You’re excited about your cat having her kittens, and when the day arrives, you can’t help but keep checking on her to see if she is alright and to see the new kittens. But once they are born, you notice that your cat keeps moving one of her kittens despite your efforts of moving it back again. What is going on here?
A mother cat keeps moving one of her kittens because there is too much noise and distractions from where they were born. Or, the kitten might be too sick to be with the rest of the litter. Her nest may also be too dirty, and she wants to move her kittens to a cleaner nest.
If your cat keeps moving one of her kittens despite you moving it back, she could be telling you she doesn’t want it. Stay tuned to find out how you can stop this behavior and care for the rejected kitten.
Table of Contents
There Is Too Much Noise Where She Gave Birth
As any human mom who just gave birth will tell you, quiet is a must for recovery. A mama cat needs peace to take care of her babies, so she might be moving her kittens to a new area to get that quiet she desperately needs.
Your cat might have given birth near a thoroughfare in your home, and because of how much traffic the area gets, she might feel threatened and will want to move her kittens to a safe and quiet space. She will normally move one kitten to a new space but then wait to see if that is a good space before moving the rest of the kittens. In time, she will then move everyone else over to the new space.
Mama cats need time to bond with and care for their kittens right after birth, and if you’re constantly checking on them, your cat will be overwhelmed by your interruptions to the natural process. It’s more beneficial to your cat and her kittens to leave them alone besides giving her clean water and fresh food.
The Kitten Might Be Sick or Injured
Sometimes, a mother cat will move a sick or injured cat away from the rest of the litter because she cannot care for it properly and leave it to die, which is nature’s way of dealing with things. Many kittens born will not survive past twelve weeks, and if your cat suspects one won’t survive, she might be trying to save the rest of her litter.
If you keep moving it back, she will move it again and again, but if you want to save the kitten, you might want to separate it from the mama and begin caring for it yourself. To care for a kitten properly, you will need milk made, especially for kittens, and a proper feeding setup. Contact your vet to ensure you’re caring for the kitten correctly.
Cats can often sense illness sooner than humans can, and if you think your cat is rejecting one of its kittens, it might be because there is something wrong with it. Before you start caring for her kitten, please take it to the vet to rule out any illness.
The Litter Might Be Too Big, and She Can’t Feed Them All
Most litters are between three and five kittens, but some cats have litters up to 19! A mother cat might feel overwhelmed with how many kittens she has. Cats don’t have enough nipples to feed all of them, so the mama cat will need to move a few kittens to make room for the others. Typically, the kittens she moves are too small or sick to survive and are making priorities for the other kittens.
To humans, this practice might seem cruel, but in the animal kingdom, this practice is all about keeping the most resources available for those who will make it and survive.
Keep an eye on the kittens and your cat to make sure she isn’t rejecting any of them. You might need to care for one of the kittens, especially if it is a large litter. The first 24 hours after she gives birth is crucial for your cat as she will make the final decision of who to save and who to reject. If you notice one or two kittens not getting the care it needs, you might need to intervene.
It Might Be Instinct to Protect Her Kittens
In the wild, cats will move their kittens to a hidden and secure location to keep them safe from predators. This instinct didn’t go away just because your cat is domesticated. She might feel that her kittens are threatened and will move them, one at a time. If you try moving them back to the nest, mama might not be pleased with this and will move them back to her preferred location.
Mama cats also move their kittens to a new nest within three days to throw predators off their scent. A recent delivery tells predators that the mother is vulnerable and her babies will be easy to pick off.
While there might not be predators to indoor cats, they still have an instinctual need to protect her kittens. Mother aggression happens in many species, including cats and humans, so to avoid conflict, she moves them.
She Wants a Cleaner Nest for Her Babies
Even though you do the best you can to clean your cat’s nesting area after giving birth, your cat might move her kittens to a cleaner location once she cleans them after birth. She does this so that none of her kittens get infections or illnesses.
Also, since cats have stronger scent receptors in their noses, they can tell when something in their nest isn’t right. Mother cats will move their kittens when the nest smells “off.”
She Might Be Confused and Disoriented
Sometimes, mother cats can be disoriented or confused after giving birth and will move one of her kittens back and forth for a while. Labor and delivery are physically and mentally taxing on most mammals, including cats. A mother cat might have difficulty grasping the situation and will keep moving one of her kittens.
The only thing you can do is follow your cat closely and keep the kitten warm and cared for while disoriented.
How Can You Stop Your Cat From Moving Kittens?
There isn’t an effective way to stop your cat from moving her kittens aside from caring for them once she moves them. But you can save the kitten if you think your cat abandoned it. Here’s how you do that:
- Quietly keep an eye on the mom and mentally take note of where she drops the kitten.
- Once the mother cat leaves the area, take a blanket and put it under the kitten to keep it warm.
- If the mother cat is moving to a new nest, she will be back with other kittens. If she isn’t, take the kitten to the vet after you’ve determined she’s not coming back to it to rule out any illnesses.
Mother cats move their offspring for many reasons, and it could be that she needs a rest from too many lives depending on her. But there are times when she doesn’t want to care for one of her kittens and place it somewhere away from the nest.
In these situations, you will need to monitor the situation closely. If the kitten is too small or sick to survive, the mother separates it from the litter to provide more attention to the healthier kittens. Take the kitten to the vet to rule out illnesses and learn how to care for them.
- Animal Path: Why Does Mother Cat Move Only One Kitten
- Pet Place: Why Does My Cat That Just Had Kittens Keeps Pulling One Kitten Out of the Nest?
- Upgrade Your Cat: Why Does Mother Cat Move Only One Kitten?
- Catty Box: Why Does Mother Cat Move Only One Kitten: Potential Motivations
- Cat Problems Advice: Mother Cat Behavior – Moving Kittens
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.