Cats often have a reputation for being independent and aloof, but when it comes to caring for infants they can show maternal instincts just as strong as many other species.
It’s common for owners to get female cats spayed to remove the reproductive organs and prevent pregnancy. This procedure doesn’t, however, remove all feline maternal instincts and these can still continue to be exhibited through their physical behaviour. In fact, research suggests that spaying has no impact at all on cats’ parenting instincts.
For current cat owners thinking of adding to their furry family, these instincts can often be highly beneficial in the acceptance of a new young kitten into the home. We know well that cats are very territorial creatures and can be fiercely protective, which can lead to difficulty getting along well with other adult cats. Therefore, many rely on these maternal urges when introducing a new kitten in the hope that they will view the infant as their own and care for them accordingly. There isn’t really any way to anticipate whether this will be the case, so the first stages upon meeting are vital, and will give you a clear idea of whether a maternal streak is likely to come through.
Just like humans, some cats have stronger maternal feelings than others and we often see cases reported of cats adopting other kittens and even other infant animal species as their own. Maternal behaviours exhibited by cats are both very caring and protective, and they are lovely to witness as a reminder of how sensitive felines really are. There can be many different displays, which include regularly checking on their ‘offspring’, petting and grooming, anxiously greeting and checking over them after any periods of separation, and defending them from other cats or animals.
Do you have any stories of your cat showing their maternal side? Perhaps they accepted a new addition to the home as their own, or even another younger animal species – if so, we’d love to hear them so please share with us below.