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Is it okay for my cat that lost her kittens to help raise other kittens?

Is it okay for my cat that lost her kittens to help raise other kittens?

Our question this week was:

Hi Doctor,

I have 2 rescued cats that I believe are littermates. They were both pregnant. Weedle had 4 kittens on Thursday. Penelope had only 1 kitten that was stillborn on Saturday morning. She was anxious and kept getting in her box and meowing, so I put her in the kennel with Weedle and the 4 kittens. She calmed down and starting mothering them. Weedle didn't object. Some of the kittens are now nursing on Penelope. Did I do the right thing? Both cats are on the small side and I thought Weedle could use the help raising 4 kittens. I enjoy receiving your newsletters, they are full of useful info. I also enjoy the pet pics and videos, they are very entertaining. Thanks in advance for all of your help,

Dona Dunham

Answer

Hi Donna- thanks for your email. Your wrote that you have two cats that had kittens - one has 4 kittens and the other cat had a stillborn kitten. The cat that lost her kittens was anxious and you put her with the other cat/kittens where she seemed kitten… .and you wonder if this is okay.

In answer to your question - it is not ideal but yes, okay.

In nature, many cats will nurse other cat's kittens and almost have a communal kitten care. It would be ideal to know that both adult cats are negative for two contagious viruses - feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). But if they are already together and she seems okay - then you may want to leave well enough alone. I'd recommend spaying them as soon as possible.

An article that might be helpful to you is Caring for Newborn Kittens.

Best of luck!

Doctor

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