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Our cats don’t half go through the mire during and after pregnancy.
Carrying and then caring for a litter of kittens is an incredibly arduous and exhausting responsibility.
Their bodies take plenty of punishment while those little lodgers are waiting to come into the world.
They experience a lot of change physically, emotionally and mentally while providing a safe and sustainable environment for their unborn kitties to grow.
And the challenge of pampering and protecting their offspring once they’re born is often just as draining, toilsome and strenuous.
Packaging all those superlatives together probably gives you an understanding as to why they are desperate for a break every now and then.
It’s a chance to stretch, clean, go to the toilet, refuel, rehydrate, and get a moment’s peace and quiet, all without the constant prodding, poking and pestering of their delicate bambinos.
Therefore, it is perfectly normal for mums to seek some breathing space, though the time apart from her kittens could raise concerns if the window widens and appears to be detrimental to her litter.
If you have any doubts over the mother’s maternal instincts, and it seems as though her young aren’t being nursed substantially, then the best option might be to contact your veterinarian.
8 reasons why mother cats leave their kittens
Mastitis: Cats can sometimes develop complications after giving birth. Mastitis is an infection that can move up the teat towards the mammary gland when your pet’s body starts to produce food. If they’re experiencing any kind of pain or discomfort as a result, or any side effects such as dehydration or malnutrition, they will probably seek space.
Eclampsia: Your kitty could suffer from a calcium deficiency after giving birth. It can develop up to four weeks following the birth, with the newborn kittens taking the lion’s share of their mother’s supply of calcium. This can cause restlessness, aggression, fever, disorientation and convulsions.
Rejection: Pay close attention to the litter and try to determine whether one of the kittens is suffering from any kind of illness or deformity if it appears that the mother is abandoning her young. Or, if it’s a sizable litter, your cat might simply be overwhelmed and struggling to cope with the demands of feeding and nurturing such a large family.
Young/Inexperience: Cats can get pregnant and become parents before they’ve properly matured themselves. For pets as young as six months old, it can be somewhat of a challenge to carry and then care for a litter. If their maternal instincts haven’t yet properly triggered then they might need a little help and coercion along the way. Neglect can often be a case of greenness rather than ignorance.
Feeding: Your four-legged friend will have to replenish her own body after feeding her fur babies. She’ll require a high-protein, well-balanced diet, packed with all the essential vitamins and nutrients to keep her fit and fuelled. Their primal instincts might kick in as they go on the hunt for prey, or they might just opt for a less stressful trip to the food bowl. It’s essential that your cat looks after number one, in order for her to look after her offspring adequately.
Take a break: Parenthood isn’t always a ‘purr-fect’ process. Most parents can probably appreciate and relate to how demanding it can be to take care of babies. When energy levels are running low, stress levels are increasing, and exhaustion is kicking in, it’s imperative to take a step back to recharge your batteries. Some mothers will be hands-on, others will be paws-off, but they all need time to themselves occasionally.
Independent kittens: There comes a time when parents just have to let their little ones spread their wings. Kittens grow up quickly and it isn’t long before they develop some independence. Once they can start taking care of themselves a little bit more, and they’ve been taught everything they need to know up to a point, then ‘mum’ can begin to enjoy more extended breaks.
Lacking maternal instinct: It might sound harsh, and overly critical, but some cats just aren’t cut out for motherhood. Parenting comes naturally for some, but other felines have to force it, and that can prove to be a challenge. There are those that will eventually adapt, though it might just take them a little longer to learn the ropes, so pet parents might feel obliged to intervene so that they’re not left nursing malnutritioned kittens.
Should you try and stop the mother cat from leaving her kittens?
Nine times out of ten you can trust that your fabulous feline is doing everything expected of her.
Many doting mothers will often go beyond the call of duty to ensure that their kittens are given the best start in life.
But the constant care and attention, regardless of how maternal or patient they are, can be incredibly taxing.
There’s a catalogue of reasons as to why your four-legged friend might want to escape the perils of parenting from time to time.
The majority of these occasions are perfectly normal and natural – and usually advantageous for both mother and her offspring.
The demands on her body can be excruciating – sometimes debilitating – so regular rest periods are essential.
This provides an opportunity to re-energise, rejuvenate, refuel and regain the strength that is needed to raise a litter.
Pet parents, however, can raise the alarm if their cat neglects her babies from birth, or if spells of separation grow to become unusually long.
Should the health and wellbeing of one or more of the newborn kittens be compromised due to significant levels of neglect then it’s time to intervene.
There are measures that can be taken to ensure that the connection between mother and kittens is strengthened. These include: Feeding the mother a well-balanced, high-protein diet, narrowing the space for her to move in, or restricting her to an enclosed room with her kittens, keeping the litter box and food dishes close by, reducing noise/disturbance levels in the surrounding area, keeping the family together at night and allowing them to feed without distraction.
If all else fails, don’t hesitate to contact your vet, who will be on hand to offer professional guidance and advice.
When should I contact my vet?
Trust your instincts!
Most break times can be explained, but others are somewhat more suspicious.
It is, admittedly, a delicate balance. You have to ensure that your fur baby is getting adequate rest periods while, at the same time, ensuring that she’s providing her litter with everything they need to thrive and survive.
If her behaviour needs attention, step in. A lack of nourishment in the developmental stages of a kitten’s life can be damaging, with severe consequences.
Monitor the situation with an eagle eye and if it becomes apparent that the relationship between mother and her offspring is broken, then it’s important to seek the help of a vet as soon as possible.
In the meantime, pet parents must find a way to feed the kittens since they are dependent on eating regularly. Bottle-feeding them kitten formula is the most likely option.
Again, a professional will be able to point you in the right direction of a specific brand while providing information on technique, measurements and frequencies. They may also advise you to monitor their weight on a daily basis to ascertain whether they’re happy and healthy.