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Here I go again

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Three weeks ago a cat that I have never been able to catch showed up in my garage and had a litter of seven kittens. After their birth she all of a sudden decided that my daughter and I could pet her. I thought that was great. For about two weeks she did a wonderful job caring for them, but for the last week we have had to try and make her feed them. I know that it was probably hard taking care of seven, but the babies were in great shape even the little runt. Yesterday morning I discovered that the runt was gone. The momma cat that we call daisy had completly turned the pet taxi over, so I assumed that with the carrier being flipped over another cat had snatched it. I looked everywhere just to be sure. My husband helped me look when he got home. Still no runt. I went to visit with some friends last night and when I came home there was a little blanket on the couch and only three kittens were there. My poor husband had to be the one to discover what had happened. Daisy had started to destroy them. The baby he caught her with wasn't able to be saved. So now I am bottle feeding three babies again. Does anyone know why she would wait three weeks before she took it into her head to kill them? I am really afraid to put the three left back out for her to care for even though I know they would do so much better with their mother. Help!!!
post #2 of 14
Oh, poor little kittens. This does sound very strange... Maybe one of the breeders here would know. I've never heard of anything like that before.

I wouldn't give her the kittens back. She might carry on killing them. And I would get her spayed ASAP, before she goes into heat again.

I'll be moving this to the behavior forum. I hope you'll get more replies there.
post #3 of 14
Be very sure that she is the one doing the killing and not some tomcat who is anxious to breed. Tomcats can kill quite unseen, I learned from bitter experience -- and I learned not to immediately point the finger at the mother cat.

Check with the vet and find out if she is sick -- her nipples may be sore, she may have some internal problems that cause her pain when the kittens nurse -- she may just be, like some human mothers, exhausted, stressed, and crazy from it all. If there is no physical reason, then you will have to decide how to proceed. She should NEVER be permitted to have kittens again.

That is the first thing. The second is that it is heavy work careing for the babbies for a little while (but they should already be reduced to 4 or 5 feedings in 24 hours...), but it is not the same as taking on a human baby up to self-feeding. A kitten can eat its own soft canned food mixed with catmilk formula by 5 weeks, even if you are still giving it a bottle. And it will begin to need something morre -- kibbled kitten food soaked in water or the formula with a little canned kitten food mixed in to entice. Most of my cats at six weeks are already raiding the dog food dishes, and that is my sign that they are ready for the hard stuff, which I continue to supplement with canned kitten food for around 3 months (or as a special treat). So you don't have long to go. Then for another two or three weeks you are feeing maybe every 4 to 5 hours (around the clock, remember), and finally three times a day.

I know that the experts say to keep the kittens separate, but I have had very good luck letting siblings or kittens rescued at the same time sleep in a single carrier cage at night. After all, their mother leaves them for many hours in a day to provide company and warmth for each other. They derive an enormous sense of security from each other. You will also find that they pair off and form grooming and sleeping pairs, so with three you may have to provide the other half of the pair until you find a home for it.

Bottom line, keep the mother from the kittens. If she shows an inclination to be with them, permit her supervised time. When your back is turned she may suddenly get maternal and protective and decide to move them to a hiding place outside, so see that she visits them in the house in a room whose door you can close against her. Have her spayed as soon as possible. Her milk will dry up, and that will be good for her, because she will have a reduced maternal need to be around the kittens.

Hope you manage to save the remainder of the family.
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice. I had to take another cat to the vet so I have already spoke with him about having her fixed. I wish that I could blame one of my Tom cats for the babies deaths, but there is no possible way. My husband caught her in the middle of killing the fourth one. The three that are left are lucky. They were brought in the house and given a quick bath and placed under warm towels. All of this was done by my husband, the closet cat lover.
post #5 of 14
What a nice husband. A man who loves cats, in a closet or out, has to be OK.

This is the third person who has written to TCS about mother cats killing their babies. It really shocks me. I wonder how common it is. Maybe some of our veterinarian forum members can answer that for us. It is such abberrant behavior...

Good luck with the little ones. They are not such babies that you should have problems saving them. Just becareful to give them frequent feedings and a nice warm nest somewhere safe. Large cat carriers are really wonderful for little ones, because they have sides halfway up that cut drafts and a seethrough door so you can keep and eye on them and they on you (which is comforting for both) and their mother can't get in.

This must have been an awful experience for you. Hope the three survive. You may want to consider if your cat is sane enough to be around children...
post #6 of 14
Shannon - I am so very sorry that you had to experience this.
I will be thinking of you and the remaining three babies - mom too, as something must be terribly wrong for her to have turned on her babies like this.
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
So far the three babies are doing really well. I should have known better than to let herv have a second litter. Her first was several months ago and she left them in our hay trailer. The only difference is the first ones were abandoned at just a little over a week. That's where I got my winkers. I just figured that her first litter was kind of a learning experience, and the second if there was a second, would be better. I hope to have her to the vet this week to make sure there are no more problems.
post #8 of 14
Cat usually destroy their offspring for 3 reasons, the kitten is very ill, the mom is somewhat mentally disturbed or conditions are noisy,crowded and or unsanitary. I would not give the kittens back to her at this point. When you take her to the vet is it possible to have her spayed??
post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
daisy is at the vet getting "fixed." It was a nightmare getting her there even in the pet taxi. I have tried to figure out what would have caused her to kill four babies. They were all so healthy and beautiful. Her living conditions were very clean and as far as noise she was kept in our garage, which for the time being is primarily used for storage. Is it possible that she could have been running out of milk?
post #10 of 14
Yes, as sandie wrote, the kittens might have been sick ! It's the same when humans with genetic disorders are genetically sterile so as not to spread the defected gene to the next generation. The mother cat may know that the kittens aren't normal & may kill them not to waste her time & sources where she won't be able to spread her genes succesfully.

Also if she feels like she doesn't have enough sources for both herself & the kittens she might kill the kittens to save herself !

Well, cats aren't like people. They don't have the idea of altruism as we do. They just want to spread their genes to the next generation.
post #11 of 14
Shannon - I am so pleased that you were able to get Daisy to the vet. I will pray for a speedy and comfortable recovery from her 'fixing'
post #12 of 14
Don't kid yourselves -- people -- especially men -- are very driven by nature to spread their genes. Have you forgotten what it was like to be a teenager? Nature is a really persistent motivater....!!
post #13 of 14
yes of course, we are also very much driven by nature to spread our genes. what i meant by altruism was people delivering babies although they know beforehand that the child will be somehow defected. most times, parents are eager to take care of the child in every ways even though the born child won't be able to spread their genes, instead of aborting him/her.
post #14 of 14
Yes, well and good. but until very recently in historical time, most societies have killed their defective babies because they have assumed that deformaties or abnormalities -- boh physical and mental -- came from the devil (whichever one they believed in ), and there are still a number of societies that either kill or abandon their defective newborns, and also many societies that sanction the husband divorcing a wife who produces one or more defective children (the imperative to perpetuate one's genes).

The problem is that we humans don't seem to have the instinct for defective embryos in the womb. Altruism is largely a learned behavior for most people -- one that is enforced by laws and peer pressure. But I have seen incredibly altruistic animals (as well as humans), as well as monogamous love between dogs and cats, whose instincts and drives tell them that they should be trying to pass on the widest possible gene mix in each litter. All of my dogs have adopted one or more kittens to love and cuddle and groom, and this protective behavior has persisted although my youngest kitten is now almost a year and a half old. Some of the cats also groom and nurture the dogs, and certainly cats will respond to saddness and fear in humans by trying to make things better.

Perhaps there is a special gene for nurturing and altruism, and it just doesn't exist as a drive in just anybody or anything, but must be passed along as a recessive until it meets a match to reproduce...???

I feel so sorry for your little mother. If she were human, she would cut her own throat for the murder of her babies. But very fortunately for her, she will now be able to get on with her life, especially with your love and support. Good luck to the three little ones. You did good, and you have added to the knowledge of the group so we can protect against this kind of thing among our own cats.
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