Cats/normal weaning behavior in mother cat
In July I rescued a 3 year old mother cat and her 5 kittens (at the time they were 4 weeks old) who were abandoned by their owners when they moved. I originally kept them inside in my guest room, but eventually they were allowed the run of the entire upstairs. Three kittens have since found homes, and two remain here with the mother cat (one female kitten, one male kitten). Last week they were all spayed/neutered. Also last week (before being spayed) mama cat started growling and hissing at the kittens, her hair bristles, and she swipes at them with her claws. She is continuing this behavior and I am concerned for the kittens. Is this normal weaning behavior in cats? Could it be because she wants to get back outside? I am somewhat afraid to get between her the the kittens when she starts this behavior, but need to do something soon...before she hurts one of them.
yes this sounds normal behaviour. the mother cat is trying to teach the kittens not to rely on her for food etc any more. also in the wild the mother cat would chase the kittens off after a while because of the lack of territory. So it could be that she is feeling like there is not enough space for them all, especially if she was an outside cat before. You could try letting her out again or giving her more room in the house to wander. it is important that indoor cats have plenty of stimulation to stop them becoming bored and possibly aggressive.
the hissing could also have been caused because the kittens were moving into adulthood and their smell would have changed, this would have proved a threat to the female cat. hopefully since the spaying the hormone levels will drop and disappear and this threat will not be present.
I wouldn't try to get in between the cats when they start to spat, you will only get hurt. cats won't get into a big fight unless it is life and death so usually it is all show, which can look and sound rather horrendous but is often not as bad.
I hope all settles down for you all soon.
best wishes kate