Nature can be tough, and most of the animals are on their own as soon as they are old enough to potentially survive without the protection of their parents. The human race has come to pet some animals, therefore, want to know all about their nature. Most of us love cats, and those who pet them often engage in adoption or giving away kittens. The answer to this question is also the answer to ‘when do mother cats leave their kittens.’
When do mother cats leave their kittens?
When a kitten is twelve weeks old, the mother cat usually desserts it, leaving it to take care of itself (or the owners in case of adoption). The age can go up and down a few weeks or so in some cases, but usually, it is the third month of a kitten’s life when this sad but inevitable event takes place.
Can You Adopt a Kitten Before It Is Twelve Weeks Old?
It is not recommended to take a kitten away from its mother before she naturally abandons it, as it can damage the kitten’s health and well-being. If the cat is not weaned, it can detriment its condition to fatal levels. Weaning in the wild usually takes place earlier than in homes. When a kitten starts to eat solid food, it is usually strong enough to be on its own.
Why Do Mother Cats Leave Their Kittens?
When the kittens have no other food source than their mother’s milk, the mother cats do not leave them for more than an hour or so. They have to go to satisfy their thirst and hunger; otherwise, they would not leave them for even a minute. So if you come across a kitten or a set of them, do not assume that they are abandoned, or their mother has died. But if you notice the kittens being unattended for some hours, there is a good chance that they need your help.
However, when it is time, it is natural for cats to leave their kittens for good. This phenomenon is designed by evolution for the purpose of furthering the species. As important as the question, “when do mother cats leave their kittens?” is, here are some important reasons why mother cats leave them:
The Cat is in Heat or Pregnant
Cats usually go back into the season after just eight weeks of giving birth, up and down a few weeks, depending on their species. In the wild, if a mother cat is in heat and cannot find a suitable mate in the locality of where her kittens are, she might leave them to find her next partner. And if she does find a mate and gets pregnant, she would leave the kittens as she cannot share her food or feed her milk to the kittens anymore because she needs the nutrients for herself to be able to feed the babies in her belly.
Most of the time, the kittens are old enough to survive and are weaned when their mother gets pregnant and leaves them. But instances may occur where an early pregnancy might force a mother cat to dessert her kittens earlier than she should. The results of that are usually not pretty. While such events in the wild are unfortunate and beyond our control, it is important to keep your female cats away from male cats until their kittens are old enough.
The Kittens Are Sick
When do mother cats leave their kittens? When they are weak or sick. Nature can be cruel, but it sure knows how to survive. The rules of the animal kingdom fortune the strong and the weak are often left behind. If the mother cat sees that one or all of her kittens are sick or weak and require too much of her energy, she will leave them to focus on the other kittens or the next batch. If a single kitten is weak or sick, the mother often takes her other kittens to a different location, leaving it to wait for its end. If the kitten is fortunate, though, it will already have an owner to take care of it and nurture it to ensure its well being.
The Kittens Are Weaned
It is really the best-case scenario for a mother cat to leave her offspring. When the kittens are capable of eating solid food, the cats start distancing themself from the kittens slowly and then suddenly leave them to be on their own.
The Kittens Learn How to Hunt
In the wild, a mother cat would start taking the kittens hunting with her a few weeks before the 12 weeks mark. She would encourage them to hunt with her and show them her techniques to do it. When she is sure that they have picked up on things and can take on the task themselves, she abandons them.
Our Final Thoughts
All animals have a way of living that is best suited for their survival. Cats do not live in packs or groups but rather go about doing their business individually. While in the case of some animals, fathers play a more active role in raising their offspring, when it comes to cats, it is the mother who takes up that role. It is in the cat’s DNA to nourish and nurture their kittens to the best of their abilities. They do everything in their power to protect them from predators and are not comfortable with even the father of the litter approaching or coming near them.
Now that you know the answer to the question ‘when do mother cats leave their kittens?’ you can help a litter if its mother abandons them earlier than she should. Mother cats have a strong maternal instinct and bonding with their kittens, and it is important to show the mother if her kitten dies or they will keep looking for them for many hours or even days. Mother cats mourn the death of their kittens by keeping the body close and burying them in a safe place. Such behaviour suggests that it might be difficult for cats to leave their kittens, but they do it so that their species can survive.