Your cat has recently given birth to a litter of kittens. They are growing fast, and you realize it will soon be time to find their future homes. Before you start the process, you wonder, “Will my cat miss her kittens? “.
Typically, a mother cat will not miss her kittens; if she does, it will not be for a long time.
Mother cats usually only miss their kittens when they have become separated before weaning or when a kitty passes away before being weaned off.
Does your cat truly miss her kittens, or could it be something else? Let’s find out.
Yes, if they are separated from the kittens before weaning.
A mother cat can miss her kittens, but typically that only happens when she and her kittens are separated before they are weaned.
A cat’s bond with her kittens is short-term. Usually, the bond between mother and kitten will only last while the kittens are still suckling from their mother.
Kittens start to wean around four to six weeks and stop around ten to twelve weeks of age. When weaning is done, and the kittens are independent, the mother cat will start to forget them once they are separated.
If your cat has properly weaned off her kittens, she will not experience any feelings of longing for her kittens.
For cats, this behavior is normal and natural. So don’t feel sad for your cat. She’s doing what comes naturally to her.
With all that being said, how can you tell if a mother cat is really missing her kittens?
Is your cat really missing her kittens? (5 signs!)
Sign 1: Searching and meowing
How can you tell if your cat is really missing her kittens or if it is something else? The mother cat will search for her kittens.
If you notice your cat running around your home, looking under the furniture, and smelling everything in sight, you are experiencing a momma cat searching for her missing kittens.
You may also hear her meowing and waiting to hear a response back from her kittens; this is another way a mother cat will search for her kittens.
You might have removed her kittens before they were done weaning.
Mother cats will search for their kittens when they are removed. Normally it’s just for a couple of days, but when they are removed too early, it can last a little longer than that.
Not to worry, though. Your cat will soon forget and return to her normal routine.
Sign 2: Odd behavior
If your cat misses her kittens, she may have some odd behavior. A mother cat could start acting oddly towards other animals in the home, but that oddness could also be extended to toys and stuffed animals!
This odd behavior can range from being overly motherly to being aggressive towards the other animals. This can be a sign of stress.
If it’s from missing her kittens, her odd behavior should subside within a couple of days. Just watch her behavior and act when necessary.
Sign 3: Decrease in appetite
A decrease in appetite can be seen in cats that miss their kittens, especially in one that is grieving.
If you notice a decrease in appetite with your cat, call the vet, decreased appetite can also be an underlying symptom of a much more serious health issue.
In the meantime, try to liven up your cat’s mood. Try letting your cat lay in their favorite spot in the house or buy them their favorite treat.
Boosting their levels of serotonin might help them regain an appetite.
Sign 4: Insomnia
Even though humans suffer from insomnia when we are depressed or miss our loved ones, cats are not the same.
If you think your cat has insomnia because she misses her kittens, it is likely to be something else. Insomnia does not frequently occur in cats.
A common cause of insomnia in cats can be itchy bedding. A bed that irritates their skin can cause restless nights.
Sign 5: Aggressiveness
Cats can show aggressiveness towards humans and other animals when they miss their kittens. This is not common, but it can occur.
Aggression is more common when a mother cat first has her kittens. During this time, a mother cat tries her hardest to keep her kittens safe.
First-time cat moms are especially aggressive regarding their babies, even if they are usually the sweetest cat ever.
She doesn’t know if her human owner or the other pets in the home will or will not hurt her kittens. Luckily, the mother cat will stop being aggressive as the kittens grow older.
Why cats rarely miss their kittens after they wean?
It is natural for a mother cat to forget
A mother cat that misses her kittens in the animal kingdom can be a hindrance. Like many other mothers in the animal kingdom, a mother cat’s main objective is to raise her kittens to be self-reliant.
The faster they become independent, the faster the mother cat can do what’s natural for her – reproduce.
Therefore, it’s natural and uncommon for mother cats to miss their kittens in the same way humans miss their children, especially after they have completed weaning.
Kittens’ smell and meow change
Kittens’ smell and meow will change when they are apart from their mom for too long.
Smell and sound are how cats recognize each other; they do not use vision to remember each other as humans do.
When a kitten’s smell and meow change too much and they have been separated from their mothers, the mother cat will no longer remember their kittens.
Your cat may also exhibit signs of awkwardness and hostility when the kittens are around her. Some mother cats may even swat and growl at the kittens.
This is because she doesn’t remember the kittens as she did before, and she is ready for them to leave the nest.
How to help your cat when they miss their kittens
These mostly apply to cats who are separated from their mother before the kittens wean.
Giving them attention or space
Try helping your cat when they are missing their kittens by giving them more attention or less space. Since every cat is different, only you know what is best for your cat.
Is your cat being super affectionate? Is she rubbing on you, wanting to cuddle with you, and following you everywhere you go? Give her all the attention she needs until she returns to normal.
But what if your once cuddly cat is now leaving the room when you enter, hiding under the bed, and not acting like herself since the kittens left?
You can try giving her the space she needs, but if this behavior continues, you should research other ways to help your cat.
Your cat might need to be medicated. Cats do not like changes, and a mother cat may experience anxiety or depression if her kittens are taken away before weaning; this can be a traumatic experience for the mother cat.
If your cat is showing signs of anxiety or depression, and there are no signs of her getting any better, you should take your cat to the vet.
The veterinarian can properly diagnose her and potentially give her medication that can help.
Spaying your cat will help regulate her hormones and stop her from going into heat, thus helping her cope with missing her kittens and stopping her from having future kittens.
Spaying can be done on a mother cat while still nursing her kittens or right after you have placed them into their forever homes.
When a mother cat gets spayed, it can also potentially lengthen her life span.
Cats that are spayed can live about five more years than non-spayed cats. That’s more time you get to spend with your cat!
When finding forever homes for your kittens, remember it is natural for a mother cat and her kittens to separate.
In our human eyes, it’s a bittersweet moment, but to a cat, it’s just how they naturally are and will continue to be.
Cats do not have the ability to process the idea of family in the same way humans can.
Mother cats might not miss their kittens the same way a human mother would, but they are still nurturing, attentive, and protective mothers to their kittens.