How Long Does It Take For A Mother Cat To Forget Her Kittens?

How Long Does It Take For A Mother Cat To Forget Her Kittens

Cats are devoted mothers and very protective of their kittens. They take good care of them from birth up to the time that they wean them. However, once the kittens are weaned, mother cats start to detach themselves from their litter. Some cat owners may decide to give up the kittens for adoption, while others may keep some of them at home. 

How long does it take for a mother cat to forget her kittens?

It usually takes around 10 to 12 weeks from giving birth for a mother cat to forget her kittens. But this does not entirely mean that a mother will have no recollection of her young.  This particular period is when the kittens have completed their weaning stage and are old enough to be independent.  The bond between mother and kittens becomes weaker at this time, which could be why mother cats tend to forget the kittens more easily. 

Mother cats start weaning their young when the babies are about four weeks old. The process is completed when they are around three months old. At this time, the kittens are ready to find new homes and can survive without their mother.

Mother cats that spend more time with their kittens tend to adjust easier when the kittens are finally separated from them. If the kittens are taken away before the weaning period is complete, it can trigger separation anxiety and take longer for a mother cat to recover. 

Upon the completion of the weaning process, mother cats start to resent the presence of the kittens and may growl at them if they are kept with them way past the weaning stage. 

Once the kittens are taken away, a mother cat may behave queerly and will try to look for the kittens by yowling loudly. But this behavior will only last for a few days. The mother cat will eventually recover and resume her normal routine. However, if the kittens are taken away before the completion of the weaning stage, a mother cat may behave differently for a long time before she can eventually recover. 

It is interesting to note that when kittens are separated from their mother, the mother cat will eventually forget or not recognize them.  Upon leaving the nest, kittens pick up the scents of their new environment.  If the mother cat sees the kittens after several weeks, she will see them as strangers since cats depend on scents in recognizing each other. 

How do you know if a mother cat is missing their kittens?

You will know that a mother cat is missing her kittens by the way she behaves and acts during the first few days of the kittens’ absence. Cat experts note that mother cats rarely display a deep sense of grief once they are separated from their kittens. However, there are behavioral changes in the first few days which are believed to be symptoms of grief. 

Mother cats will search for the kittens around the house and yowl, hoping to get a response from the kittens. Some of them may experience irregular sleeping and eating patterns, while other mother cats undergo personality changes. This is often observed when the kittens are taken away before the weaning stage is completed. 

What happens when a kitten is removed from the mother cat too soon?

If a kitten is removed from a mother cat too soon, it is more likely to be sick since it was not able to get all the essential nutrients from its mother’s milk. It will also be more likely to have behavioral issues and will have difficulty adjusting to a new environment. Kittens learn the basic need of survival from their mother. A kitten removed too soon from its mother will also most likely suffer anxiety issues. 

What are the reasons a mother cat might abandon or reject her kittens?

  • There are too many kittens and there is not enough milk for them. 
  • It could be due to premature motherhood. 
  • She cannot nurse the kittens because she has mastitis, an infection of the mammary gland. 
  • She may reject a kitten that is sick or deformed. 
  • If a kitten wanders away and leaves the nest, the mother may not recognize it if it returns.


Mother cats take good care of their kittens, but after the weaning stage, they will tend to forget about them since the bond between mother and kittens will weaken.  At around 10 to 12 weeks, the mother cat will most likely resent the kittens since at this time they are ready to be independent and on their own. 

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