My Cat has Recently had 6 Kittens but She is Reluctant to Feed Them

by Rachel
(Birmingham, England)

My problems are with my cat and her kittens. Lucy is a year old, about 2 weeks ago she gave birth to 6 kittens. She went into labour upstairs in one of the bedrooms. We put her into a box with some blankets and have kept her there ever since. The kittens are now 2 weeks old and she is very reluctant to feed them.

We have tried putting her back in the box with them but this seems to stress her out when we do this and makes her even more reluctant. Lucy does get in the box with the kittens for about 5 minutes twice a day and she will go up and check on them frequently.

We also have another cat called Lou lou about the same age but not related,she has a litter of 5 kittens that are about 5 weeks old and they reside downstairs in the lounge. Both cats eat and toilet downstairs in the kitchen although we did provide food and a litter tray upstairs for Lucy. Would it be safe to move Lucy's kittens downstairs closer to Loulou's kittens, would this encourage Lucy to be a better mother or would moving them put them at risk.

Reply from Liz (Editor): I'm not a real expert on cat pregnancy, but I can give you some advice around this.

First, are the kittens getting enough milk, or is she hardly feeding them at all? If she's not feeding them enough, you'll know because they'll not be gaining weight and they will be mewing a lot.

If she's not feeding them enough, you need to sort something out fairly quickly, or they won't develop as they should and they may even start to die. I'd suggest taking them to the vet so their weight and development can be checked. The vet can also give you substitute milk, which you can feed them as a supplement. Or the vet may suggest using Loulou as a surrogate mum (at 5 weeks her kittens will soon be weaned but she'll still be producing milk).

I wouldn't move Lucy downstairs - she chose to have the kittens in the bedroom so I'd keep her there. How big is the box she's in? Some cats feel a bit claustrophobic if they're "hemmed in" too close to their kittens, so providing a bigger box may help. Also, mother cats do like to spend time away from their litter (some more than others) - but they usually settle somewhere where they can keep a watch on them.

At this stage, I'd also suggest avoiding handling the kittens - sometimes the smell of a person on the kittens when they're very young will put the mother off feeding them.

I'd continue to provide food and a litter tray upstairs for Lucy. Shortly she'll train the kittens to use the tray, so you'll need it there for that. And providing the food gives her the option of staying with the kittens if she wants to.

The most important advice is to get them checked by the vet if you think they're not getting enough milk.

Best of luck and thank you for your question.

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