My cat is pregnant for the very first time.
My question: is it good for a cat to keep one of her own kittens (male or female?)
The rest of kitties will go to our friends' homes, and after this pregnancy we will spay her.
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If you can re-home all kittens, this is typically best. In nature, the mother cat naturally weans the kittens, teaching them how to hunt and bringing them half-alive prey to chase and kill. She starts separating herself slowly from the kittens to teach them to be independent.
Leaving the kitten with the mother until 8 weeks of age is the minimum. If you can, leave them with the mother until they are 12 weeks. The idea is - you want to leave them with the mother just long enough for the mother to teach them to use the litter pan and not to play too rough. This produces a well-socialized kitten. During the last 4 weeks, you will begin separating the kittens (a couple at a time) from the mother for an hour or two.
If the mother keeps a kitten, it will be difficult to wean that kitten, which can cause the mother to become exhausted and her glands to swell painfully. If you do re-home all kittens, remember to give the mother a new bed and wash or remove anything with the kittens' scent. If the mother smells the scent, she may continue to look for the kittens, causing her anxiety when she can't find them.
It seems logical to us to let the mom keep a kitten. However, in the cat world, the mom has done her job when all kittens are successfully independent from her. Then, she will be a proud mom!
This is an opinion only, but we adopted two kittens, a brother and sister. The sister died and the brother would meow for her for some time, looking for her.
A year later we adopted two stray kittens (brothers) and our existing cat fathered them and took care of them. They are all very close.
Animals form bonds and keeping one of the kittens might be a nice thing for the mother, as long as you get the kitten and mother neutered as soon as viable.
As for keeping a male or female kitten, I don't think it really matters. Over the years we've had every combination without difficulty. Again the key is desexing.