Feral Cats are different from domestic cats in a lot of ways. Contrary to domestic cats who prefer to spend days snuggled up on the couch, feral cats are born to live in the wild.
They find their food, live in defense, and have high survival instincts. Feral cats train their kittens in a way that they can live their lives without getting into much trouble.
But many people have an objection to the fact that feral cats leave their kittens? In this article, we will discuss if this speculation is true and, if so, why do feral cats do it.
Do feral cats abandon their kittens?
Feral Cats leave their young off-springs when they are about five weeks old. This happens as a learning process when the mother restricts the nursing process and encourages her kittens to go out in the wild on their own to hunt and find a living.
However, the process is eventual, and mother cats do not leave their kittens outright.
In the first few days or weeks, the kittens go out to hunt and come back to their mother’s nest. Eventually, they stop coming back to the nest when they become older and independent.
Cats are generally good caretakers, and they take great care of their kittens. However, these are some other situations when the mother cat abandons her kittens:
If the kittens are sick
You will often come across a single abandoned kitten. Mother cats abandon the kitten that is sick. When the mom-cat believes that her kitten will die, she abandons her.
This is to save the milk and the energy for the other kittens who have a better chance of surviving.
It is also assumed that cats who abandon their sick kittens do not have to stand and watch their younger ones die. Among feral cats, abandoning a kitten is often an act of desperation.
If the mother is no more
From our eyes, it may appear as if the mother cat has abandoned her kittens while the mother cat dies in a fruitful number of cases.
It can be due to an accident while searching for food or diseases. Luckily, orphaned kittens often find a way to survive as other mother cats might nest them till they reach the age of independence.
If the mother of the kittens is misplaced, then the kittens might get abandoned. The mother cat is often caught for spaying.
When neuters catch the cat while the kittens run around, they assume that their mother has abandoned them. Upon returning, if the mother cats don’t find their kittens where they left, the chances of finding the kittens are slim.
Just like all animals, cats have varying personalities. While some cats are overprotective about their kittens, some do not have motherly instincts. Though it is very rare, a cat who does not have love or affection towards her kittens will reject them immediately and abandon them.
Mother is nearby
The mother cat doesn’t abandon her kittens at times but goes out, leaving them alone for days. This is generally in search of food. It only seems that the mother cat has abandoned her kittens, but it isn’t the case.
When do Feral Cats abandon their kittens?
Feral cats do not abandon their kittens, and rather when the kittens are five weeks old, they stop the nurturing process to encourage their independence. Feral cats tend to leave their kittens unattended for some time while they go out hunting in search of food, but they never abandon their kittens at once.
In the first two weeks, feral cats give their kittens the majority of the time, nurturing them. Since the babies are blind and deaf for the first fourteen days, the mother cat does everything for them.
After that, the mother will leave for some hours in search of food so that she can keep herself and the kittens nourished. By the fifth week, the kittens can eat solid food and are expected to hunt on their own and find food.
Do Feral cat families stay together?
For the first 14 days, the mother serves her kitten full time. As for their father, many feral kittens do not even meet their father most of the time. The mother and the kittens stay together until the kittens learn to find their own food and make their own living.
Once they are good, the mother leaves the children. Sometimes, when the mother is overly possessive about her kittens, she visits them even when they are as big as her.
Where do feral cats hide their kittens outside?
Feral cats look for a safe and secure place to have and hide their kittens. They look for areas covered on all four sides so they can hide from hunters as much as possible. This surrounding helps the mother cat defend her kittens at an advantage. If any intruder arrives, it becomes easy for her to attack her and scare them off.
There are some precautions that the mother cats take. The birthplace of the kittens is where they hide and also where the mother can always find her kittens while they are still young.
Since the kittens start to wander after a few days, the nest should not be located near a running stream where the kittens can fall into any drop-off.
After giving birth, the mother keeps changing the place of the litter to stay safe from predators. Moving the kittens ensures that only the mother is aware of the location of her kittens.
In conclusion, feral cats never abandon their kittens. They nurture the kittens for 5-6 weeks, and once the babies have become independent enough to find their own food, protect themselves, and make their own living, the kittens leave her.
The kittens, after growing up, are free to move out on their own or stay with their family. Either way, they are not abandoned by their mothers in any way.
They are completely aloof of the living and conditions of the mother and the kittens. On the other end, Feral fathers may not even be aware of the kittens or if even the mating was successful.
Hi There, AJ Oren here. I am the founder of this amazing pet blog & a passionate writer who loves helping pet owners to learn more about their pets through my articles. I am also the content manager of this blog. I have experience in pet training and behavior, sheltering, and currently working for a veterinary clinic.