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Q&A: Will My Cat's Aggression Stop Once Her Kittens Grow Up?

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Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He works with dogs, cats, exotics, and livestock.

There are several things you can try to reduce maternal aggression in cats.

There are several things you can try to reduce maternal aggression in cats.

Will My Cat Stop Being Aggressive When Her Kittens Are Gone and She's Spayed?

I have two 3-year-old spayed female cats I got from our local shelter. I recently found a stray female and took her home. A few days later, I took her to the vet for a physical and shots. To my shock, she was three weeks pregnant. There are now five kittens in our household who are almost 6 weeks old. I have homes lined up for them, but the mom cat is so aggressive to my two original cats.

My two originals are terrified. From the start, I introduced them very slowly. The mom cat was kept in a separate bedroom which has been transformed into a cat nursery, but I let her out of the bedroom when I am home. I've had multiple cats for over 30 years and never had problems like this. I've always been able to work things out.

When she was pregnant, I thought the aggression was due to hormones, but it hasn't gotten any better. One of my original cats is now on anti-anxiety meds, and yesterday, I noticed her fur is starting to come out in "globs." Otherwise, mom cat is so friendly to all humans, is very sweet, and a great mom, but she hates my cats.

I have never re-homed any animal. Mom cat has already had a hard life, so the thought of making it harder upsets me. But it's not fair to my original cats either. I already have Feliway in every plug in my house that doesn't have a light fixture plug in it. Will mom cat settle down after her babies are gone and she is spayed?" —Jackie

Maternal Behavior Problems in Cats

That sounds like normal maternal behavior, but it is difficult to say for sure if it will go away. Some animals will rearrange their ranking when the young are born and when no longer around, they will still follow their new behavioral patterns.

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Separate Your Cats

Keeping the cats in separate areas during this period helps a lot, which you already did. I realize this is not easy in an apartment, but at times it needs to be done.

Have Your Cat Spayed ASAP

Talk to your veterinarian about having her spayed now, which may help. Since the kittens are already 6 weeks old, you shouldn't have any issues spaying mom cat.

Talk to Your Vet About Medication

Besides trying to separate the cats, some medications might help change this behavior (like diazepam or Prozac), but your kittens would have to be weaned first, and sometimes a kitten that is weaned too early can become very aggressive with age. (1) Since the kittens are older, this is probably not an issue.

If she is still aggressive after the kittens are gone and she has been spayed, you can try one of these medications and see how she does.

Exhaust All Options Before Considering Rehoming

I certainly would not worry about rehoming the cat yet. There are still a lot of things to try! Be sure to let us know if we can be of any more help.

Sources

  1. Ahola MK, Vapalahti K, Lohi H. Early weaning increases aggression and stereotypic behaviour in cats. Sci Rep. 2017 Sep 4;7(1):10412. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5583233/

This article is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from your veterinarian. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2022 Dr Mark

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