Ask the Veterinarian/Young male, female and newborn kits
I have a stray male and a female cat that moved into my garage about 3-4 months back. The male is young, we've watched him mature (he's still very playful) I'm estimating that he's about 8 months old - his "TOM" features have not developed. He's not marking anything, he get's what I call the "tail wiggle" when he's excited, but nothing comes out. He's pleasant little cat, but skittish around humans...he comes within a reasonable distance, will play with me, but he does not like to be touched. He even "twitters" at me when I'm feeding them. He recently caught one of our resident chipmunks and killed it - didn't eat it, but played with it like a toy until I took it away from him. The female is a lovely calico, very good natured. I'm guessing that she's a bit older than he is as she has been in heat a few times since she's been in the garage. Well....we have another male cat that used to hang around with them when they first moved into the garage, but he chose not to stay...he comes to the door and eats then leaves. At some point or another, the other male serviced the female and voila - we now have kittens as of yesterday morning. SEVEN of them to be exact.
My concern is the young male. I've heard so many different stories about males hurting, killing or eating kittens, that I'm not sure what to do. My vet said to separate them (didn't tell me why). My mother's vet told me that he won't harm the kits, but he might get aggressive with the female and get her pregnant again and that THAT is why they should be separated. THEN I get input from a friend that is a cat breeder, that says no, they won't harm them.
I'm horribly confused and unsure of what to do. Believe it or not, the kittens are all spoken for and have homes waiting for them!
I don't want to move them unless I have to...I could potentially bring them into my husband's workbench area attached to the garage, but, I know that moving them stresses them and the female out. Again...I'm at a loss.
Any direction would be appreciated!
ANSWER: The young male isn't the concern here, but the other tom cat. He should be caught and neutered as soon as possible as well as the younger male.
But the younger male won't hurt the kittens,it's the older male that could potentially hurt/kill them.
This kind of behavior is the norm for a pride of lions- when one male takes over a harem of females he will kill all the cubs then breed the females so as to only have his line live on.
However, cats are NOT lions and while this might happen in real feral cat populations it is pretty uncommon among fairly domesticated cats. But the one vet is right- the older male will rough her up and get her pregnant again!
The fact that he eats and leaves shows that he is still feral but tolerates humans. If she is inside and somewhat away from him all should be well. It wouldn't hurt them or the mom if you could move them into a more protected area but make sure she can come and go as she needs to.
The younger male will just treat them as cousins and play with them. He could be one of her kittens. She also needs to be spayed as soon as these kittens are weaned because she WILL get pregnant again when the kittens are just three to four weeks old. So another good reason to separate her.
While she is rearing kittens the boys can get neutered and then it can be her turn! I am so glad you have the kittens spoken for. You might want to vaccinate them at 6 weeks old and then charge people $10 for the kitten. My ex-boss said that people willing to pay $10 for a kitten will take much better care of it for life then someone that gets one free. It's just human nature, sad but true!
So don't be shy about asking the $10 after they are vaccinated once. So get her moved into the work area and leave it so that she can get in and out unless she has a litter box, food and water in there.
Kittens are fun but a worry so keep an eye on the temperature out there etc.
Send photos! :-)
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank you for the response...I appreciate it a lot. It puts my mind more at ease. They are presently in my garage, in the back seat of my husband's Camaro (he's rebuilding it) - That is where she gave birth. The Tom does not have access to the garage, the door is closed to keep the bad weather out. We're getting snow at the moment. Which brings me to this question...how cold is too cold for them? The garage is cold, but safe from the outside cold, snow/rain and wind. They (Momma and the young male) have a "box" they sleep in with fleece blankets and such, but she chose the back seat of the Camaro instead! She is in with them a majority of the time, unless she comes out to eat and use the litter box which we keep in there for her. I check on them intermittently (while she is eating - so as not to disturb her).
Attached is a picture of the kits...this was taken yesterday afternoon.
Oh MY I WANT THEM ALL!! They are just so darn sweet!! Well let me ask you this, when you check on them, how cold does it feel in the box to you? Is it possible to set up a little heating pad under some towels under the blankets so that it's just a steady heat?
That way when she leaves to eat they will stay warm no matter what. What's really funny is that I had a half-wild mmama cat have three babies in the trunk of my 68 Firebird that I sorrowfully had to part out because my then-hubby blew out the engine. Cats know how to have kittens in style don't they?
If you could put a heating pad in there it would really be helpful. Mama is beautiful!! I love calicos. She looks like a seasoned mama and she was purring up a storm when you took that picture of her and the babies.
I would be concerned because of the weather outside unless the garage is really well insulated. It's safer to place it under towels and the blanket then to have it too close to them. Set on low, under towels and blankets, lets it emit a steady heat (check it frequently however!) but you must be careful because they CAN catch on fire. The safest thing is a gel-like pad that you microwave and it stays warm, but not hot, for up to 12 hours.
Those can be found at pet supply stores or on Amazon.
not too expensive and reusable for years.
I hope this helps. They look nice and healthy and they keep each other warm, so really they would probably be just fine. Make sure she has some GOOD quality kitten food to eat freely- but not Purina Kitten Chow as it has cows milk which gives them diarrhea. She needs to be free-fed. The best food to get her is Science Diet Kitten Growth. She will have very good milk and then you can wean them onto it.
Have fun! So cute!!