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I got adopted by a very friendly stray female domestic shorthair last September. I'm guessing from her behavior that she'd been around people a lot before, but somehow ended up on the streets and was on the verge of starvation when she showed up on my porch. At the end of February, she ran out the door one night and came back three days later with telltale bite marks on the scruff of her neck. Within a few weeks, it was obvious that she was pregnant. (I know now that even indoor cats should be fixed and am getting her fixed as soon as the kittens are gone...)

She had a litter of six kittens on May 2. Four have the same color and markings as her, one has the same markings but is black instead of gray, and one is all gray. Since they will be eight weeks old on Monday and are eating solid food (but have been intermittently nursing), I'm going to try to find homes for them this week. But some of the things that the mother cat has been doing have been weirding me out.

First off, the past couple of days it looks (from a human perspective anyway) like she's been trying to be violent with the kittens. It has looked as if she's been biting them on the neck while they've been on their backs underneath her, and it's looked as if the kittens have tried to get away during these episodes. Several times the mother has chased the kittens as the kittens have run into another room. This didn't look like they were playing. Do mother cats ever get violent with kittens at this point? Could it be that the mother is just worn out and is sick of dealing with kittens, even though she still licks them and grooms them?

Which brings up a follow-up question: I'd planned on keeping one of the kittens but am having second thoughts about this at the moment because I'm not sure how to read the mother's behavior. Should I keep one of the kittens so that the mother will have a cat-mate? I plan on having the mother spayed as soon as the other kittens are gone, and spay/neuter the remaining kitten if I keep one. The mother also at times has just started yowling as I walk by her and has latched onto my leg and tried to bite me, or has tried to bite me as I try to pet her. In general she's a really sweet cat and has more personality than a lot of PEOPLE I know, but I'm just trying to figure out what in the heck is going on with her and what I should do now. Any feedback would be very much appreciated.