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jonsblond's avatar

Is there anything I need to know about the development of a kitten with no littermates?

Asked by jonsblond (43916points) April 11th, 2018

Our cat had two kittens two weeks ago. The first kitten was stillborn leaving its littermate all alone.

Mother is very attentive and loving but I wonder if the kitten is missing out on anything important that littermates might provide.

Are there specific personality traits with only kittens? This is all new to me. I’ve cared for litters before but never just one.

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16 Answers

johnpowell's avatar

Mittens and Dobbs were adopted. Dobbs was a mature cat and Mittens (Dobbs daughter) was was adopted 24 hours after being old enough to be fixed. I got them both!!

Dobbs actually had five kittens and (abandoned in a box outside the shelter). Mittens was the runt.

So four kittens were adopted. Dobbs and the runt kitten were left behind. So I took them home and I love them to death.

But yeah.. The litterbox thing isn’t hard. They naturally go to it.

longgone's avatar

Littermates are hugely relevant for the development of frustration tolerance and habituation to touch. A single kitten gets touched so much less – and he doesn’t learn to deal with ignorant siblings wanting to play while he’s sleeping, pawing him while he’s eating or trampling around on his belly. Serious behavior issues are common in singleton kittens.

Kittens also need each other for play. Even if you or mom plays with the little one, no one would be as ruthless as a kitten. Play with other kittens is vital for the development of bite inhibition and of finesse in feline communication.

If I were you, I would get on the phone to local shelters and try to match your kitten up with another litter. Maybe your adult cat can save some abandoned kittens? Shelters, rescue organizations and breeders will understand.

This is about puppies, but interesting.

jonsblond's avatar

Thank you!

rojo's avatar

Charles Kittins

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
Two white kitties, too young to be taken from their mother, were unceremoniously dumped along side a winding red dirt country lane as that was what one did with life forms that mattered little.
But sometimes life takes the odd turn and things work out for the best. A kindly couple returning from their trip to town noticed the foundlings in the ditch along the road and stopped to investigate. They took the mewling pair in hand and placed them in the lap of the lady whilst the gentleman continued driving the horseless buggy toward the hollow in which they, along with a couple of children, assorted dogs, cats and chickens, spent their time among natures bounty.
Now this couple already had several cats, including two other small kittens, the offspring of their older tabby. They did not mind the extra mouths to feed and they knew it would only be for a while; country cats burn through all nine lives in short order.
But the day following the rescue of the homeless waifs, the sister of the man, along with her daughter, visited. The daughter, aside her two male cousins, were delighted with the tiny balls of fur and fury and whiled away the day in joyful rhapsody.
Come nightfall, the mother and daughter had to return to their own abode. The daughter let out a piercing wail, not unlike that of the banshee, and pleaded with her mother to let her take Starfire, as she had named the fluffier of the two kittens, home with her for all she had awaiting there were two dogs, one grown, one, Peta, just a pup, and Isis, an old, wizened, jet black cat with the piercing eyes of a siamese who had been her mothers kitten back in the long ago and whose days of playfulness were long past.
The mother relented and the three started for home leaving little Michael, the shorter haired of the two, to remain with his new litter mates and their mater, and their older kindred feline family.
Time passed, as time is wont to do, Michael, raised with other cats and kittens, grew into a beautifully adjusted companion for the older couple. He would come sit on their laps as they worked diligently at the computer. He would curl up next to the elder son as he sat engaged with his new Slate doing his ciphers and whip his tail playfully across the screen as if keeping time with the Beats in the background. Michaels days were spent chasing and being chased by the youngest child but his favorite time was nap time when he, the child and mother would curl up together on the bed purring contentedly.
Starfite, ah Starfire. She was a cat of a different mindset. Her life, while not lonely as there was always someone else there, was not the life of a kitten. Isis, the elder, wanted little to do with that little ball of energy, swatting her each time she had her tail attacked. Of the dogs, both were respectful, the older one reserved and the youngster a playtime companion. But, cats and dogs grow differently and soon the puppy towered above Starfire and while she still wanted to play, the size difference sometimes made playtime an ordeal for the kitten. She found herself avoiding Peta or, more likely, pouncing upon her from hiding and then running off laughing as that poor, dimwitted dog tried to first attain what had happened and thence chase the offending kitten under a nearby piece of furniture. Isis, poor Isis, became the object of her taunting. She knew she was faster, stronger and more cunning. Isis would not sit there and take it without reprisal but Starfire laughed at her feeble attempts to defend herself. Her people, the mother and daughter, loved to hold her, cuddle her and whisper in her ear what a wonder she was. At first, she enjoyed the attention and always came for more but as she grew, she grew more distant. Holding was to be done on her terms, and when she wanted to leave she would do so, usually leaving a bloody gash upon the offending human. Her mood soured. At times she would growl menacingly whenever someone or something got too close for her comfort. She would still sit in laps or on shoulders but the times were short and infrequent, preferring her own company. Many an evening was spent with her curled up at one end of the sofa and Isis at the other, usually in the lap of the mother.
And life goes on,
Michael eventually found himself the lone cat and had the family to himself. A mature, majestic white feline whose greatest joy came from interacting with his human family but he missed the other cats and when the family brought home another kitten from a neighboring homesteads brood, he lit up and became a kitten himself again.
Starfire (whose name had mysteriously evolved into “Shitfire” as the blood continued to flow) had grown too. She had wild uncontrollable hair, that matched her disposition, with the coloration pattern of a Burmese. She condescended to live in the home with the other four occupants and whiled away her days outside making life hell for the other neighborhood cats and her nights in solitary contemplation while occasionally spitting out invectives toward that moron Peta.
Two kittens, two very different paths.

jonsblond's avatar

This is kitty with mom. Our son has a very large room and kitten and mom are residing in the walk-in closet for now, away from our other pets. Our son has become very attached. As some of you know this has been a difficult time for our family. This situation is fulfilling some of the emotional needs our son is lacking. He is loving this right now. We hope to keep kitty if we can.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Welll…..spoiled rotten comes to mind.

LadyMarissa's avatar

Mom will know what to do & the wee one might like the extra attention. Personally, I’d be heading straight for my local animal shelter to find another kitten to adopt. You might get lucky & find an orphan kitten who needs a Mother’s touch & a sibling to drive crazy.

Another option might be to find a newborn puppy that is motherless. Cats & Dogs with newborns will accept pretty much any species that needs a momma. A puppy could be just as irritating as a kitten. They would still challenge each other

Two weeks is a pretty good time but not too long to even try it.

jonsblond's avatar

Update. Our kitten is now 10 months old. He is a sweet and very large cat. He’s so large we fat shame him. He’s 13 pounds! He wasn’t fully weened until he was 4 months old.

We have another cat in the home that’s a year older and we also have a 4 month old kitten. Everyone is happy and well behaved.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

If your kid (cat) is fat it’s your fault and you are part of the obesity problem. The cats don’t control how much they eat, you do. You’re stuffing food in their mouths for some weird reason.

jonsblond's avatar

Haha. Okay. He gets as much as the others and they aren’t fat. He nursed way longer than he needed to and he was the only kitten nursing. He’s just a big cat.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

OK. What ever

jonsblond's avatar

What’s with the attitude? Some cats are larger than others. I haven’t had a large cat since childhood. My bad if I made it appear he’s obese. It’s reasonable to assume a cat would be larger if it was the only kitten nursing.

We have 2 dogs and 3 cats. The only one who is larger than normal is the cat who was an only kitten. We don’t overfeed or feed scraps. All the others are normal size and they are all fed the same.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Mammals only produce as much milk as is demanded. So a single kitten would not demand the mom make as much milk as 8 kittens would.

jonsblond's avatar

He nursed longer than most kittens. As I said, we don’t overfeed. If we did they would all be fat. Your little rant was uncalled for. You have an odd fixation on overeating. We aren’t stuffing food in their mouths for some strange reason. What an odd comment.

jonsblond's avatar

*You have an odd fixation with overeating and food.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

My point was that one kitten wouldn’t necessarily eat more than if they had 7 litter mates. Mom makes just enough for 1 or 2 or 12 or whatever the demand is. It is biology.
Not sure how you read all that other into my observation.

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