My bunch of kitty babies

by Sheree
(East London, South Africa)

Hi there.

I have many questions about my cats, so I'll start with some background so you can get an idea of the situation...
We rescued a kitten from a building site a few years back. Her name is Kitty (couldn't think of a name at the time so the "here kitty kitty" kind of stuck). She was very thin and small and had been abandoned by her mother. We took her home and she has crawled into our hearts.
She became pregnant just before we moved to a new house (we only found out later).
She had a litter of 3 kittens (next to my head while I was sleeping lol). We still have the female from that litter, Maggie.
After the first litter, Kitty had another two. While she was still nursing the 3rd litter, a litter of feral kittens was rescued from an excavator. Their eyes were still closed when they were found, so they were very young. Kitty was fantastic and nursed these starving babies along with her own. It all proved to be too much however, and we ended up putting her on supplements and rotating the kittens between Kitty and being hand fed.
Around this time we had male cats sniffing around Kitty already so it was off to the vet for her and Maggie.
The kittens continued to nurse with her and we continued to supplement her after she had been spayed.
We kept a male and a female from Kitty's 3rd litter, Spotsie (male) and Sadie (female).
Sadie has since been spayed as well, but Spotsie is still unneutered.
So thats our 4 babies now, Kitty, Maggie, Spotsie and Sadie... :)
1st of all, I'd like to know why Kitty has suddenly increased in size? She has always been a tiny cat, but now her stomach is literally the size of a soccer ball. She is active (not as much as she was when she was younger) and does not constantly eat and she eats the same as the others.
We haven't noticed any signs of health problems. No straining to use the litter box, no irrational behaviour. Could it be the combination of being spayed and having to be supplemented??

Answer by Kate
Umm difficult one, if she is slightly less active than before which could be the case now that she is spayed and if the supplements also are calorific or if she is eating the same amount of food before this difference could over time increase her weight. However if the change has been fairly sudden or disproportionate to the amount of food and exercise she is getting then if it were me i would want to have her checked by a vet in case there is something else going on.

Also, she doesn't want any of the other cats near her. She hisses and bats them away (even though they are her own kittens). But we are also not convinced that it is any form of pain etc that she is acting out because she is best friends with the dog and allows him to deflea and lick her. Maggie is also acting like this now, but mainly towards the younger female Sadie. Its a vicious cycle... Kitty picks on Maggie, Maggie picks on Sadie lol. Is it territorial? I consciously make sure that I give each cat the same amount of attention. I greet them all individually when I get home and they all get their own "pamper time".
What can I do to ease the tension between them? I don't allow them to fight, they each have their own food bowls and they tend to keep to their own sleeping spots.

Answer by KAte
well it could be territorial and it may be because one of the kittens is still un neutered. Or if they have recently been spayed their hormone levels may not have dropped enough to reduce the territorial behavior.

So either this behavior will subside as their hormone levels drop and if you have the other cat neutered so there is no scents in the house which can cause this behavior. It is very natural for mother cats to want to chase away kittens once they are old enough if they are not spayed, so there may be a hormonal issue here.

Next, I would like to know if some cats are just born paranoid? Sadie's original name was "Scaredy Cat" which eventually became Sadie. She has always been in the same house, has never had any kittenhood trauma and has never left her mother. Why then is she so scared that it took me months of care and patience to get her to trust me? The day she let me stroke her for the first time became a milestone in the house (we damned near threw a party!). She is still very nervous for any sudden movement and only my boyfriend and I are allowed to touch her. How can I get her to feel more secure and loved???

Answer by KAte
Yes some cats are just more nervous than others, please see my page about this issue here

Also, she still has the stitches in from her op, but she refuses to let me take them out. I have heard that they eventually fall out. Is it true and is it healthy??

Answer by KAte
Hi it all depends on the type of stiches she had, some dissolve some need to be taken out. You need to check with your vet.

Is it normal for unneutered males to be so thin? Spotsie has been dewormed and he eats well, but he is very thin (toying with the idea of feeding him some of my boyfriend's mass builder lol).

Answer by KAte
I would not recommend that you feed your cat any human supplements, there are cat ones available. However un nuetered male cats are generally thinner, i think this is due to all the energy they have and use and also they need to be fighting fit to find mates.

Lastly, I am moving very soon and I would like to know how to ensure my cats don't run away? The last time I moved it was only Kitty and she was pregnant so she stuck to me like glue. She didn't even explore the new place until after she had given birth. But now I have 4 cats and I'm very anxious about them disappearing.
Any tricks to making them see the place as 'home'?

Answer by KAte
Please see my page about moving with cats for sme advice on this here
Thanks so much for your help! Now you know my babies' life stories just like everyone else I know!! :)

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