For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you know that when I walked into the kitten room yesterday morning two of the kittens were outside of the basket I am using for a nest for the family. It was so funny watching the two of them swim around the room because they were unable to get their feet underneath them that I had to run back upstairs to get my phone to take some photos and video that I shared on Instagram.
I picked up the kittens and gave them a once over, they seemed totally fine and I put them back in the basket and went off to work.
I brought up the dropcam website and scrolled back through the night to see when the kittens got out of the basket. I was expecting to find they climbed out, but it turns out Mina pulled them out of the basket herself.
Then sometime in the early afternoon she ended up moving all five of them out of the basket and put them under the couch where she hung out so often when she was pregnant.
When you share things like this on social media, you often get advice as to what is going wrong and what you should do. I was told more than once that there must be something wrong with the two kittens she "kicked out" of the nest. One person even stated that I should remove them and hand rear them before Mina smothered them. There was also some speculation that the basket was just too small for the growing family (this has actually been speculated on several times over the past couple of weeks)
I share this as a starting point of a discussion. As you can see by my archives over there, I've been fostering since 2002. I have no idea how many mothers I've fostered nor how many cats have given birth at my house (I do need to go back through my archives though because I have wondered that many times) but I know it has been a lot.
In my experience, cats do not abandoned kittens because there is 'something wrong' with them. I have had a few younger mothers with larger litters have issues but more because they were overwhelmed with the number of mouths to feed. They have a tendency to move the kittens they want to keep to a new nest while leaving some others behind. When I find that happening I will get some goat milk and feed mom as well as do a feeding with all of the kittens once or twice a day. This is simply a supplement to the nutritious milk that mom provides, and gives her a bit of a break. I would also double up on the monitoring and making sure they are well fed and are gaining weight to try to head off any serious problems.
I have also experienced mother cats care for and protect kittens that had no hope of survival. I had a mother cat continue to love and care for a kitten that had 'something wrong' and who had no hope of getting past her 12 week.
So to simply assume that a kitten outside of the nest has something wrong is a pure myth that needs to die; people need to stop making and sharing that assumption. If I were new to fostering and I had listened to the woman who said that Mina would smother her kittens I would have deprived them of several weeks of the nutrition that mom provides and would have put them on a milk replacer, many of which are made with sugar based and or GMO ingredients. It would have also deprived them of critical socialization time with their siblings. Yes this happens to orphan kittens all the time and they grow up 'just fine' but we really do not know the long term effects. Kitten milk replacer is so very helpful when there is no other options, but in this - and many other instances - we have the option to leave the kits with the mom.
As for the not having enough room, when given choices, mother cats often choose small spaces for their families. I've had a few mothers choose to move their families from where I have them to smaller spaces. They like to keep their kittens close.
So in this case, where were the kittens?? &When I got home from work Mina was sitting in front of the empty basket (see first photo up there at the top of this post)
|this cat bed was peeking out from under the couch|
|Mina apparently isn't very good at the hide part of hide and seek|
|LADY!! we was sleepin!|
|The Kraken really does make me laugh|
|the space they are in vs the space they were in|
|and they are back in the basket.. but with new bedding|
What cat myths do you wish would stop being spread