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Mother cat and kittens separated in cats' home. Cruel or wise?

(7 Posts)
juniper9 Wed 10-Apr-13 16:54:44

I adopted my kitten from a vets with a cattery-type-thing attached to the back, which is managed by the RSPCA.

It was basically a shed (with no fixed door and no permanent heating) with about 15 cat cages inside: 3 rows of 5 cages, I think.

One of the cats was the mother of three kittens. All four cats were housed separately. Every time one of the kittens cried, the mother would pace in her cage and call out to them. She couldn't see them as they were all on the same wall.

I asked why they had separated the mother seeing as she seemed distressed, and they said because she and they need to get used to being alone. Fine, I thought, but that can happen in a few days when the kittens have all been rehomed, it doesn't need to happen there and then.

Do you think it was cruel of them to keep her apart from her kittens? The kittens were 12-13 weeks old, incidentally. The one I adopted is now nearly 2 so this was a while ago!

QueenStromba Wed 10-Apr-13 17:22:42

From what the very wise thecatneuterer has said, Celia Hammond rehome the mum with one of the kittens because it's traumatic for the mum to have all of her kittens taken away. I've seen listings on the Battersea website for cats that have had kittens while they were there and they're always on their own so I think Celia Hammond might be in the minority.

Lonecatwithkitten Wed 10-Apr-13 18:57:55

12 to 13 weeks is way beyond the normal weaning age when they would go to their new homes of 8 to 9 weeks. So really it is not uncommon to separate them at this point and allowing Mum to feed on can be detrimental to her body weight particularly if she maybe had less than ideal body weight before kindling. In an ideal world yes they would be somewhere where she could not hear them, but this is not always possible.
I adopted a little cat who has had a terrible time whilst rearing 5 kittens. As I don't have facilities to rear kittens she did go to an RSPCA home to rear them and then came back to me. Whilst in the RSPCA home she was self epilating around her injury site which we thought could be due to chronic pain, but once settled in with me she stopped and her hair grew back so we guess that it was the stress of the whole situation before rehoming. I firmly believe that once in a loving stable forever home those 'stress wounds' heal.

thecatneuterer Thu 11-Apr-13 02:13:57

That does seem a bit cruel to me. I can see there could be an argument for taking the kittens from the mother, but unless there was some pressing medical reason we would always leave her with one. And kittens seem to hate to be on their own, so we would always home them in pairs so they don't get too upset and will always have a sibling to play with.

I think even if we would be prepared to home them all separately (which we wouldn't) we'd still try to keep them all together while they were waiting for homes. And of course separating them all takes up far more space in the rescue and will reduce the number of cats you can take in. It really does seem very odd.

duchesse Thu 11-Apr-13 02:19:03

Our cat was a feral stray found at 5 weeks of age with his mother and siblings. The shelter feels it best to separate feral kittens from their mothers as they are better socialised away from their mother, with humans, and thereafter more likely to find a new owner. So it's actually doing them a kindness in the long run (sparing them a precarious life in the wild). And incidentally 12-13 weeks is a VERY long time for a kitten to stay with its mother. Our cat was half grown by that age.

issey6cats Thu 11-Apr-13 17:04:25

the rescue i work at adopts kitten out at 11 weeks but the mom and kittens are kept together till the kittens go, some moms love still having thier kittens with them some moms have had enough of the kits by then, but having them in a different part of the same room and mom not being able to reach them does seem a bit harsh as she would think her kits were being hurt and even feral moms we keep the kits with mom and give the kits lots of handling and socialising from avery young age so by the time they go to thier homes they are on thier way to being domestic kits, we have even manged recently to tame one very feral young lady mom cat she is now living very happily in a home

juniper9 Fri 12-Apr-13 16:20:08

The kittens definitely weren't feral. The only reason I can think of is that one of the three was very timid. She was an absolute sweetie but I needed one who would stand up to my mardy old cat.

I guess they could argue it have the timid one a chance on her own.

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