood...These neighbors said that last summer this black cat had four litters in their yard. So, if it was Bella, she is extremely prolific. All the more reason to get her spayed. But I am still worried about the kittens, and whether they would be harmed if I took Bella away from them, even for a couple days.

Deb and KG kitties--thanks for sharing your sweet story! I hope ours has as happy an ending as yours did! kitty


Stella- Felinis--Queen- of All Kitties!
Purred: Sun Sep 30, '12 7:34pm PST 
It's Stella. Your cat must be a very stern momcat--when we were about 5 weeks old, we just followed our momcat whenever she left, and found the source of the food, at our person's deck. She never did find out where Momcat was having the kittens and raising them. It probably is not far from where you are.

I guess it is possible to have two litters back to back, but they would still be two months apart, so the older kittens would have to be 10 weeks or more old. In the wild that is considered old enough to be on their own, but there is a high die-off rate, plus kittens who are more than 16 weeks old begin to be sexually active.

So I don't know what to tell you to do about getting her fixed right now. If you can get together with these other people and try to figure out how old those kittens are and how old the ones you saw were? The kittens may still end up following their mother like we did. The sad thing is if she goes into heat right away, she may drive the kittens off and make them survive on their own. Also, males who want to mate with the mom will kill the kittens. It's a sad wild world out there. You definitely should get her fixed in the next month, if she is that prolific.

You are a good person to care about these cats! applause