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Why Do Cats Move Their Kittens – 7 Main Reasons

Why Do Cats Move Their Kittens – 7 Main Reasons

If you’ve ever had a cat with kittens, I think you remember these moments of dragging and hiding.

The procedure was sure to be accompanied by feline squeals and loud meows.

And all this despite the fact that you have built for your mama cat the best and most comfortable place. But it was not there, for some reason the cat decided to move with his family to another place.

Do not take it personally – it’s normal feline behavior. So why do cats move and hide their kittens?

Since we have a lot of experience with kittens, we have already formed our own observations and conclusions. We hope that it will be helpful.

Table of Content:

Explanation of Why Cats Move Their Kittens

Have you ever wondered why cats move their kittens around? 

Well, it’s totally normal! A mother cat’s instincts kick in to keep her babies safe and sound. 

She might move them to a new spot to avoid danger, like predators or bad weather. 

Even pet cats can feel the need to move their kittens to a place where they feel more comfy and secure. 

Moving them can also help the mother cat create a sense of safety and familiarity for her little ones. Plus, it’s a way for her to teach them how to survive on their own. 

Most cats are very good mothers and, of course, they adore their kittens. Newborn kittens cannot see or hear anything. Therefore, they are completely helpless and depend only on the mother cat to protect and nurture them. 

All domestic, stray, or wild cats are similar in that they want to find the safest place possible for their kittens. 

A cat will definitely spend some time looking for a place before giving birth. However, later on, the cat’s decision may change. So, if the mother cat thinks the place has been “declawed” or compromised, the kittens will definitely be dragged away.

For outdoor cats, the reason for transferring to the farm may be the presence of predators. For example, it may be dogs or birds. Also, exposure to weather conditions may be the cause.

By understanding why cats move their kittens, we can take better care of our furry friends and let them do what comes naturally to them.

Why is My Cat Moving Her Kittens – the Whole Article in One Video

What reasons do cats have to move their kittens – video?

Why the Mom Cat Doesn’t Like Her Kitty Place

A cat drags a red-haired kitten
A cat drags a red-haired kitten

We’re sure you’ve spent a decent amount of time and effort getting your pet a nice, cozy place to give birth to kittens. But …

A cat has its own vision of the best place for its offspring. Most cats prefer a quiet and safe place. Accordingly, in such a place she and her kittens will be left alone.

It should be known that newborn kittens are completely dependent on their mothers, and cats take their role very seriously.

If your “Purr” gives birth in a place where there is a lot of noise, bright lights, or other traffic, there is a good chance that she will seek a more secluded place.

Even if the original birthing place was “agreed” with the cat, it may change later. Common options are behind or under couches, chairs, and beds, and in drawers or closets.

Reasons Why Cats Move Their Kittens

Rudy Abyssinian cat with kittens
Our mama cat with kittens

Protection from Predators

Of course, kittens are very vulnerable to predators because of their small size and lack of experience. In the wild, predators such as foxes, coyotes, and birds of prey can threaten them.

Even domestic cats can pose a threat to kittens if they are not properly socialized.

To protect their kittens from predators, mom cats can move them to safer places.

For example, a cat may move her kittens to a place that is hard to reach for predators or just out of sight of predators. This could be, for example, under a bush or behind a fence.

By moving her kittens, the cat also minimizes the chance of attracting predators because of the kittens’ scent.

Some predators have been attracted to the smell of newborn kittens. Therefore, moving them to a new location will help avoid this risk.

In general, cats have a reasonably strong instinct to protect kittens from predators.

Finding a Safer and More Comfortable Location

In addition to protecting her kittens from predators, a mom cat might feel the need to move her kittens to a safer and more comfortable location.

There could be many reasons why a mother cat might feel that her current location is unsafe or uncomfortable for her kittens.

For example, a mother cat might move her kittens if she feels that the location is too exposed to the elements.

This could include areas that are too hot, cold, windy, or wet for the kittens. Moving to a location that is more sheltered or has better protection from the weather can help the kittens feel more comfortable and secure.

A mother cat might also move her kittens if she feels that the location is too noisy or busy. This could include areas with lots of foot traffic or noise from cars or other animals. By moving to a quieter location, the mother cat can help reduce stress for her kittens.

Furthermore, a mom cat might move her kittens if she feels that the location is too dirty or unsanitary.

This could include areas with lots of litter or debris, or areas that are prone to pests or disease. Moving to a cleaner and safer location can help reduce the risk of illness or infection for the kittens.

Separation from Other Cats

Another reason why a mother cat might move her kittens is to separate them from other cats.

While adult cats can be friendly and playful with each other, they can also pose a threat to kittens, particularly if they are not familiar with them. For example, if a mother cat has other adult cats in the household, she might move her kittens to a separate location. It prevents any potential aggression or territorial behavior.

Even if the other cats are not aggressive, they might unintentionally harm the kittens by playing too roughly or knocking them over.

Also to protect her kittens from potential harm, a mama cat might move her kittens to separate them from other cats to establish a stronger bond with them.

Mother cats often have a strong desire to care for and nurture their young, and moving them to a separate location can help this bond.

Hence, a mother cat’s instinct to move her kittens to separate them from other cats is driven by her desire to protect and care for her young.

Teaching Survival Skills

In addition to protecting and caring for her kittens, a mother cat also has the important role of teaching her young how to survive in the wild. This includes teaching them important skills such as hunting, grooming, and social behavior.

One reason why a mama cat might move her kittens is to provide them with opportunities to learn and practice these skills.

For example, a mother cat might move her kittens to an area where there are more prey animals, allowing them to learn hunting skills and gain experience catching food.

Mother cats might also move their kittens to an area with different terrain or obstacles, allowing them to practice climbing, jumping, and exploring.

This helps the kittens develop their physical abilities and gain confidence in their surroundings.

Furthermore, mom cats also teach their kittens important social skills, such as communication and hierarchy.

By moving her kittens to different locations, a mother cat can expose them to different social situations and help them develop these skills.

No Experience

For the most part, cats are fine with their kittens. However, if it is her first litter, the situation can be quite different, up to and including eclampsia.

Eclampsia is a critical decrease in serum total calcium levels in a pregnant or lactating cat. As a result of impaired calcium metabolism, the amount of calcium in the body becomes lower than normal. This leads to a very severe, rapidly developing, and dangerous condition – milk fever.

In this situation, of course, there is a danger that she could inadvertently harm her kittens.

At one time, we almost lost our minds when our cat started hissing and throwing herself at the kittens after the first delivery.

Recap of the Reasons Why Cats Move Their Kittens (List)

The reasons why cats move their kittens are complex and multifaceted, driven by a combination of instinctual behaviors and environmental factors.

By understanding these reasons, cat owners can provide a safe and comfortable environment for their furry friends:

  • Protection from potential predators or danger
  • Establishment of a safe and comfortable environment
  • Separation from other cats to prevent potential harm
  • Teaching important survival skills
  • Maintaining cleanliness and hygiene in the nest
  • Making sure the kittens get enough food and have access to what they need
  • No experience (when the cat does not know what to do with the litter)

These are just a few potential reasons why cats might move their kittens, and each situation can be unique. 

How Far Will A Mom Cat Move Her Kittens?

When it comes to moving their kittens, cats often face a challenge in finding the right balance.

On one hand, the mother cat wants to protect her young from potential predators by creating distance between them and their original nesting site. On the other hand, she prefers to stay in a familiar environment.

Usually, a mother cat will not attempt to take her kittens outside and will keep them close to their nesting area, often on the same floor of the house.

Therefore, it’s important to check these familiar areas first, as well as other spots where your cat spends time.

For further reading!

What Food Is Dangerous for Cats (Top 11 Toxic Human Foods)

How Does a Cat Move Their Kittens?

You’ve probably seen a lot of funny videos of cats carrying kittens. 

What are some of the ways she can carry kittens? Surely moving a litter of kittens can be a difficult task for our cat. But they have developed several different methods to make the process easier.

Here is the list of methods for how mama cats can move their kittens.

Carrying. A mom cat will often use her mouth to carry her kittens to a new location. She will pick up the kitten by the scruff of its neck, a technique known as “scruffing”, which triggers a reflex in the kitten that causes it to go limp and makes it easier to carry. This is the basic method that our cat Patricia used when she had kittens.

Dragging. In some cases, a mother cat may drag her kittens to a new location using her teeth or claws. However, this method can be stressful for the kittens and should be avoided if possible. We observed this method ourselves for older kittens.

Encouraging them to follow. Your pet might coax her kittens to move by nudging them with her nose or gently pushing them with her paw. She may also meow or purr to encourage her kittens to follow her to a new location. This method is less stressful for the kittens and can help them become more independent as they learn to follow their mother’s lead.

Here Is Our Story

After the 3rd attempt, we gave up and organized a new place near the couch, but without the box. Our exhibition tent came in handy.

Based on our observations, it is most likely that our cat has decided that it is time to take the kittens out of the box to learn about the world around them.

We think this is the main reason for a cat dragging one-month-old kittens.

What are the Signs That a Cat May Move Her Kittens

Here are some signs that your cat may be preparing to move her kittens:

Agitation. One of the first signs that your cat may be preparing to move her kittens is agitation. She may pace, meow loudly, or act restless. You may also notice her grooming her kittens excessively or moving them around within their current nesting spot.

Hiding. When a mother cat is preparing to move her kittens, she may start to look for a new, safe location. This could mean hiding in a closet, under a bed, or in a quiet corner of the house. You may notice that she spends more time away from her current nesting spot, or that she disappears for long periods of time.

Gathering materials. If your cat is preparing to move her kittens to a new location, she may start gathering materials to create a new nest. This could include soft blankets, towels, or even bits of paper or fabric. You may notice these items disappearing from around your home.

Carrying behavior. As we discussed in a previous chapter, one way that mom cats move their kittens is by carrying them in their mouth. If you notice your cat picking up her kittens and moving them around frequently, she may be preparing to move them to a new location.

Changes in feeding behavior: Finally, if your cat is preparing to move her kittens, you may notice changes in her feeding behavior. She may become more protective of her kittens during feeding time or may start to feed them less frequently as she prepares to move them to a new location.

It is important to keep these signs in mind if you have a mother cat and her kittens in your home. If you notice that the cat is getting ready to move her kittens, you should give her the space and support she needs to keep her family safe and healthy.

🔥 See also:

What to Do if You Notice a Mama Cat Moving Her Kittens?

Adorable Abyssinian kittens in a box! Are they waiting for mom
Litter of our Abyssinian kittens (5 guys)

If you notice a mother cat moving her kittens, it’s important to take appropriate steps to ensure their safety and well-being. 

Here are some things you can do:

Observe from a distance.

It’s important to give the mother cat and her kitten plenty of space and privacy during the moving process. Observe from a distance to avoid causing unnecessary stress.

Provide a safe and secure location

If you notice the mother cat moving her kittens to an unsafe location, such as a busy road or a place accessible to predators, provide a safe and secure location for them. This can be a quiet room in your home or a protected area outdoors.

Ensure adequate resources 

Make sure the mom cat and her kittens have access to food, water, and a litter box in their new location. It’s also important to provide a warm and comfortable space for them to rest.

Avoid handling the kittens. 

Handling the kittens too much can cause stress and potentially harm them. It’s best to let the mother cat care for them and only handle them if necessary for their safety or health.

Contact a veterinarian if necessary. 

If you notice any signs of illness or injury in the mom cat or her kittens, contact a veterinarian for advice on how to proceed.

We gave our mama cat Patricia another hiding place.
And you won’t believe it – she agreed. See below!

The Perfect Solution (Our Experience)

Be patient and let mama cat take care of her kittens in a quiet place where she will not be disturbed by children or other animals.

It will be enough to make sure she has food and water and to monitor her condition.

Offer her a cozy place and give her some time to take care of her offspring in peace. And, believe me, she’ll do it all by herself!

Clickable gallery!


Frequently Asked Questions