If you’ve ever owned an unspayed female cat, then you’ve dealt with the issue of kittens. And if you’re a cat lover with the resources to feed them and care for them, then you’ve probably wondered – can kittens stay with their mother forever?
The short answer is yes. As long as appropriate measures are taken, there’s no reason multiple generations of the same cat family can’t stay in the same household for their entire lives.
For more about housing mother cats and their kittens past that cute and bouncy stage, keep reading.
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Can Kittens Stay With Their Mother Forever?
The fact is, kittens can stay with their mother for as long as you want them to. Once they’re past that critical 8 – 12 weeks of proper growth and socialization, the kittens can go or stay without any issues either way.
The one critical thing to remember is that, as with humans, the relationships between mother and kittens will change as the kittens get older. How they will change depends on several factors, including:
- Whether mom and/or kittens are neutered
- The sociability of the individual cats.
Neutered Versus Unneutered Moms and Kittens Together:
Depending on who’s been to see the vet for spaying and neutering, relationships can get tense once the kittens themselves start reaching the age to reproduce.
Here’s some things to keep in mind if you’ve got unneutered or unspayed animals sharing a domicile.
An unspayed mother cat will eventually start trying to drive kittens away. Her biological clock will start ticking for the next litter, and she’ll start hoarding resources to care for them.
Part of that hoarding process will involve driving away rivals for those resources – including her last litter of kittens, who will be old enough to fend for themselves by that point. Unspayed momma cats are, sadly, VERY likely to want the young cats out of the way before their siblings arrive.
Once the kittens reach breeding age, they’ll start fighting each other for territory and resources. Toms will be looking for females in heat – and not inclined to share.
Female kittens will be looking for mates, but also hoarding resources for their litters, so every tom AND every other female cat is a potential rival – even mom.
And if Mom cat is spayed by the time her kittens start looking to reproduce, she might not be fighting for territory – but it has happened that older cats are bedeviled by younger cats who think they SHOULD be part of the proceedings, even if they aren’t equipped.
Both Unspayed and Unneutered:
Things can get messy quickly if all the cats in your home are of reproductive age and inclination. You’ll need lots of room to keep them apart to avoid fighting – and inbreeding, which will happen if they can’t find other potential breeding partners.
The sociability of the Cats:
The sociability of the cats is another factor that determines the feasibility of your kittens staying with their mother forever. If the reproductive urge is no longer in consideration, then this will be the deciding factor.
Cats are very much individuals, and for the most part, they’re loners. Some are more social than others, but even the most social cat is far from a pack animal like a dog, or a social creature like a human.
One Person, Territorial Cats:
Some cats are jealous of their territory and their people. With these cats, even their own kittens aren’t safe from jealous rages or defense of ‘their’ territory. If you’ve got one of these divas at home, they probably won’t do well with keeping the kittens around past the independent stage.
Of course, the same is true if one of the KITTENS has that independent streak, so keep an eye on those cute little fluff balls to see if one gets a little more defensive than the others about personal space.
Some cats go the opposite way, and are VERY affectionate. These cats are rare, but they love company, and one of these will welcome the chance to keep their kittens with them as long as possible.
In this case, you’ll have no problems with mom, but the kittens have their own personality, so you might get multiple snuggle bugs, or only one or two tightly bonded siblings, or kitten-mom pairs.
The Most Likely Scenario:
Odds are, if your cats don’t fall into the extremes listed above, then mom and kitten will do what two strange cats might do when introduced. Once the tight bond of kittenhood wears off, they’ll settle down, sort out a hierarchy of sorts…and become polite housemates.
If you have a mom and kitten pairing in this scenario, they might be more comfortable with each other than two strange cats, and might even be friends.
But once the kitten no longer needs the nurturing mother cat figure, the deep bond may no longer remain – but they may be closer than two strange cats would be.
Can kittens stay with their mother forever? Sure, but it’s best that all cats involved aren’t dealing with heat cycles and mating.
If you want mom and kitten to have a long, healthy and happy relationship, be sure to make that appointment with your vet as soon as possible. After that…well, that’s up to the cats.