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I rescued a stray and got her spayed, come to find out right before surgery she had a litter. only one kitten survived, both her  and baby are fine, but now her milk looks like it is trapped under her skin. I'm pretty sure she's trying to wean or did wean baby. baby is 6-8 wks old

Hi Terra,

During weaning, it is common for the mammary area to become engorged with milk. This is because the kittens are eating less, but it takes time for the body to recognize this change and start producing less milk. So the usual amount of milk is produced, and rather than being consumed, it builds up. This causes swelling and tenderness. It can be very significant if a mother suddenly loses most of her kittens. Fortunately, it isn't usually harmful, and the body stops producing milk that isn't needed within a couple of days. Extra milk will be reabsorbed by the body.

There isn't anything you need to do for her. I recommend that you continue to allow her and her remaining kitten to work out the weaning. If the kitten is still nursing some, it can help relieve some of the pain and pressure she may be feeling in her mammary area. Cats will usually naturally wean their little ones when the kittens are 8-12 weeks old. This slow weaning process can help prevent such drastic mammary engorgement. But if the baby is fully weaned, just keep an eye on her for about 10 days. She should look and feel better by then.

Sometimes, cats can suffer a mammary infection, and this occurs more commonly during weaning. If you find that any of her nipple areas look purple or deep red, have a crusty or discolored discharge, are hot to the touch or are more swollen than the others, she should see a vet to determine if she has developed mastitis. Antibiotics will be necessary.

Once the kitten has not nursed at all (not once!), mom should stop producing milk. If she is still engorged 2-3 weeks after this, she should see a vet. Extremely rarely, a cat may need an injection to help stop lactation.

Good luck!


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The areas in which I have gained the most experience are cat health and feral cat management/rescue. I provide supportive care to chronically ill cats, hospice care to terminally ill cats and also am involved in trap-neuter-return efforts. My specialities lie in taming feral cats and in the allopathic treatment of cats with illnesses or special needs. I also have owned Siamese, Himalayans, Abyssinians, Russian Blues, Savannahs, Bengals, Peterbalds, Don Sphynx and Oriental Shorthairs and am well-versed in cat breeds as well as cat behavior and nutrition.


I have 15 years of extensive experience with cats ranging from breeding to medical care. My daily routine consists of caring for cats with diabetes, thyroid disease, kidney failure, feline leukemia, feline AIDS as well as feral cats. I have experience with liver patients, heart patients, feline infectious peritonitis, cancer, recovery from amputation and trauma, congenital deformities and most every disease in between. I have assisted cats giving birth and hand-nursed kittens who were neglected by their mother from 2 days old through weaning.

15 years' hands-on experience. Current nursing student. I've studied the parallels of human and cat anatomy as well as zoonotic disease, so my studies are broadening the depth of my understanding of feline anatomy, physiology and pathology.

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