Are Some Cat Mothers Better Than Others?
You are partly correct. Barring illness or tragedy, all cat moms will do the basics. According to the East Bay SPCA in California, kittens remain close to their mothers, nursing with their eyes closed, during their first few weeks of life. Mothers will often move their kittens around, grabbing them by the scruff of the neck for everyone’s safety. At this stage, the kittens cannot fend for themselves, so they continue to nurse for another two weeks until they begin to nibble at other food at the age of about 4 weeks.
Mother cats will also clean and otherwise groom their charges for yet another couple of weeks. One theory about why cats purr says that cat families make this comforting noise/vibration when they are touching but can’t directly see each other. Mother cats, for example, can feel the vibrations of their nursing kittens, letting her know all is OK.
I have noticed tremendous differences in the ways that mother cats deal with their charges four weeks after giving birth. Some seem to cherish their families, doting over each and every kitten and seeming to struggle with the partings. Others, like one of my neighbor’s cats, seem relieved and in a hurry to ditch the motherhood duties.
I’ll never forget the look on my neighbor’s cat’s face as she happily deposited all of her kittens in my garden. “Here you go!” she seemed to communicate. “They are all yours and I’m outta here to have some fun!”Her kittens turned out just fine. They were spayed and neutered, but I bet their own independent streaks would have otherwise had them following mother’s lead. As for mom, I wound up with her too after my elderly neighbors passed away. She was also spayed and lived a long, healthy and happy life.