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The litter tray

about to adopt a mother cat & her kitten. What do I need to know?

25 replies

MrsKitty · 08/06/2013 14:47

So, despite my MN name, I've never owned a cat or had a lot to do with one, but a couple of months ago we decided that we'd like to get a kitten. Went to the local rescue centre today and they had a beautiful cat and kitten to home as well as loads of other kittens. The centre was keen to house the mother and kitten together as she was the only one from the litter (the other one in the litter died). They were both lovely, although a little nervous. The cat took a swipe at me & DS (6) although I think that may have been because there were 4 of us in a small space and she may have been intimidated a bit? The rescue woman said she'd never done it before....

So it's between the mother and kitten or 2 handreared kittens. Honestly I'm drawn to the mother & kitten, even though the hand reared ones were spectacularly snugly and playful versus the mother and kitten who seemed to need a bit more coaxing...Is her swiping at us a cause for concern? I'd like to think not, but I don't want to make a poor decision without really understanding cats! She was spayed a couple of days ago so it's no wonder she's grumpy I would imagine. The woman said she's usually very placid and laid back.

What is the relationship like between mother and daughter cat as they get older -are there likely to be any power struggles or territorial issues? What else do I need to consider?

Thanks for any advice anyone can give - I'm a complete novice!

  • obviously pictures will be posted in due course - I've been lurking around here long enough to know that that's a necessity Grin.
OP posts:
elfycat · 08/06/2013 14:59

My cat was very grumpy for a few days after her operation.

I took her in from a neighbour, who was moving abroad. A few days later I began to suspect she was pregnant and after 4 weeks she had 3 kittens. We rehomed two and kept the third.

To begin with the mother cat was a bit stand-offish with us, but I spent some time sitting with her and now she's a lovely family pet and good with my 2 preschoolers. I think adopting a mother and kitten would be lovely, but I have to say that my 2 don't seem very close. Hardly ever groom each other or even sit together. I get the impression they are companionable and mildly fond of one another. There shouldn't be territorial issues with them as they'll arrive together and joint own everything they want to. My mother cat did seem a bit peeved when I didn't give her son away but she got over it.

MrsKitty · 08/06/2013 15:08

Thanks Elfycat. They seemed very cosy at the centre - snuggled in together and the woman said that they groom each other and always sleep together (kitten is 8 wks)...

OP posts:
Fluffycloudland77 · 08/06/2013 15:28

At about 12 weeks iirc the mum will try to drive the kitten off, snapping at it, hissing at it etc but that's their way of getting the kitten to leave home.

At 8 weeks they still like them. I can imagine mum swiped you because you are strangers and that's her baby and she wants to protect it.

We had a mum and daughter, both alpha females who didn't care for each other at all but who both got on with an un-related male who was above all the drama who had a more food orientated outlook on life.

cozietoesie · 08/06/2013 15:45

You mean he was a pig?

I'd ignore the swipe, OP, but I wouldn't get a mother and daughter.

cozietoesie · 08/06/2013 15:51

Laptop trouble again.

I suspect that the rescue are keen for you to take both of them because they think that the kitten makes Mom more attractive to rehome. Personally, I'd go for Mom. The kitten will likely find a home easy peasy and they probably won't live well together.

pearlgirl · 08/06/2013 16:00

We had a mother cat and her kitten from a rescue centre - they were fine together - but we're being rehomed because she had had 2 litters of kittens and her owners had kept a kitten from each litter who did not get on.
We currently have a mother cat( a stray)who had six kittens - we have kept two and they all get on fine. The kittens are both girls.

MrsKitty · 08/06/2013 16:02

Oh dear, really? I was kind of hoping (somewhat naively perhaps) that it'd be best of both worlds - help a big 'more difficult to home' cat and get a lovely little super cute kitten...

Going to sleep on it anyway - any further opinions ( both positive and not so) welcomed!

OP posts:
MrsKitty · 08/06/2013 16:05

X post with pearlgirl - that's good to hear - how old are the kittens now?

OP posts:
cozietoesie · 08/06/2013 16:05

Remember that the 'lovely little super cute kitten' will be a grown cat within a few months. Just think on that.

pearlgirl · 08/06/2013 21:38

sorry - didn't check back earlier - our kittens were born last August and are now the same size as their mum, who was only about eight months old when they were born. (She was pregnant when she came to us). The only way I can tell them apart when I am not holding them is by their collars.

gobbin · 09/06/2013 15:50

We took in a young mother (10 months) and her two kittens (one male one female) last September.

They all get on fine and are clearly a close family unit, but mum is def closer to her boy than girl. They still groom each other but the girl is much more independent. Mum occ spits at girl when she's been out and comes in all in a rush, but think this is more down to being startled. Within 5 mins they can be curled up.

One thing I will say is that you might find the kitten less responsive to you as she still has mum to go to for comfort. Our kittens were handled loads when small but neither really likes being picked up, particularly the girl. They will come to you though and enjoy being fussed, stroked, jumping on the bed, lying with you on the sofa etc. the little girl particularly loves her belly being stroked - she's more trusting on her back than upright, which is unusual!

They are all nearly full grown now and work as independents within a clear unit of three. Quite sweet really.

pearlgirl · 09/06/2013 18:09

Gobbling -it is interesting about your girl being comfy on her back - our three are exactly the same and often throw themselves at our feet and roll around until you tickle their tummies.

pearlgirl · 09/06/2013 18:19

Sorry -that should have said Gobbin -stupid predictive text thing and daft me for for not checking.Blush

MrsKitty · 09/06/2013 18:45

That's great to hear, Gobbin.

Well, we decided to go for it, and our kittys are home with us! Only trouble is, the cat went under the toy cupboard as soon as she arrived and hasn't come out since (about 3 hours now...) And the kitten has done a bit of exploring but was very nervous and has now gone back under the toy cupboard. Any tips on how to coax them out? And how do I encourage them to visit the litter tray and their food?

We're restricting them to downstairs right now, downstairs is a kitchen and living room accessed by an open archway which can't really be blocked off, but from where they are hiding in the living room the can't see the litter or food as they are in the kitchen....

OP posts:
cozietoesie · 09/06/2013 18:54

I'd leave them alone in peace and quiet for the evening. That should reassure them - and I'd put the tray and food in there with them. Once they used them, you can move them because they should seek out the smell.

MrsKitty · 09/06/2013 19:11

Thanks cozietoesie, I'll move all their kit now and leave it all in the living room overnight, then move it all back to the kitchen tomorrow then.

OP posts:
elfycat · 09/06/2013 20:00

Can you go and sit in there quietly for a while. Not too near them, not paying attention to them. Bonus points if you have a newspaper, laptop or knitting that they could come and sit on

I did this with my soon-to-be mother cat when we got her and she soon came to be nosy and sit on my knitting.

cozietoesie · 09/06/2013 20:07

Yes, that would be a good idea. Just you though. (No DCs.)

MrsKitty · 09/06/2013 23:20

Have been sitting reading since DC went to bed, the kitten ventured out for some food about 9pm, did a poo on the floor behind the tray (!) and has been getting braver ever since (although stays on 'her' side of the room and scuttles away if I come closer. The cat came out very briefly about an hour ago, had a stretch, looked around then went back under. No food or water taken.

What do I do with the uneaten 'wet' food ? Bin/fridge/ leave out overnight? If I take away the wet food should I leave some dry out overnight for the cat that hasnt eaten?

OP posts:
cozietoesie · 09/06/2013 23:27

Myself, I'd bin it and replace with fresh. It dries out very quickly and you need it to be appetising.

Having said which, I'd be surprised if they didn't have some nosh and water in the early hours.

Have they got a blanket or something to sleep on?

MrsKitty · 09/06/2013 23:59

They've got a choice of boxes/plastic round trug thingies with blankets in, but are still ensconced under the cabinet right now. Kitten has been having a good old explore, then scaring herself and runnning back in, cat looks as though she's seriously considering coming out again.

Should I just put a blanket on the floor, or will they figure out the boxes?

Also - I assume I leave a light on for them overnight?

OP posts:
gobbin · 10/06/2013 07:05

So how did it go? Don't worry if they take a while to be brave. Our three spent the first weekend we had them under the sofa.

When they do approach, hold a finger end out for them to approach and sniff as it looks like a cat's nose. Do this for a few days and they'll get bolder approaching you. Then start to rub the side of their face with this finger after they've sniffed it. Then move on to stroking side of the body.

I had to Google how to get new kittens to approach you as ours wouldn't come near us those first few days and found the tips above on a cat psychology site. Might sound daft but it worked and meant we were handling then successfully in a fortnight.

After we'd got them approaching and being stroked we made sure all the playing we did was on the floor with pe toys dragged across our laps so the kittens would follow. They're now total lap cats!

All this was much more challenging than when we've had a new single kitten as one on its own will see you as mum and come to you for luffs. A family is more self contained and they have to accept you into their gang!

Hope this helps, when I can work out how to put pics up from my new phone I will.

MrsKitty · 10/06/2013 07:31

Thanks Gobbin - that's really useful stuff.

Well, I was up until gone 1am, despite having to be up for work at 530 this morning [yaaaaawwwwwn] but I wanted to be sure that mummy cat was okay and had had something to eat...

After my last post she finally poked her head out, and gradually came out from under the cupboard, ate her food and then promptly returned under the cupboard. Kitten, on the other hand, was a bit braver, and spent a good half hour or more hunting her shadow and a pine cone dd had brought home.

When I came down this morning there was poo in the litter tray (and no where else, as far as I noticed, which is good!) But it was all over the place - the liner had made it all skiddy so I've since taken it out. I've got an open tray and a covered tray because a) I wanted to make sure they could see the litter, and b) I wasn't sure if the kitten would be able to get in to the hooded one just yet.... They've both used the open tray but ultimately I'd like them using the covered one - should I encourage that right away (how?) Or leave it for a bit?

So, this morning I put down some more food before I left, and DH is going to pop home at lunchtime to check /feed some more. The dc (6&3) are desperate to see them but are being very good and restrained and understand that it'll take time.

I do hope they're going to like us and their new home!

OP posts:
cozietoesie · 10/06/2013 07:37

Good progress then.


I've always used open trays - but that's been down to my cats. I think you'll find as many preferences here as posters! I'll leave it to others to advise on closed tray use.

Well done the DC. It's an awful big deal for children to be so restrained.

pearlgirl · 10/06/2013 23:49

We started our kittens off on an open letter tray and when they got bigger swapped it for the bottom bit of a closed tray, which was higher so they needed to be bigger so they could climb in. After a bit we put the lid on without the door and eventually the door. I had never used a closed one until this set of cats but with a toddler and lots of cats who seemed adept at getting the litter everywhere I have found it keeps the mess down.

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