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When I was younger I had this cat I called Queen Bee. I had to help my mom and dad move to different houses and I brought her with to my dad's house that had a couple barns, the house, a old tool shed, a hay shed, chicken coop and a large brush pile.

Queen gave birth to a litter of kittens two months before the snow of winter. I noticed that a week or two into the winter the old tool shed, that she had her kittens in and claimed as hers, had a several large fur nests in it that matched Queen's fur colors. I watched as she came in and curled up in one of the several nests and her kittens in the others and all of them had lost the tips of their ears to what I think was very bad frostbite. But what I'm confused about is that the tool shed was the warmest place on the property other than the house and the hay shed.

And also Queen was probably around 9 or 10 years old, so she would know better than to be outside in the cold long enough to get frostbite. And she had kittens litters before and they all were great well taught to be good cats.

So what happened to make her and her whole litter lose their ear tips to frostbite?

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There are a lot of factors that cats evaluate when selecting a nesting location: Concealment, noise level, proximity to predators / competitors, temperature etc. It is impossible to say which ones are more import to a particular cat.

I sometimes see queens (mother cats) making poor decisions when it comes to selecting a nest. Obviously they do not have an advanced methodical algorithm for selecting a nest and it is more of a subjective / intuitive decision. Queens will also abandon a nest if it becomes overly soiled or infested with parasites. This could have been a factor in her selecting a colder nest.

Another thing is that house cats are from very hot climates. They are not necessarily the best suited animals for cold weather. This may somewhat negatively impact their ability to select good nests in cold climates.

Feline kitten mortality rates are also very high in outdoor cats, partly due to the challenges of finding a good nest and partly due to disease and other factors like predators.

So to answer your question, Queen Bee did her best but she she couldn’t protect the little one’s tender ears, probably due to just bad luck.

It sounds like she kept her kittens alive though so she was ultimately successful in the end.

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