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Why Would a Cat Stop Nursing Its Kittens?

Why Would a Cat Stop Nursing Its Kittens?

One of the most beautiful things to watch is a mama cat cuddling and nursing her kittens. There are situations when a nursing mother may take in a batch of orphaned kittens and raise them as her own.

During the first four weeks, kittens are wholly dependent on their mama cat’s milk for nutritional fulfillment. It’s unlikely for any problems to occur if both mama and the kittens are happy and healthy. However, in some cases, the mother cat might start distancing herself from her kittens. Noticing this may be confusing for you because, usually, mother cats are excellent at raising kittens. But some may have a rough time.

Here are some of the common reasons why a mother cat would stop nursing her kittens:

The Mother Cat Might Not Be Feeling Well

Giving birth to more than one kitten simultaneously and going through the birthing process can be very stressful for the cat to handle. If the mother cat feels ill and suffers from a medical condition, it can make her unable to nurse her little ones.

Mastitis is a condition that affects the nursing mother when a bacterial infection develops in her mammary glands, resulting in an inability to nurse. Symptoms of this situation include swollen, red, and irritated cat’s teats. Bring your cat to a nearby vet if you notice anything similar.

There Might Just Be Too Many Kittens

When the mama cat fails to produce enough milk to feed all her kittens, she might stop nursing a few kittens or the entire litter. If you observe the mother ignoring her kittens and refusing to milk them, she is abandoning them. Another indicator of rejection is when a mother tries to move one or more babies away from the nest to isolate them.

To avoid this problem, when you notice that the mama cat is not equally providing milk to all kittens, you might need to step in and start to bottle-feed some of the kittens to give the cat mother a little break.  

A Young Mother May Lack Experience

Cats can be on heat as young as four months and can give birth around 6 to 7 months of age. This means that if the cat is a young mother, it’s likely for the first-time mother to be overwhelmed and stressed with feeding her kittens.

If cats don’t understand what to do with their little ones, they may run to you for help or run away from the kittens after their birth. Sometimes, cats also suffocate their babies by accident when dealing with stress and anxiety.

The Kitten May Have Become Ill

Mothers have strong instincts, and they can smell it when something’s wrong with their kittens. It can be a birth defect or weakness in their little ones making the mama cat unable to feed them.

Cats don’t think like humans, and nursing unwell kittens may seem like a waste of energy, time, and milk for your cat. So, she might stop caring for them and nursing them, thinking that the weak kittens might not survive. You can help your kittens remain nutritional by providing them the nutrition they need with a syringe or bottle.

Kittens Are Ready To Be On Their Own

Sooner or later, mother cats start to ignore their kittens, especially about 3 to 4 months as they become older. The mother will drive her kittens away even and back off. That’s expected behavior.

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to prevent this from happening. It’s just part of the process of development and growth of the cats. Once the kitten turns 4 weeks old, you can feed them solids and begin the adult diet.

Human Intervention

In the initial after-delivery phase, the mama cat should spend most of the time with her kittens in a secure, isolated location – most probably the nest. It is recommended that you minimize contact with the cat and kittens for at least seven days.

The more you interact with the cat, the more it can stress her out and lead to her stopping nursing her kittens. You can inspect their health and keep the nest clean, but don’t over-snuggle the kittens and watch them. Soon after the first week, kittens and the cat become more relaxed and get used to human intervention.

Ways You Can Prevent Mother Cats From Avoiding Kittens

Before the kittens turn up, it is impossible to guess how a cat would react to her new role as a mother. Some cats may be wonderful pets but not great moms. Here’s what you can do:

  • Make sure the kittens are around their mother at night.
  • Don’t disturb them during the feeding process.
  • Ensure that the mother cat gets a high-protein diet and is healthy.
  • When the mother is away, use supplements with a formula to feed the kittens.
  • If needed, call a vet to provide some suggestions.

Remember, it’s not their fault. It’s just the nature of a cat.

The Bottom Line

We discussed several reasons why a mother cat can leave her little ones. Some reasons are typical, and some might need your intervention. Kittens and the mama cat both need nutrition through the initial growth stage. Monitor the situation closely, and don’t hesitate to call your pet doctor for guidance.

If you need toys or feeding essentials for your kittens or cat to create a better bond between them, you can search for interesting and exciting products at our pet shop. We’ve got everything you need!

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