by Donna Greiner
(Riverside NJ)

Hello cat family(he's),

Can a momma cat be heartbroken when she is trapped, taken to shelter to be spayed....ultimately being taken from her litter???

My neighbor did not like the neighborhood cats doing their "business" in her garden...hence setting up a trap and catching one of the females I have been feeding for one year +. I love her so much, a gorgeous gentle calico I named ----. I never knew where she birthed her kits, UNTIL after animal control took poor terrified momma away. I went to claim her at shelter, BUT they would not let me take her due to complaint filed by neighbor. Long story short, I found the 4 adorable kittens she had, and am caring for them in my home. After jumping through all of their red tape hoops, I have the mom back, formally adopted her, BUT....She does not seem "right". She is laying in her litter box, only ate a small bit of her favorite food YESTERDAY, drank water, urinated...slept all night.

She has lived outside on my property since last April, will come in to eat, but goes BONKERS when I offered her shelter in cold weather....I'm sure having rescued ferals yourself, you understand. Now I have been commanded to keep her in.

I feel she has been through a traumatic experience....Please give any suggestions or tips, opinions, etc...I appreciate it so very much, as always. I had her sister spayed in November, she did not behave like this, then again, was not a mommy.

Very truly yours

Donna Greiner
Riverside NJ


Donna, I empathize with your situation...and commend you for rescuing her kittens. While its wonderful that these kittens and their mother will have a safer life, be prepared for a long road of some failure and finally successes with the mother cat.

Remember that she has only known a life of freedom and the outdoors. She survived through bad weather and probably many times with little food or warmth. So, yes, she is depressed and will be that way for some time, I'm guessing months.

However, the bright side is that with constant love and attention she will slowly leave her depression behind and start to welcome the safety you offer her.

One thing I've found that has helped me with the cats that arrived feral is having a terrace to allow them to access the outdoors but not the dangers of being truly free. If you can enclose a balcony or have a spot in your yard to place an enclosure that contains them, it does help them with the adjustment of losing their freedom.

Here is the link to an article on this topic:

House Cats Outside

Again, it is a wonderful thing you are doing to help these little critters, and I wish you a lot of success.


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Oct 01, 2015
Making Mama happy
by: joyfulsunrise

This must be difficult for you ~ She is obviously stressed from all of that moving around and I am sure animals have hormonal things going on with birthing and the natural protection of babies instinct.I agree with creating some semblance of 'outdoors' as has been suggested.There is a large collapsible dome made out of fencing that I have seen. It is to be placed in yard / porch / folds flat but open it is quite large. I have also seen online a series of put together units for cats to be outdoors.......long circular tubes connected to square -ish units....the kitty can roam through the units high and low...a high place in front of a window may help as well. Bird feeders out side of the window may be delightful
for her....let us know please what actually works for you and kitty. Wishing you well with a solution ...don't forget boxes on the floor as a diversion as well hide in ..just for comfort and a Soft furry folded or crumpled blanket near where you sleep so she will be comfortable with you. A baby blanket from Good Will may work.... for her to feel settled...Good luck !

Jun 20, 2015
by: author of original

I appreciate your helpful tips! Having quite a bit of experience with ferals I decided right off the bat that it would not be wise to put mother with babies, especially after having what is considered a major surgery for the mom, (spaying). I have been feeding kitten milk replacer (formula), using kitten nursing bottles, syringes, and in the beginning, eyedroppers, which is all they would nurse from at first. I am very proud of myself, they have doubled their size in 4 weeks, and are extremely active as I provide stimulation with various toys, and lots of touching, I wash them with cottonballs and Johnson baby shampoo, using very little. They were real escape artists, I have 3 different enclosures I use, one specifically for bedtime at night so that they know it's time for sleep. I learned from the first 2 feral kittens I took inside (now both my INSIDE pets), that they love classical music played, it calms them...and I love it too! Mother Cat is best for caring for their young, but the way the neighbors trapped her, it was impossible. Thank the good Lord that she placed her kits in one of the cat cubes I keep on my front porch for "community" cats to keep warm or rest in. I am very exhausted, as I find this harder than caring for a human infant! I have been sleep deprived with the 3-4 hour feeding schedule. Although I'm not old, I don't consider 61 as a spring chicken, either! Thanks for your kind words regarding my kindness. I believe all life is sacred, and these wonderful kittens have added joy to my life.

I have a very painful disc problem compressing nerves in my spine, and spinal stenosis, and I actually think caring for the kittens has been like a kind of physical therapy, I've been forced to walk more.

A VERY important thing I learned about young kittens is that they must have their "privates" washed off before and after feeding, they can actually die without this, it stimulates normal elimination in them. Had this not been on the kitten formula replacer container, I would not have known! A representative from the NJ Animal League also advised me of this. Very IMPORTANT!!! I now know why mom cat does all that washing and grooming!

Sorry for rambling, again, thank you for commenting on my question. I love this website, it is a wealth of knowledge about cats! Hoping to hear from you again.

Jun 19, 2015
One more thing re. Mother and Kittens
by: joyfulsunrise

A neighbor rescued a mother and 3 kittens and brought them into her home....fortunately she had space to separate the kittens ...from the mother because once indoors the mother rejected the kittens somewhat violently so they were kept separate and the neighbor trained the kittens to feed from a saucer...I do not know of other feeding possibilities....but they had to be separate...I hope your mother cat will eventually bond with her kittens ...making her comfortable once again...

All in all from what I have read of the article and the happenings in the cats' lives.....there must be a solution ..I think the thought of you finding are too kind to suffer as well...
Good Luck with all attempts...

Jun 19, 2015
Help with Feral
by: joyfulsunrise

Sadness when reading post turned to relief as you were able to adopt her ! Agree with the answer and good advice with balcony or some form of outdoor view...a window bench / window with open screen / one feral I had calmed with that finally but another feral just clawed to go it will be experimental what ever you do...

I would have a few 'hides' under things but comfortable...when you place food play or sing a certain calm melody...always the same close enough to her to hear it....or ring a bell...gently ..something like that and call her name....anything that repeats...but very gently...if she fought and scratched at the shelter she may have been subdued aggressively...this is not a blame...just saying it may be natural for a human to rough it a bit if attacked....
the whole ordeal for her has been traumatic...try special treats...Wellness makes a treat that all cats I know just love and ingredients are great...called...Wellness Kittles / tasty crunchy with a few flavors....may sprinkle on food.,,my cats smell and hear the bag and they get you could make the crunch of the bag a ritual...just saying...calm and repetitive...with kitty grass to munch on...please keep us posted ..I feel your frustration from experience so sending love and patience to you...

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