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Effect of birth on mother cat's personality (lots of background info here hehe)

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I came across this site recently in an effort to research ferals and pregnancy in cats and I've come to realize that there are a lot of experts that frequent this site and impart their wisdom onto us newbies. I could certainly use some friendly advice at this point.

Last summer my boyfriend and I adopted two kittens from our local SPCA after moving from NY to Austin TX. This past March we bought our first house and adopted our first puppy together. Everything was fine until I started noticing the strays frequenting our subdivision. My love of animals automatically kicked in and I subconsciously decided to be the savior of Gettysburg Loop My boyfriend was less than thrilled (he never really was a cat lover...he agreed to adopt Cali and Chase because he knew I was lonely...he still pretends like he could take them or leave them although I know deep down he's really in love with them hehe). My first rescue occurred back in June 2003 when I crept out the front door and lured a sweet tabby into my clutches with just a little Purina. He had absolutely the BEST personality I've ever seen on a cat and his bum eye really pulled at my heartstrings. My boyfriend and I obviously had many words discussing "Chance's" future and in the end I agreed to let him turn Chance over to our local no-kill shelter so that he could find a wonderful new home and I could retain my relationship hehe. It wasn't much over a week before the woman in charge of the shelter decided that Chance was too much of a sweetheart to spend his days on her desk, so she took him home with her where he's living very happily right now.

Unfortunately for my relationship, my success with the rescue of Chance spurred on my desire to help the local strays. Less than a month after catching Chance I spotted another tabby out my front window and despite my boyfriend's protests I was out the driveway in a flash trying to coax her into my possession. She was a bit more skittish than Chance but hungry enough to wearily accept my food. It was obvious that she wanted some affection but the slightest noise or fast movement sent her running. It honestly didn't take more than 30 minutes for her to trust me at least minimally and I placed her in our cat carrier with the intention of turning her over to the same shelter that had placed Chance. The following day I called the shelter 3 times and emailed the woman in charge but I received no response. Unfortunately my car's inspection had expired so I couldn't take her to the shelter by myself. I felt so horrible watching her trapped in that cage and I eventually couldn't stand her sad eyes so I took her out into our backyard and released her into the greenbelt just outside our 6 foot privacy fence.

I was very sad that my rescue attempt had failed and I hoped very much that she would come around my front door looking for food in the future so that I could try again. Later that same evening I was telling my boyfriend how our two cats had freaked out at the mere smell of Charity (as I was referring to her by then) when my Cali starting hissing and snarling right on cue. I thought it odd since I had cleaned everything Charity had come in contact with and didn't know what was ruffling Cali's fur. Just then my boyfriend and I noticed little Charity sitting on our patio waiting for me to realize she was there. Somehow she had either scaled or crawled under our fence and was there as if to say "alright, I came back, you can feed me now". Needless to say I was overjoyed at her return!

The first time she allowed me to pick her up I noticed that her nipples were protruding from her belly. Although I've never been around a pregnant cat myself I had a feeling there was some connection there. Rather than trying to contact our shelter again I went the selfish route and starting feeding her and watering her everyday. I'd sneak out multiple times to pet her, talk to her, or even just to check on her. She seemed very content to spend her hours lounging away on our deck in the shade and she would only leave briefly to go to the bathroom or hunt for small critters like the mole she was nice enough to leave for me one morning. As long as she was an "outdoor" kitty my boyfriend had no problem with it and she's been able to sleep many a happy hour and night in the safety of our deck.

I have been doing lots of research about her pregnancy and ferals in general. I've even called my vet to ask some questions of them. I've set her up a nesting box and plenty of soft material to deliver on, but I am determined to bring her into the house to do so. When I spoke with a vet tech they told me they wouldn't be able to give her any vaccines in her condition and although she could be tested for FiV and Feluk she couldn't be treated if she was positive so I made up my mind that I'd be quarantining her in our empty 3rd bedroom and taking the entire brood to the vet once the babies are delivered.

Which brings me to the point of this post:
I understand that female cats undergo a personality change of sorts when they are pregnant. Some become uber affectionate (like Charity) and others become incredibly grumpy and antisocial. I'm not sure if she is a stray or a true feral. I know that Chance was a gray tabby and I believe Charity is a brown tabby. Some of the kids in the subdivision told me there is a whole family of cats living behind our houses and as of a few nights ago I've seen another slightly larger, male cat, that looks exactly like Charity and who apparently has been sharing her food unbeknownst to me. Do you think it's possible that she's just being so friendly towards me because she is pregnant and has therefore become a really loving cat or could this be her true personality magnified? Is she going to suddenly become some antisocial being once the babies are born? I've become quite attached to her and although I hope to socialize the kittens and pass them on to the local animal shelter when they're old enough (I've already emailed my contact regarding this impending brood)I'm hoping that Charity will retain her great personality and move quite effortlessly from "stray kitty giving birth to her litter in our spare bedroom" to "Langdon cat #3". I appreciate any advice you can offer me. Based on my calculations the kittens should be making their appearance any day now (Charity began showing around August 13th).
(Charity's belly shot, September 1, 2003)
post #2 of 16
Hi Heidi,

I work strictly with ferals, and based on what you have shared here, you have a group of stray cats living near you, not ferals. That is a definite plus for you, because it means that somewhere along the way the cats have felt the touch of human kindness and not the boot of abuse. But Charity is at risk outside and being pregnant and she needs to come inside if you can manage it. She needs her own room that is quiet and dark, with a birthing box set somewhere out of any drafts. She is susceptible to the Toms who are about, and if she has her kittens outside, they could be killed by another tomcat. So my advise is to bring her inside as quickly as you can. If she were acting feral, I would never suggest this, but she is not a true feral, at least not by what you have described.
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
I agree with you 100% that Charity needs to make her way inside. I've already set up some things for her in our spare bedroom including a scratching post and nesting box. I think I haven't been pushing the issue because I don't want to cause too much friction in the household. I didn't realize how much danger she really is in by being outdoors and wasn't too worried since she rarely leaves my sight. After doing some research online though I intend on kicking my "rescue plan" into high gear by moving her in tomorrow morning once I've set up a litterbox for her. I appreciate your fast response and I'll let you know how it goes. I highly doubt she'll have any problem transitioning since there have been times that she's walked right up to my backdoor and wanted to let herself in. She definitely knows a sucker when she sees one Let's just hope she grows on my boyfriend as well hehe

Thanks again!!!
post #4 of 16
She should be vetted as soon as possible too. You don't want her to bring anything bad into the home and infect your other cats, though by her picture she looks pretty good to me.

Don't worry they grow on you quickly! My husband's youngest daughter visited us a few years ago. She walked into the living room where her dad was bottle feeding a feral kitty and had four more on his lap! She looked at him wide-eyed then turned to me and said "Dad hates cats you know?" LOL First time in 16 years of marriage that I had heard Mike hates cats. He is one of the prime bottle feeders when we get overflowing with kittens. He generally has one or two cats on his lap and about 6 that sleep near him at night! But yep- he hates cats! LOL
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
Sounds like you got lucky! My boyfriend has made it quite obvious that he's more of a "dog person". Although the other day I did mention what beautiful green eyes Charity has and he wholeheartedly agreed hehe Maybe there's hope for him yet.

When I called my vet regarding this situation they suggested I wait until the kittens are born and bring them all in at one time. The vet tech thought I should be ok if I kept Charity seperated from the rest of the household. Was she wrong?

I had planned on taking her in at the end of this week anyways if the kittens haven't made their appearance by then. I swear she starting showing a little over 3 weeks ago so either I'm just incredibly impatient (which is quite possible) or her pregnancy is running a little long? I can very clearly see and feel the kittens moving so I don't believe they are in any distress. Apparently my daily pep talks have not convinced her that she needs to "have those babies already" though hehe. I swear I don't know how women survive the 9 months before their children are born. I can see myself being a very anxious mom-to-be hehe.

post #6 of 16
Don't give up on your hubby - mine "hated" cats when I first met him and he also bottle feeds the feral rescues now.

I have seen mother-to-be cats get very friendly when they get close to delivery - they instinctually search for a good place to give birth and raise their young. By the looks of her, I agree with Hissy - she looks more stray than feral.

I do suggest using a lot of caution as her days get closer to delivery. A perfectly socialized cat can get very protective of herself and young as they give birth, even to the point of attacking their human caretakers. If this is her first pregnancy, she is working strictly from instinct, not experience and could lash out at you in her confusion on what is happening. Watch for signs of impending delivery and give her the space that she needs during and immediately afterwards. She will let you know in no uncertain terms if she is willing for you to handle the newborns.
post #7 of 16
Hi Heidi! First of all, thank you so much for caring for these cats!!!! You've already gotten great advice (and, quite frankly, I have no experience with a pregnant cat. We've been fortunate enough to "find" the ferals because of one litter - but after that, we managed to trap and spay/neuter them all before there were more litters). I agree with MA (hissy) - it seems like your gang are strays, not ferals. They need just as much care - it's just easier to give it.

Second of all, don't give up hope. My husband was not "more of a dog man," he was an avowed cat hater. He is VERY ashamed of it now, but when in the army they used stray cats for target practice (as horrible as that feels to even type, let alone speak). It only took about a year, but he is now known as "The Cat Man of Blairstown," (where we live), and is a complete believer that "dogs drool, cats rule," LOL!

Check this link out! (And please - we'd LOVE to host your rescue stories at www.savesamoa.org if you would take the time to write them up!)

Hubby was a cat hater - Booger's story
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
All of your advice and support is much appreciated! I don't want you to get a bad impression of my boyfriend, he is a kind and caring person. I suppose you could say he lacks the "drive to help". When he sees a stray he may feel bad but he doesn't think it's his responsibility to care for that animal. I on the other hand find it impossible not to. We may not have caused this situation but if it's not our responsibility to help then who's is it?

I've taken your wonderful words to heart and earlier today Charity officially "moved in" with us (which my boyfriend will find when he returns home from work tonight hehe hopefully there won't be too many fireworks ) She's actually very lucky. We have an entire empty bedroom that we had childgated as a sanctuary from the puppy for our kitties. I have since moved their toys and whatnot into the guest bedroom, along with their gate, so the 4th bedroom was just waiting for Charity. She's got her own litterbox (which she's already used), a windowsill with plenty of morning and afternoon sun, her own food and water, and a number of covered boxes to hide in/sleep in/ nest in. Being the independent stray that she is, she showed little fear in joining the household although I know she is already pining for the great outdoors. I feel SOOO much better now that she's in the safety of our house and wish I had moved her in weeks ago (although I feel bad for her male friend that will no longer benefit from her abundance of free food...maybe he'll be my next "project" hehe)

I'm going to try sweet-talking my boyfriend into driving Charity and I out to a low cost wellness center this weekend so she can get a clean bill of health and I can worry less about her interacting with my Cali and Chase (they have both become very accustomed to her prescence on our deck and don't even bother hissing at her any more). I'm also hoping I can get an estimate on her due date because my patience is wearing incredibly thin. I first spotted her well over a month ago, and she was already showing not long after that so I'm going to assume there should be new kittens any time now. I've been doing lots of research about the signs of labor and how to help if something goes wrong but I must admit I'm still a bit nervous since this is my first time

Laurie...I would love to write up my "rescue stories" although I doubt they are of much interest to anyone other than myself. Putting such experiences out in the public eye can be dangerous for people like me because I get even more inspired when I hear the luck that others have had and I start wanting to do even more to help I honestly do appreciate all the support that I've received from everyone on this site already. Animals lovers are the best kind of people!

post #9 of 16
Hello Heidi-

It sounds to me that you just aint plain!

Pregnant cats- I breed Persian Cats and we have had other breeds have litter before and we have never noticed any "Mood swings" or personailty changes in our cats AT ALL!I think Charity will stay sweet!

Best of Luck with Charitys pregnancy- now that I have found this thread- I will continue to come back and read- I have had lots of experience with cat births before and would be happy to help you, should you need my assistance.

You are an absolute angel for helping this girl, Please when you can take her to the vet , Just for your safety don't wont her bringing anything into the house, and also please if you aren't already wash your hands in between touching the cats & dog and Charity

Now she's inside- she's safe, I hope she grows on yuor boyfriend! heehee!

Keep us posted & Best of Luck

Many thankies for helping Charity out.

post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hi Everyone! Just thought I'd post a quick update on Charity's current situation.

She has acclimated very well to the charmed life of an indoor cat. She has taken very quickly to the litterbox and has been caught testing out all 3 of the nesting boxes I've created for her. I was actually quite excited yesterday when I saw her finally take some interest in a few of the toys I confiscated from Cali and Chase's toy drawer. It was such a great feeling to visually watch her transform from an independent "street wise" cat, to a worry free playful kitty. I feel so blessed that I can provide her with a safe haven in which to birth her babies (and Nate is tolerating it very well indeed).

I was actually planning on taking her to this low cost animal wellness center tomorrow to be tested for FelV/FIV but I'm beginning to have second thoughts. When I checked on her just a few moments ago I noticed the bedding in 2 out of the 3 nesting boxes has been shredded and rearranged. This is the first I've really seen her nest in the past 47 days (she first arrived on my doorstep in July with nipples that I could only describe as popped up turkey timers hehe). She is still eating, although I've heard that a number of cats have eaten right up to delivery so I'm not sure how reliable of a sign that might be. The kittens are definitely active right now. I could actually see each individual lump protruding from her sides and they felt very hard to the touch. They were also kicking up a storm in there hehe. Anyone even wanna hazard a guess as to how much longer I have to wait to meet these babies? She doesn't seem to have any discharge, no panting, and she's no more restless than usual (which isn't saying much hehe). If the probability of her going into labor tomorrow is high I'll push back the vet visit until the kittens appear and I can get them all checked out at once. She seems very healthy to this point and I have been uber careful about not bringing her or myself after petting her, into contact with the rest of the household. I don't want to force her to endure an hour drive to the clinic, an exam, and an hour drive back if she's planning on having her kittens tomorrow. Her plans are obviously more important than mine!

On a bit of a sadder note, I think I got a real glimpse of where Charity would be if I hadn't taken her under my wing all those weeks ago. Last evening I noticed a large fluffy cat in my driveway and when I went outside to see if it was yet another stray I noticed a cat looking very similiar to Charity, running to hide under Nate's car. The large long haired cat had on a flea collar and apparently was bored by me so it wandered away but the other cat didn't budge. I shook the plastic container of food and spoke to the kitty and eventually it made a few pitiful meows in response. I believe hunger caused it to venture out from behind the tire and I was able to get a good glimpse of her as she was eating the food that I scattered farthest away from me. I would bet anything that she's Charity's sister because they are both brown tabbies with similiar markings(although the new kitty has no white splotches) and they around the same size, although Charity has had the benefit of weeks of steady food to help fill her out. When she turned sideways I was able to detect a very obvious swell to her belly although I would guess that she isn't as many weeks pregnant as Charity. Even though I remained absolutely stationary, the new kitty kept darting away from me when she heard even the slightest noise. She ate all of the food I left for her and I've been waiting for her return tonight, but so far there is no sign of her. Of course my heart is telling me to do whatever I can to help her, but my head is reminding me that I'm lucky to be able to help Charity and I shouldn't be pressing my luck hehe. I think I'm going to try to find some organizations in the area that are involved at least with TNR if nothing else. I just want to make sure that there isn't a large population of unaltered cats happily reproducing on the outskirts of our quickly growing subdivision.

Charity is my current priority though. Any more advice? I appreciate any insights you guys have to offer!

post #11 of 16
Sounds like you are doing all the right things. When the kittens start to come don't interfere unless there is trouble. She should start to immediately lick the kitten and chew off the sac, but just in case have a pair of sterilized scissors near and a few soft towels. If you have to cut the cord, don't pull the kitten as the cord is still attached and you could injure the mom and the kitten. I would call your vet right before just to be safe and have his number near just in case.

If you can make friends with the one cat with the collar outside, see if you can cut the collar off of him/her as well. I have seen cats trapped with collars that almost bore into their skin!
post #12 of 16
I just found this thread, and I have very much enjoyed reading your story, thank you for sharing it. You've gotten very good advice, and I'm happy you've taken Charity into your home. I would definately suggest getting her tested ASAP, since a postive FIV or FLV is a miserable death sentence to her and her kittens, and a risk to your other cats. Fortunately the reality is, in most areas, the risk of either disease is actually pretty low.

To strongly agree with Hissy and others, she very much sounds like a stray rather than a feral cat, having seen far to many of both. I really expect her personality is what you see, and not a result of her pregnancy (I think someone else already stated this.) She'll still have some "trust" issues, but these will diminish in time. When the kittens are born be careful, she may be somewhat protective but this is not a sign of a dangerous animal and she will most likely let you close to them rather quickly.

I, too, consider myself more of a "dog person" even though I've had and worked with cats of all types and sizes for over 30 years, and love them dearly. (Dogs I've been with for well over 40 and it's almost like I can read their minds.) My wife is a "cat person" and directly responsible for 6 of our 8 cats (one was mutual, one I felt a special need to save.) Amazingly, my wife's mother was terribly frightened of cats but has learned to accept them. I guess what I'm saying is, your boyfriend will learn to accept you for who your are, rescued cats and all.

You have done a good thing with Charity. Thank you again for sharing your story.

post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
I had forgotten all about updating this thread when the kittens came so I thought I'd finish the story for anyone coming across this posting at a later time.

September 7, 2003 - 7:51 am
After researching signs of cat labor until 3:30 am on 9/7/03 I am beyond exhausted but sit bolt upright in bed when I hear loud shrill cries coming from the spare bedroom. As I hurdle the safety gate in the guest bedroom doorway I try to gather my senses, not really expecting to see new kittens when I open the spare room's door. I find Charity in the purple hooded cat litter box which has become her favorite place to sleep, and although her mouth is closed I still hear very obvious chirping sounds. I peer into the darkness and see not one but two squirming kittens! I run to wake Nate and grab the digital camera. When I return to the birthing room, I remove the plastic top so I can get a better view of the new arrivals.

8:30 am
Kitten #1 (boy) and Kitten #2 (boy) are dried off and nursing quite happily.

10:35 am
Kitten #3 (girl) is born!

11:00 am
I took a quick 10 minute break since I was exhausted and starving. When I returned to check on Charity I found that Kitten #4 (boy) had already arrived! I waited an hour and a half between Kitten #2 and #3 being born, but this little guy appeared within 10 minutes of his sister.

8:00 pm
Charity leaves the box for the first time today to get a bite to eat and stretch her legs. It was only a matter of a couple of minutes before their cries brought Charity right back to the box.

Since then I've started a number of other posts regarding these kittens as I've come across all sorts of problems that I never considered. I'm in the process of making up a website that chronicles Charity's delivery complete with pictures and short video clips. I'll post the link here once it's finished. Thank you everyone for taking the time to read this and respond to me.

To answer my own original question: Charity hasn't changed one bit since having the kittens. She actually seemed very comforted to have me there petting her during contractions and she never once objected to me interacting with the kittens. She's a very nice kitty and I've already found some friends that would be more than willing to take her and her kittens into their home. It looks like she'll have a happy ending after all

Kittens 1&2
Kitten 3
Kitten 4
post #14 of 16

Charity is a beautiful cat and her kittens are darling.

post #15 of 16
Congrats! Charity and the kittens are just adorable!
post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys!! I'm quite enamored with these little boogers myself! hehe

Their story continues here: http://www.thecatsite.com/forums/sho...962#post295962

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