Why do cats move their kittens?

+73 votes
asked Mar 24, 2015 in Pets & Animals by Chew (1,100 points)
edited Sep 4, 2015 by Kris
My tabby cat just had kittens, and I haven’t had a lot of experience with newborn animals. Every time I leave home, she moves the kittens somewhere. It’s making me worry because I’m afraid of one of them getting lost or squished. Why do mother cats move their kittens?

5 Answers

+24 votes
answered Sep 6, 2015 by DerrickUjs82 (420 points)
Once kittens start growing a lot, the mother cat will move her kittens to a bigger or cleaner space. If the box, bed, or other location you set up for your cat starts getting cramped or just too dirty, then she’ll move them to a better spot.

In the wild, cats will move their kittens closer to their favorite hunting grounds once they start to wean so that they don’t have to travel too far for her to teach them how to hunt. So if you notice your cat moving the kittens closer to the food bowl, it might just be a natural instinct to teach them how to eat on their own!
+19 votes
answered Apr 1, 2015 by Amy (880 points)
If your cat keeps moving her kittens when you’re not around then it might be because she thinks the kittens are being disturbed too much or in danger. When my cat had kittens my daughter kept visiting them, petting them, and squealing over the new adorable babies. The cat kept moving them around so we made a rule in the house to give the kittens some space for a while. Once we did that our cat quit moving the kittens! It’s okay to visit them every now and then as long as you’re being quiet and calm. She’s just being a nervous mother who is trying to keep her kittens as safe as possible, and natural instincts are telling her to hide her babies to do so.
+9 votes
answered Aug 22, 2015 by NathanielMar (340 points)
I'd like to answer why do cats move their kittens. This mostly happens when the kittens are newly born. The mother moves them for safety reason. The mothers might think that people are going to come in whenever you open the door. Afraid that many people are going to look at and touch her kids every so often, she will move them away. The kittens and the mother will eventually be well enough to socialize given enough time. For now, all she needs is a refuge she can feel safe and secure in. Next time when you leave, do it as quietly as possible (though it might not help since cats have pretty good sense of hearing). Her refuge should be quiet and where she can be alone with the kittens with no distribution. If you have young children in the house, teach them leave the kittens for now. Since it is still newborn, the kittens still at that stage where they won’t open their eyes. So it’s all up to the mother to take care of them. She should move the kittens lesser and lesser as time goes.
+6 votes
answered May 15, 2015 by LanceMarcus6 (310 points)
But not all cats try to hide their kittens away, although in a very comforting environment for the mother, she would still move them around. Probably when you leave you make too much noise and the mom decides to move them away. Maybe if you always leave at a specific time, the mother would learn your routine and thinks that with no one at home, it probably going to be her best chance to take care of the youngs while the pesky human is gone. Whenever she feels a sense of danger too, she will promptly move them away. So respect her space for the time being. When the kittens get older she might start trying to find them a new nest, closer to the hunting ground if it's in nature. The mother might just go off to teach them how to hunt, or eat the solid canned food in this case. There is probably nothing to worry about. But if she continues this behavior for a long while, then maybe it’s about time you regain the trust with her.
+5 votes
answered Apr 2, 2015 by Iesha (730 points)
So why do cats move their kittens? Cats can go back into heat very soon after giving birth, within 7-14 days, so this could cause your cat to mover her babies. It might be her way of showing discomfort or a hormone spike during her heat. Most of the reasons behind why cats move their babies have to do with their body or natural instincts, so it’s always a good idea to give them space and let them do what they see fit as long as there’s no obvious danger to the kittens involved.
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