Brief synopsis:
Apartment Complex with no-pet clause. Unspayed stray female lives in courtyard. Circa Sept. 20: 5 kittens. My patio.
My wife and I have since fed & made friends with mom (who's obviously a dumped former pet) and have partially weaned & socialized the kittens. Yesterday morning, by arrangement, they were picked up by a local volunteer rescue/adoption facilitator. I waited about as long as I dared as of last week they were outgrowing the barricades on our patio (which has a half-height wall/fence) and the apt. managers had noticed them.

The problem is that mom is now inconsolable. She does little else but wander around our patio and underneath our windows (& neighbors') "talking" to and crying for her kittens. Apart from making her very conspicuous (which very likely endangers her "tolerated" status here, not to mention our own!) it's just killing us on a personal level. Even though it was for the best, we feel as though we've betrayed them.

Since this kind of thing is unfortunately routine, I figure someone must have figured out a few tricks for helping calm/distract mother cats after a traumatic separation like this. My wife bought her 3 small stuffed bears, but she doesn't react to them. Will catnip toys help? How long before the maternal instinct fades, generally?

We need to get her patched up for next week's violation of trust: the local spay clinic.
Adam Cole
Brief synopsis: Apartment Complex with no-pet clause. Unspayed stray female lives in courtyard. Circa Sept. 20: 5 kittens. My patio. ... generally? We need to get her patched up for next week's violation of trust: the local spay clinic. Adam Cole

How about some fuzzy warm toys? Poor momma. I hope that you can keep her. She would be good inside. Offer an extra deposit. I've done that and been accepted.
Karen
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I think it will last several days to a week. I know, it's very sad. Can you bring her in until the spay so she won't be so conspicuous? She may go into heat again by then, too, as having the kittens gone can be a "trigger," I think, and then she may be even louder. Are you going to keep her as your kitty? That would be nice to make her an indoor cat now. You are doing very good things for her and her babies but it would be really nice if she wound up with a safe, loving home, too. Plus, if you brought her in now, at least her crying would not disturb other neighbors and you would be able to pamper her and try to console her with yummy treats, petting, etc.

Candace
(take the litter out before replying by e-mail)
See my cats:

"One does not meet oneself until one catches the reflection from an eye other than human." (Loren Eisely)