So far since I started fostering, I have had 2 litters that came with a mama. If you’ve never had the privilege of having a nursing mom in your home, let me tell you about some things that truly amaze me about them.
Mom cats, also known as queens, are SO protective of their babies. Some, like feral cats, are aggressively protective and will stand between their babies and any animal of any size, fearlessly, just to protect them. Other cats, the more social kind, are always on alert of where their babies are, especially when they’re very young. Even if they’re the sweetest animal on the planet, if you’re messing with their baby, they want to know why. So when I pick up one of the kittens, mama’s eyes immediately dart over to see what I’m doing with them. A couple times I’ve had to administer antibiotics to some babies when they were 0-3 weeks old and they mewed hard and loud to let you know “Hey! I don’t like this cold tube in my mouth or this gross liquid! Put me down!” When that happens, mom usually comes over to make sure everything is okay. Feral, social, wild, exotic or non-feline, moms protect their babies at all costs.
Mom cats are also incredibly loving (if they’re social). Not only to their babies but to their people as well. Both my foster queens and a couple I had growing up (I’ll address this later) were all so incredibly loving and sweet to me. They purr non-stop, they show you their bellies for rubs and scratches, they head-butt you often to let you know they weren’t done receiving your love, and they’re happiest when they are in your arms or on your lap. It seems too obvious to address but they truly love their babies as well. I’ve seen on so many occasions mom cats holding their kittens while they sleep or nurse, grooming them just because they feel like it, and playing with them when they get older.
Their patience is unmeasured. If you ever watch a mom cat in a room with her babies when they are starting to walk around and learn to play, she quite literally lays there and takes it. I watch the babies climb all over her back when she’s resting, chewing on and clawing at her tail, trying to shove their faces under her belly to nurse while she’s eating, walking in her food dish while she’s eating, fighting each other while laying on her, using her as a stepping stone to get onto toys…etc. The list goes on! And they put up with. it. all.
The first foster mom cat I had didn’t get adopted for months after I returned them. It broke my heart to see her sitting in a cage for so long because I knew how loving and sweet and playful and smart she was. Luckily, she got adopted just a few weeks after I last saw her, goes by the name Peaches now, and is living a full and happy life with her new dad! But it makes me wonder how long my current mom cat, who I call Honey, will be waiting for her new home. Honey is very much the opposite of Peaches. Peaches meowed at the door anytime she heard us walking around or talking. Every time I went in there I played with her and she would play the entire time (sometimes for a full hour). She had so much energy that was only matched by her love. She wanted to be held, played with, scratched and scrubbed. She was probably a little resentful to her kittens when they got bigger and I had to divide my attention between them! Nah, I’m just kitten 😉
But Honey is a welcome change. She’s very quiet, no meowing or scratching at the door. It takes a lot of effort on my part to get her to play and even when she does, it doesn’t last longer than a few minutes. She loves “hunting” though. I recently started playing this new game with her where I hid a wand toy under a rug and moved it around. In the whole month I’ve had her, I’ve never seen her move so quickly and with such determination and agility! It was cool to see her so focused on an activity and I was glad to have discovered a behaviorally enriching thing for her to do!
Honey would make such a wonderful pet for someone who isn’t ready or willing to deal with a kitten. If you want a cat that is calm, sweet, and low-maintenance with a LOT of love to spare, this is your girl. She’s an absolute dream to have around!
I want to address the two cats I’ve personally owned that gave birth to a litter. Luckily, they each only gave birth once but the fact of the matter is they shouldn’t have given birth at all. After the babies weaned, both cats were immediately spayed. But we should have been more diligent and gotten it done sooner. Peaches and Honey shouldn’t have gotten pregnant either. Although watching a birth take place and getting to see the babies grow is an awesome experience, they just should not be happening at the rate they are. The shelters are overflowing with cats and kittens, Maury County included. If they aren’t dropped off at the shelter, sometimes pregnant cats or they’re newborn kittens are met with horrible endings including becoming bait or being abandoned far from home. Every animal deserves a home with people who love, care for and spoil them to death. But the amount of animals far outweighs the number of homes willing to take them in so not every animal gets to have a home before they pass. I hate to end this post on such a drab note but it is so important to talk about spaying and neutering. If you haven’t spayed/neutered your pet, please make the appointment as soon as possible. If you are unsure how to pay for the surgery, there are vet offices that provide the service for either a reduced rate, free of charge, or can set you up on a payment plan. I’ll be making a follow up post to this one on the details of spaying and neutering so be on the lookout for that over the next couple weeks.
If you have any questions or want to get more information/advice on fostering, feel free to write me on Instagram @firststepfoster or you can send me an email at email@example.com.
If fostering just isn’t your thing, Maury County Animal Services is always looking for volunteers to walk the dogs or play with the cats!
Maury County Animal Shelter
1233 Mapleash Ave,