The wild cats often move their kittens if they feel the nesting site has become dangerous for any reason. Generally due to the presence of predators.
A domestic cat who has become a mother is a particularly sensitive and attentive feline: her life focuses on the protection and care of her kittens . However, it often happens that female cats move their kittens indoors or even hide them in the garden.
If you’ve ever had a cat that has given birth to kittens , chances are, your cat has moved her kittens at some time . Even if you have provided her with a nice and comfortable nest, she may have decided to move her family to another place. Do not take it personally, it is one of the behaviors of postpartum cats.
I list the possible reasons for this behavior below
Reasons why cats move their kittens
Cats are territorial and secretive creatures , and while they seek to give birth to their kittens in a safe place , over time a mother may become uncomfortable with where her kittens were born. You can move them to a closet, under a bed, to a dresser drawer, under or behind the sofa, or to another strange place.
When kittens come to life , they are born without the senses of sight or hearing; they only have a developed sense of smell that allows them to recognize their mother.
The mother cat should feed them, teach them to suck, and then gradually familiarize them with their new surroundings, sounds, smells, and dangers. He calms, scolds, licks, rewards and punishes them. She teaches them how to use their baby teeth that appear after four weeks, to play, to moderate their bites and scratches. In short, the mother cat socializes the kittens .
For this long and highly coded learning, the cat needs a cozy little nest that is easy to observe and protect, and at the same time very comfortable. During the first four weeks, the mother spends 60 to 80% of her time in the nest. During the second month, she is increasingly absent, refusing to feed her kittens in the third month to achieve weaning and forcing them to eat solid food.
For the above to take place, the cat needs a comfortable nest adapted to the size of its young , so it sometimes needs to change its location.
The reasons for the transfer of babies can be varied:
- Kittens are constantly growingfrom one day to the next, you need a larger nest.
- She may feel that it is not safe for her kittensand may move them.
- The room can be too crowded.
- The area may be too noisy or the lighting too brightfor your taste.
A common reason a cat moves her kittens is because too many people are looking at them frequently or too early for comfort.
The most common is that the cat moves her kittens during the first weeks after they are born. The transfers of the kittens can also indicate that the mother is nervous because she has no experience as a first time.
During the first days after the kittens are born, keep in contact with the litter for the minimum time, just make sure that the cat and kittens are healthy, there is food and a clean litter box.
Although it is desirable for kittens to be well socialized , your cat needs to feel that her shelter is a safe place for her kittens. For this, your refuge must be in a quiet place where you can be with your kittens without being disturbed. Other pets should not be allowed near that location. I would suggest keeping people away at least until the kittens open their eyes (at eight days old).
Children should not visit or handle kittens unless they can remain calm and gently hold them. Always wash your hands well before handling kittens, as their immune systems are not developed enough to fight harmful microorganisms.
Not all cats hide their kittens, and there are even female cats that are very comfortable with their environment. The best thing to do is not to interfere and you should try not to lose sight of where you are moving them.
Why are you moving them by the neck? What do kittens feel?
Female cats carry their kittens with their mouths through the loose fur on their necks . This method of picking up a cat is how the mother cat picks up her kittens, when she needs to relocate them or prevent them from straying too far from their nest. This transfer has many advantages for the mother. Quick and safe, it allows you to carry your little ones one by one without running the risk of them escaping.
Scrolling the skin of the neck has another advantage. In fact, the kitten has specific receptors located under the skin of its neck, these trigger a natural reflex in the kitten that instantly calms it by relaxing its front legs and tail and becoming curled up in midair. This position facilitates transport for the mother.
In addition, the kitten cannot fight or complain, making it easier for the mother to better control her young during the various movements that she must make during their transfer.
How to prevent my cat from moving her young
During the first weeks of life, kittens cannot regulate their body temperature, so they depend on the warmth of their mothers. If a cat moves her kittens frequently, they could have trouble chilling them. To prevent the cat from moving her young :
1. Set up a good place in the house for them
When a cat gives birth, she does not need your help to care for her kittens. Your presence can cause anxiety. All you need to do is provide a dry, clean, and cozy nest in a quiet, low-traffic corner of the house, free from bright lights and drafts.
Ideally, they should have a box or large bed for the cat and kittens to enter. Then put on a few layers of clean blankets and change them when they are dirty.
The kittens will drink milk from their mother. But the cat needs to eat. It is better that your food is always available daily along with fresh water.
2. You must be patient
There is no doubt that a newborn kitten is so adorable that anyone loves to cuddle it all the time. Unfortunately, for both cats and kittens, that is not a way to give love, rather it is a way to make them insecure.
Controlling your love for kittens will be the best solution in this delicate period of time. Pay attention to the mother’s body language and behavior when handling the kittens. One to two weeks after birth, most mothers will allow handling as long as the kittens are held briefly and in plain sight at all times.
And don’t forget that the interaction immediately after a move can cause another move.
Why does a cat separate her young?
Some female cats divide their kittens into two groups . As long as the kittens are healthy and fed, you shouldn’t do anything. However, if you see her neglecting a group of cats and not feeding them, then you may need to act.
It is not known why some cats find it easier to care for their kittens in two groups. She may feel that having them all suck at the same time is not possible. It may be easier for her to care for her kittens in this other way.
Just keep an eye on the kittens and make sure they are feeding. If not, you will need to bottle feed those she has stopped feeding.
Why does my cat bring her kittens to me?
Actually, it is quite normal for a mother cat to have this behavior of taking her kittens .
Here are some of the reasons why she would do it:
- Maybe she can’t feed them all and is asking for your help.
- She wants them to socialize and trust you.
- She considers you part of her pack, and she totally trusts you.
- Perhaps the nest location of the litter is not right for her, and she needs you to find a more suitable place for her and the kittens.
- You need a little break from your babies.
- Some of the kittens may be sick and weak and she wants you to help her.
- You may be a new cat and don’t know how to take care of them.
- She is proud to have babies and wants her to share her joy with you.
Reasons why cats abandon their young?
1. Disease or deformity of kittens
If you feel that one of your kittens is sick, you will think that it will die. In this situation to save her milk and energy for her other kittens who have a better chance of survival, the cat will abandon her sick kitten.
Some nursing mothers suffer from mastitis, an infection of the mammary gland. This can happen spontaneously or caused by kittens scratching their tissue while nursing.
The nipple swells, becomes hard and warm to the touch. Therefore, it may appear that the mother is rejecting her babies when it is actually too painful to let them suckle.
3. Litter size
Too large a litter can also lead to rejection. If there is not enough milk for all her kittens, the mother may reject some kittens for the others to have milk.
A careful observer will likely notice this behavior within the first 24 hours of birth.
4. New mom
A very young cat who has not developed mothering skills may act confused or disinterested.
A cat may also have been traumatized during delivery if, for example, she was not in a safe place or had physical difficulties during delivery. Due to hypervigilance and nervousness, she may not relax and lie down so that the kittens can suckle.
5. The mother cat has died
Sometimes it seems that the mother has abandoned her kittens, when in reality the mother was hit by a car or died of illness. Kittens orphaned for this reason have a better chance of survival than kittens abandoned, because orphans are not necessarily sick.
At what age do cats abandon their young?
A mother cat abandons her kittens when they are old enough to fend for themselves, otherwise she would have dozens of cats following her and taking her food and energy, so she really has no other choice.
They get pregnant twice a year or so, and can have an average of four kittens in a litter. That’s eight kittens a year. And in a few years … calculate. That is really too much for anyone.
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