My cat (who was feral at first but is now a “skittish” pet) had 4 kittens. She has them sheltered but not completely hid. Around 3 weeks of age she let me touch them with no hissing or growling. She would just lay over on her side and purr while I touched/ held/ socialized them. Suddenly out of nowhere she has started hissing at me, even when I wasn’t near the kittens.

She eats on our porch and she comes to the door and meows when she’s hungry. I opened the door and she hissed at me. While I was feeding her treats and petting her, she suddenly jumped back and popped my hand (breaking the skin) and hissed at me again.

She has since then stopped hissing at me but I haven’t tried touching the kittens because I feel like she isn’t OK with it anymore. The kittens are 5 weeks old now, and she keeps them pushed back in a corner and isn’t letting them walk around. If one starts walking towards me, or even in a different direction, she pulls them back. They’re 5 weeks old and can barely walk. They’re up off the ground in a junk shed and I knew one would fall off ... today one did.

I think she’s hurt but I couldn’t get to her so I left her alone to let mom finish eating on the porch and to return to help her. It’s like she’s not letting them grow up any. I want to let nature take its course, but I feel like they’re going to live in there forever never learning cat things. They still crawl completely on their bellies.


1 Answer 1


It is a good sign she's not abandoning her kittens, and she must be nursing them if they're still alive. They are perhaps a slower developing group of kittens.

It's odd that she is suddenly being protective of them, but her feral nature likely plays into this. Her wild instincts kicked in and she has to protect the kittens at all costs. She may have even already had litter(s) if you don't know her age or her origin.

THIS article states that a cat may develop post-partum symptoms, around the 2 or 3 week stage, right when your cat started getting protective. The same article recommends some things you should be sure you are doing for the mother:

  • Is the shed they are kept in warm? If not, that could be why she has kept them shoved in a corner, in an attempt to keep them warm. Heat lamps are good solutions for outdoor sheds, and not very costly.
  • You mention she has to come ask for food, therefore needing to leave her kittens. Instead, you should put her food and water in the shed with her, so she doesn't have to leave her litter.
  • Consider gloving up (to prevent injury to you) and checking the mother or kittens for any symptoms described in the article and call a vet if you are concerned. Otherwise, leave her be for a while, to settle with her kittens and feel safe.

Afterwards, I would recommend getting her spayed to prevent any more ordeals like this, especially if she is not a great mother. (There are so many unwanted cats and kittens that should be adopted first!)

Best of luck to you, your momma cat, and her kittens. I hope all goes safely and the worrying is for naught and that they just need a little extra time.

  • 2
    She is getting spayed after this litter. She comes to me when I walk in to the shed and towards her area. Hard to explain how she has them. It’s like a hand made table on top of a counter. There is particle board sheets laying up against it so it’s pretty much enclosed. And I don’t leave her food in there Bc Stray cats always comes to her bowl/food after about 30 mins( even if she ate it all and they’re Tom cats. So I don’t want to lure them literally to her “nest” that’s not where she originally had them at and the Tom cats stayed at her so she hid them.
    – Kaitlyn
    Commented Mar 11, 2019 at 21:14
  • Is there any way you can block out the shed? (block doors, windows, etc.) I'd agree though, you wouldn't want more cats near her. That would be worse.
    – Gwendolyn
    Commented Mar 11, 2019 at 22:05
  • Only way o could block it was to shut the door completely. She wouldn’t be able to get out at all. It’s a cement floor. She she doesn’t use a little box. She never caught on. I guess Bc of her being feral. She had at least one litter Bc when I got her up she had one kitten. They hid for days I trapped her and the kitten and brought her to my house to keep her from being killed. Her kitten was the only one around for days and days. And she was already almost completely weaned. So she isn’t too too young. She’s a sweet cat one min and will let you pet her. 5 seconds later she hisses and runs off
    – Kaitlyn
    Commented Mar 12, 2019 at 4:59
  • 1
    It sounds like you're creating the best environment that you can for her. Put blankets/pillows down on the cement floor if you're worried about kittens falling. I don't know a lot about cat psychology, but it's possible she remembers a traumatic experience with her previous litter (seeing that you found her with only had 1 kitten). It's likely best to leave her be for now. You could check to see if you have a local vet who makes house calls, but I think giving her a few more weeks to care for the kittens on her own would be fine.
    – Gwendolyn
    Commented Mar 12, 2019 at 19:23

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