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A stray cat gave birth next to our building a few weeks ago. We check in on her almost every day. She has been taking care of her kittens well, and us, as well as other neighbors have been leaving cat food and bowls of water around where she's nesting with her kittens. Right now, the kittens are about 4 weeks old, are just starting to meow and explore around their nesting area, not yet able to stroll too far.

Gradually, more and more stray cats have been drawn to the area due to the opulence of food and water. Some of them were always around, but more and more of them have been starting to show up. Right now, around the building, there are about a dozen cats, where before there were around 7 or 8.

Some nights, I hear intense cat fights occur outside. I can't tell if the mother or the kittens are involved somehow in the fights because the area isn't well lit at nights, but when I check on them in the morning, they all seem well and healthy.

My question is - could stray cats pose any danger to the mother or the kittens? We are meaning to adopt the kittens, but want to wait for them to ween from their mother, ideally at around 10 weeks. I realize that separating a kitten from its mother earlier than this increases the risk of health or behavioral damage, but if the kittens could be in danger, what would be the right course of action?

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    More stray cats means more fights because they fight with each other. With free food, there's no reason to pick a fight with the momma cat to get a kitten. And the food allows the mother to say with the kittens more rather than go off for long periods to hunt. So in balance I'd say don't worry about it. – Oldcat May 19 '15 at 18:35
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On balance I would say that feeding the mother decreases the overall risk to the kittens.

Probably, most of the fighting is due to stray cats fighting each other rather than the mother. The free food, while it might attract a stray cat, feeds him so that the need to hunt a kitten is less. Plus, the kitten is guarded by the mother, and the food is not. A smart stray will go for the sure thing.

The major advantage of the free food is that it allows the mother to get plenty of food near the kittens, so kittens are not left unprotected for long periods while she hunts for food. Therefore since the mother can protect the kittens more of the time, the kittens are safer with the free food than otherwise.

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