There was a time when owners would part kittens from their mothers at 6 weeks of age and pack them off to new homes.
Thankfully this practice is now rare as it is realized how important it is for kittens to be nurtured by their mothers for much longer. But how long will mother cats tolerate their kittens staying with them?
Kittens can stay in the same home as their mother into adulthood. However, don’t expect her to behave like their mother forever. After it is fully weaned, the queen will gradually withdraw her mothering services and the kitten will become an independent cat.
Do mother cats get along with their grown-up kittens?
Once they are adults, kittens are just other cats as far as their mother is concerned. She will get along with them in the same way as she does with any other cats in a household.
If the mother is a naturally sociable and tolerant cat she will happily tolerate her own grown-up kittens but will not treat them as if they are her children.
Once her kittens reach 6 to 8 weeks of age, a cat will begin to distance herself from them. She may adopt a position on higher ground, and keep an eye on their antics.
Until they are about 16 weeks old, she’ll still be on hand if her kittens get into trouble or get too rough with each other, but she’ll limit other interaction with them.
They may try to bother her and she’ll probably swat them away. This behavior is quite usual for mother cats and is designed to develop the kittens’ independence.
Do kittens get along with their mother when they are adults?
If a kitten is raised in the same home as its mother, they will remain close. This bond means a kitten who never leaves its mother will still get along with her when it becomes an adult.
The most confident and well-adjusted kittens tend to be those who stay with their mothers until they are at least 13 weeks old. She will have more time to teach them to be confident, sociable adult cats.
Staying with their mother only serves to give kittens an even stronger chance of becoming well-adjusted adults. They will eventually become independent, albeit at a later age than if they left her at 13 weeks.
When kittens live with their mothers all their lives
There are generally no problems with this scenario. Occasionally people have reported that kittens will suckle for longer but they are generally fully weaned by 10 weeks.
A mother cat will usually refuse to sit still to allow a kitten the chance to suckle once it has passed 10 weeks of age so it is rare for a kitten beyond this age to keep trying.
If you notice a kitten beyond 10 weeks of age constantly trying to suckle, distract it with solid food or by playing with it, and it should soon lose the habit.
How do mother cats feel when their kittens leave?
Mother cats can seem sad or confused when their kittens are suddenly gone, especially if they all leave on the same day. Some wander around the house calling and searching for them.
Though we feel sad to see this happening, the mother stops after a day or two and is soon back to her pre-kitten self. Keeping one kitten from her litter can prevent this mourning.
Issues with mother cats and grown-up kittens
Most of the time, mother cats and their adult offspring will live together in perfect harmony. However, problems can arise if she has another litter.
At this point, she will simply see her older kittens as rivals for food, and even a threat to her new babies. She may become quite territorial and attempt to drive the grown kittens from the house.
It is also never a good idea to keep an intact male kitten around his mother. If you don’t have him neutered, you risk a chance of inbreeding, though his mother should instinctively rebuke any attempts of his to mate – and will be quite violent about this if necessary.
How do mother cats view their grown-up children?
Once they are adults, a mother cat feels the same way about her kittens as she does any other adult cat. They become seen and treated as any other household cats.
Two unrelated cats living under the same roof sometimes just tolerate each other and other times seem quite friendly. They share common areas such as eating places and litter boxes but often have what they consider their own areas in your home.
You may spot them cuddled up together some days and then acting quite indifferently and even spitefully to each other on other days. It all very much depends on each cat’s nature.
Even two related cats can behave in this way. Lots depend on the way the cats are socialized and on the fact that every cat has a unique personality.
A mother and kitten are well-bonded so after the memory of the familial relationship has faded away, the comfort and friendship of each other’s company usually lasts forever.
Even so, this depends on their personalities. Like any parent-child relationship, things can, unfortunately, turn sour, though this seldom happens with cats raised by a loving owner.
What feral cat colonies prove
Feral cat colonies are surprisingly common and often the subjects of studies by cat charities who run the trap, neuter, release (TNR) program.
It is often found that feral cat colonies are all female because, once they are old enough, the male kittens are driven away by their mothers.
Female kittens are allowed to remain but observations show that as soon as any female kittens become pregnant, they tend to view the other females in the group as rivals and infighting can result.
Can kittens stay with their mother forever? Conclusion
Many breeders and owners of cats who have kittens can’t resist the urge to keep one of the litter (or even more!)
As long as the mother has a tolerant nature and the kittens are well-socialized by their owner, mother and kitten(s) should live together happily forever after.