Understanding that your beloved cat is on the brink of bringing into the world a litter of adorable little kittens can indeed be a thrilling period. However, after the joyous event of their birth, the responsibilities as a cat owner multiply exponentially. One of the curious behaviors you may observe is your feline mother moving her kittens away from their original nest area. This can occur for a multitude of reasons. Fortunately, there exist several techniques to dissuade your cat from shifting her kittens around!
The Roots of Feline Maternal Behavior: Why Do Mother Cats Move Their Kittens?
Despite our domesticated felines living comfortably within our homes, they still possess instincts deeply rooted in their past wild existence. Mother cats relocate their kittens for several reasons, some of which include:
- Overwhelming noise around the nesting area.
- Excessive brightness in the vicinity of the nest.
- One kitten in the litter is sick, prompting the mother to isolate it.
- Inordinate human interaction with the kittens.
- The mother cat senses a threat.
- The nest area has become unclean.
How To Stop Cats From Moving Their Kittens?
In the event that your cat begins to move her kittens to a less suitable location, there are certain steps you can take to encourage her to maintain the nest and her kittens in their current place. Depending on the situation, one or a combination of methods might be necessary.
Minimize Handling of the Kittens
The arrival of newborn kittens in the household naturally sparks great enthusiasm. However, it is critical to curb the temptation of constantly picking them up for cuddles. The mother cat is perfectly equipped to care for her offspring, requiring only a clean nest, access to food, water, and her litter tray.
Incessant human contact, especially when multiple people take turns to hold the kittens, can cause the mother cat to feel threatened. As a consequence, her scent on the kittens may diminish, leading to potential confusion. In such instances, she might choose to move the kittens to a quieter, less disturbed spot.
Keeping human interaction minimal until the kittens reach about 4 weeks of age is advised. Limit visitors until the kittens are roughly 8 weeks old. As the kittens start venturing around and exploring their surroundings, the mother cat will gradually relax and become more accepting of human interaction with her brood.
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Maintain a Tranquil Environment for the Nest
Upon discovering that your cat is pregnant, it’s advisable to start considering potential locations for her nest. Ideally, cats prefer a peaceful place with dim lighting and minimal human traffic. While your cat will eventually find a spot on her own, it might not necessarily be suitable. You can attempt to guide her towards an area that aligns with her preferences and allows you to monitor her and her kittens discretely.
If the cat has chosen an unfavorable location for her nest but insists on keeping it there, strive to maintain the vicinity as serene and composed as possible. Prevent other pets from accessing the nest area, and you could even construct a frame or place the nest inside a sizeable crate. Draping blankets over the structure can offer additional privacy and warmth.
Monitor the Health of the Mother Cat and Kittens
At times, a mother cat may relocate a single kitten from the nest if she suspects it to be ill. If you observe such behavior, it’s wise to consult with your vet for advice. They might conduct an initial telephonic consultation or request an in-person examination of the mother cat and her kittens.
Mother cats can suffer from a range of health complications, any of which might provoke her to move her kittens. Conditions like mastitis, hypocalcemia, and uterine metritis are some examples. Each of these will necessitate immediate veterinary intervention and potentially alternate care arrangements for the kittens during the mother’s recovery period.
Ensure Optimal Warmth in the Nest
Newborn kittens cannot regulate their body temperature, thus requiring external help to maintain warmth during the first few weeks of life. If the mother cat perceives drafts in the area of the nest, she may shift it to a cozier spot. Check for open doors and windows, and consider placing a thermometer in the room to monitor the temperature closely.
Keep the Nest Immaculate
Cats instinctively prefer a clean environment for their offspring. This behavior stems from the fact that potent odors in the wild could attract predators, posing a threat to the kittens. If the nest becomes soiled, the mother cat might opt to move her kittens to a cleaner location.
Ensure that you remove any dirtied blankets during your daily checks, clean the litter box thoroughly, and clean up any spilled food. A spotless nest and surrounding area will increase the likelihood of the mother cat staying put in the same place.
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Do Male Cats Need to Be Kept at a Distance from Kittens?
More often than not, veterinarians advise owners to ensure a safe distance between male cats and newborn kittens, regardless of paternal connection. This recommendation arises from the fact that paternal cats generally have no role to play in nurturing and fostering the growth of the kittens. It is most beneficial to leave the mother cat with the sole responsibility of tending to her offspring until they reach the age of weaning. Post this phase, the paternal cat can be gradually introduced to the young ones.
Tomcats, irrespective of their paternal status, have been observed to possess the potential to harm, and in some cases, even eliminate kittens. This seemingly malevolent behavior is propelled by their instinct to ensure that the mother cat’s attention and energy are not consumed by her litter, thereby freeing her for mating. This might come across as a sinister act, but it’s a manifestation of the inherent territorial and sexual aggression in some male cats, which prompts them to eliminate any hurdles preventing them from mating with a female cat in heat.
Thus, it is strongly advised to maintain a strict boundary between any male cat and kittens, a move that also serves to discourage the mother cat from constantly relocating her kittens to ensure their safety.
Do Mother Cats Move Their Kittens if They Are Touched by Humans?
The mother cat’s reaction to human interaction with her kittens largely hinges on her individual temperament. Generally, domesticated mother cats display tolerance towards humans touching their kittens. Nevertheless, guidelines from the ASPCA suggest that kittens should be left untouched for the initial two weeks of their lives. This approach allows the kittens to mature a little and become more resilient to handling.
On the other hand, if the mother cat exhibits signs of distress or agitation, it would be wise to refrain from handling the kittens. Such interference could potentially compel the mother cat to relocate her litter to a different spot.
Why Would a Mother Cat Relocate Her Kittens to My Bed?
Predominantly, mother cats select secluded and safe spots for nesting their kittens. However, if your cat is consistently relocating her kittens to your bed, it may indicate a profound sense of trust in you. Your bed signifies a sanctuary for her kittens, where she believes they will be safe and protected.
In certain instances, this behavior might be an indication that the mother cat seeks a temporary respite from her maternal duties. She trusts you to safeguard and attend to her kittens while she rejuvenates and takes some well-deserved time for herself.
If the mother cat is of a more advanced age, transporting her kittens to your bed could be a sign that she requires assistance. Caring for a large litter could prove taxing for an older feline, and she may appreciate your help.
Moreover, a mother cat might specifically carry a weaker kitten to your bed, separating it from the rest of the litter. This action reflects her trust in your ability to provide the extra care and attention this kitten needs to thrive.
What is the Typical Distance a Feral Cat Might Move Her Kittens?
Determining the precise distance a feral cat might transport her kittens can be challenging. It primarily depends on the size of the territory and the availability of suitable hiding spots for the litter.
If some kittens remain at the original nesting site while others are missing, it’s plausible to assume the mother cat has relocated the others to a nearby area. Note that the process of moving kittens can be interrupted due to various factors such as the presence of predators or sudden environmental changes.
In your desire to assist a feral cat and her kittens, it’s advisable to liaise with a local animal shelter, as feral cats may exhibit aggressive behavior or carry infectious diseases.
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What Might Cause a Cat to Relocate Only One Kitten Repeatedly?
A variety of factors could prompt a mother cat to persistently relocate only one of her kittens. This kitten could potentially be the runt or the weakest member of the litter. To avoid the risk of spreading any potential diseases within the litter, the mother cat might choose to separate the runt. It is often perceived that mother cats view the runts as having lower survival prospects, thus not justifying the investment of their resources and efforts.
Q&A About How To Stop a Cat from Moving Her Kittens Around?
What happens if you move a cat’s kittens?
If you move a cat’s kittens, she might become stressed and anxious, potentially leading to relocation of her kittens to a new spot she deems safer.
Should I move my cats kittens?
Unless the kittens are in immediate danger or in an unsafe environment, it’s generally best not to move a cat’s kittens. Let the mother cat manage her kittens’ location.
Will cats reject their kittens if you touch them?
Generally, domestic cats won’t reject their kittens if you touch them, especially if they’re comfortable with you. However, it’s best to limit handling during the kittens’ first few weeks, and always watch the mother’s reactions to ensure she doesn’t become stressed.