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.


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!

  • 1
    I've kept one kitten from the 2 females I've had and I have not experienced these type of problems. First "set" grew old together, no problems, and they would always protect eachother(even from other cats) Now with current mom/kitten we haven't had any issues either, both females and both are spayed. I guess we were lucky.
    – Just Do It
    Oct 26 '15 at 17:11
  • I definitely think keeping siblings together is a good idea (unless one is extremely dominate over many things). I'm so glad you've had good experiences keeping mother and child together. Thank you for helping these kitties and for getting them spayed. Spaying the mother may have also contributed to your success in keeping them together without problems. Best wishes for a happy cat family! Oct 26 '15 at 17:56
  • First mother was never spayed, but then again she only had one litter per year. Son would also protect her from unwanted male visitors(and stinky pee problems) And we never had issues. With current mom(since we've experienced that she gets pregnant while finishing weaning current litter), we saw she got moody and would "push" current kittens away. But this behavior would only happen during pregnancy, (we have one male cat from the first litter of current mom, and as soon she has the litter, she starts to accept him again and even bathe him like if it was still a kitten lol)
    – Just Do It
    Oct 26 '15 at 18:19
  • I'm so glad I found this question because I'm also considering keeping one of our kittens. I read that the mother cat can be restricted food and water for a few days to prevent engorgement of her mammary glands. animalhumanesociety.org/health/… Jun 4 '20 at 12:35

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.

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