Overwhelmed New Kitten Mom

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Overwhelmed New Kitten Mom

Post by meowfurs2020 »

Hello all!

After spending 1+ years wanting to get a kitten, I decided just before the new year to do so. I adopted from an animal shelter here in the U.S. and I have loved every second of the past handful of days with my new kitty, but...but there are a few things I am struggling with.

From my readings and knowledge of some friends of mine who are also cat owners, it appears my kitten may be showing behavior (constant kneading) that she was taken from her mother too soon (her mother wasn’t at the shelter with her and they didn’t inform me of this information). I was completely unaware of this is the case.

My kitten appears overly attached to me. She is only 2 months old and wants to be with me all of the time. Lucky for her I’m working from home right now, but I am starting to become very overwhelmed. I love giving my kitten attention, but the constant desire she shows to get my attention makes me feel like I am suffocating, and if I don’t give her what she is asking for I feel like I’m neglecting her even though that’s not true at all.

My other issue kind of goes hand in hand. She sleeps in my bed and my anxiety refuses to let me fall asleep with her in my bed. She is so tiny. I have read multiple things about not worrying about your cat sleeping in your bed due to their alertness and that if you move on them, they will move, and despite this being the case, I can’t sleep. I have to move out to the couch and leave my kitten in my bed with the door closed, because if I move while she is sleeping and she wakes, she follows me to continue sleeping near me, and she often is persistent in sleeping on my chest right below my face preventing me from doing any activity.

I just feel very overwhelmed and am unsure of what to do. I have a crate/carrier but do not want to put her in it at night. I’m afraid of causing bad behavior in trying to adjust things but I also want to train at an optimal time which I feel is now since she is so young.

I’m just looking for support and advice and no judgment. Thank you. Xoxo.
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Re: Overwhelmed New Kitten Mom

Post by Mollycat »

It's ok no judgement here.

It can be a big life change taking on your first kitten, as you're finding out, but perhaps even more so from a shelter which isn't ideal conditions for kittens to start life. These days 12 weeks is recommended for kittens to leave their mother but please be assured in the old days we used to get them at 6 weeks, barely weaned, and I don't remember cats being traumatised.

My own thoughts, and people will come along with different ones, is please try to be confident and if you're happy for this kitten to sleep with you then be brave and start now. I see a problem with what you're doing now, giving her a cuddle in your bed then getting up leaving her and closing the door, and I think it could make her anxiety worse. She wants to be with you because you're the replacement for her mother and siblings, a warm living breathing thing with a heartbeat. Honestly, you won't roll over and squish her!

If you don't want to sleep with your cat, then you need to put her in the other room and get your bed back. Like, from tonight! But leaving the room and closing the door behind you, part from being no good for you, is teaching her nothing and is making her wake up (which she will, cats sleep a lot but not in 8 hour solid stints) and find herself alone without you, which will raise her anxiety as she knows you disappeared and can't come find you because the door is closed. That's how to make her more anxious, not more secure.

If you really can't have her in bed, how about having her sleep in the snug warm pet carrier right next to the bed where she can see, hear and smell you but you can't hurt her accidentally? You can put a ticking clock in it under her bedding to remind her of a heartbeat.

Giving attention when they need it early on sets up a close bond where they grow up trusting you will be there any time they need you. From there, they can safely grow up brave and confident and become more independent. It will also help you keep her safe as she is more likely to listen to you when you set boundaries to stop her venturing into potential danger, anything from a hot stove to the toilet bowl.
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Re: Overwhelmed New Kitten Mom

Post by fjm »

I adopted an adult cat who had been hand reared, and was overly dependent on human attention - she would launch herself into a lap while the human was still standing, and sent more cups of coffee (and glasses of wine) flying with sudden head butts than I can count. I managed it in the end by weaning her off attention in much the same way her mother would have done - just so much and that's your lot for now. With a new, very young kitten I would be less concerned - concentrate on building a close bond and developing the kitten's confidence in exploring her new home, and she is almost certain to become more independent as she gets older. At the moment you are her Mum, safe place and security blanket all rolled into one - enjoy the trust she is placing in you, but at the same time don't feel guilty at encouraging her to be a little more independent. A meal, a game, a cuddle and then a nap in a comfy place while you get on with your work is a good pattern to establish.

If she is sleeping in your bed and you are on the couch it rather defeats the purpose of co-sleeping. I have never had any problems letting very tiny kittens and puppies sleep on or in my bed - a bit of my brain is on the alert to wake me even if they don't wake up and move when I roll over. On one occasion when I was a child my Siamese dumped an entire litter of three week old kittens under the duvet with me and vanished through the bedroom window to spend the rest of the night hunting - we all slept remarkably well! But if your anxiety makes sleep impossible then give her a comfy bed, tray, food and water elsewhere and reclaim your bed - you need it far more than she does. An igloo type cat bed near your pillow might be a good compromise - she will still have your company but may stay put rather than wanting to climb all over you.
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Re: Overwhelmed New Kitten Mom

Post by Ruth B »

i'm only going to repeat what the others have said really. Now a days 12 weeks is more normal to rehome a kitten as it gives them extra time with their Mother and Siblings learning how to be a cat, as yours is only 8 weeks old, you will have to fill their rolls instead.

If you have ever seen videos of Mother cats and their kittens (there are quite a few on Youtube, even some that livestream 24/7, you will see that the mother cat will just get up and walk away from the kittens at times, she is teaching them that they don't always get what they want, which is something you will have to teach yours, and you shouldn't feel guilty about doing so, it will help build her confidence and make her more sure of herself.

I also agree that you need to claim you bed back before you start to resent her taking it from you, no matter how much you love her, lack of sleep will lead to resentment. Get her a nice comfy bed that can either go on your bed, or a raised one to go beside it, tire her out with a major play session just before bed time, let her have some supper so she is ready to settle and sleep (hunt, catch, eat, sleep is an instinctive routine in cats), then place an item of your clothing that you were wearing that day in the bed with her, it will help transfer the scent of you to the bed to make her feel safe in there. You might also want to invest in some type of heat pad if your bedroom is cold to really help her feel she is cuddling up to you when in her bed. At least, even on the bed, if she is in a bed of her own, you are less likely to worry about rolling over onto her.

As for the kneading, some cats will always do it. My current 6 year old lad, came from a shelter when he was 6 months old and they had him with his Mother until he was at least 12 weeks old, possibly she was still around when I got him but he was independent of her by then. He still likes to get on me and knead, I have a habit of keeping an old towel handy to put across my knee as he does have a habit of extending his claws while he does so, as long as yours realises that she can sit with you and knead to her hearts content while you let her and then accept when you decide session over I don't see any point in being worried about it.
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