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9 Reasons Why Do Cats Move Their Kittens

9 Reasons Why Do Cats Move Their Kittens

If you’re enjoying the sight of newborn kittens for the first time in your life, this is a truly irreplaceable experience.

This is also a moment where you can witness the importance of a mother cat. Just like with all other species, the cat mom keeps her offspring safe and protected. She feeds and grooms them, and keeps them warm.

One thing you could notice is that the mom cat is carrying and dragging her kittens from their location all of a sudden.

What’s happening? Why do cats move their kittens?

This isn’t so unusual and many mother cats will exhibit this behavior. Let’s look at the nine explanations for this, as well as how to prevent the mom cat from moving her offspring.

1. Inexperience 

A mother cat could move her kittens due to lack of experience. 

The first time having a litter of newborn kittens is challenging. As Cornell Catwatch explains, a new mother may occasionally seem to be overwhelmed by this new experience.

A couple of helpless, demanding kittens can be a lot for a cat facing this new feeling for the first time. Moving them around can be just her way of figuring things out.

2. Protection

cat carrying kitten outside

One of the primary responsibilities of a mother cat is to ensure the safety and protection of her offspring.

This is also one of the reasons why the survival rate of kittens is decreased without their mother around.

Once a mother cat senses a potential threat around her nest, she decides it’s time to change the location.

This way, she’s preventing predators from harming her kittens. The mom cat could do this several times in a row – whenever she feels like the place of her nest isn’t entirely safe.

3. Privacy 

A mother cat will feel the need to be alone and raise her kittens on her own devices.

In case her nest is placed in a location where there are many humans around, she could move her kittens to a more private place.

This is also a difficult period for her, when she’s responsible for the lives of a couple of her offspring.

Cats are likely to want to hide their litter from curious human views and will prefer to care for them in privacy.

4. Warmth

mom cat carrying kitten

Another possibility for a mom cat to move her kittens is to look for a warmer place. Perhaps the previous location was exposed to wind or dampness, which isn’t ideal for young kittens.

They need to be warm to survive. According to the National Kitten Coalition, kittens cannot self-regulate their body temperature until about four weeks of age.

The temperature in their surroundings can even affect their survival. Therefore, their mom is the one that needs to keep them warm. On some occasions, this will require a change of location.

5. Looking For A Quiet Place

When just born, kittens cannot hear. They should start hearing their first sound at about two to three weeks of age.

This means that they will not have problems with noise in their first days.

However, a mother cat will not appreciate a noisy place while she’s nurturing her offspring. If she’s located in a place where there’s ongoing noise, she’s likely to move her kittens to a more quiet location.

6. Separation From Other Cats

cat moving her kitten

No matter how deeply we bond with our feline friends, we need to be aware that their behavior is far different from ours.

Imagining adult cats and newborn kittens getting along isn’t exactly a realistic picture. Despite the fact the mother cat takes such good care of her offspring, this doesn’t mean all other cats in their surroundings will be friendly towards them.

Adult cats don’t necessarily need to present a threat to newborn kittens. However, it’s possible they could. There are even some situations where male cats could potentially kill kittens.

This is why a mother cat decides to isolate her offspring from other cats and keep them as safe as possible.

7. A Lesson For Hunting

A mother cat may move her offspring to another place where there are more prey animals. This can be her way of teaching them how to hunt and survive once she won’t be around to provide them with food.

All cats have a natural gift for hunting and this is an essential skill for them to develop.

Although domestic cats don’t actually need to go hunting to get some food, they will still gladly do it.

Our house cats are domesticated, but they still have natural instincts for hunting. Most cat parents will experience their pets bringing them dead animals. This can be their way of praising for hunting prey, or even a way to show affection towards their people!

8. The Kittens Got Too Big

photo of cat and kitten

A mother cat moving her kittens could be just a matter of convenience.

It’s quite likely that her kittens have grown in size and have outgrown their previous nest. This is a sign that kittens are thriving and are perfectly healthy.

Therefore, it’s time for their mother to move them to a larger place where they will be more comfortable.

9. Hygiene Reasons

Finally, this behavior can be about the importance of cleanliness for cats.

If your cat feels her nest got too dirty, she will drag her offspring to another place. Felines are very fussy about dirt.

For instance, they could refuse to use a litter box if they find it too dirty.

Having a clean environment is especially important to them while nurturing their offspring.

How To Stop The Mother Cat From Moving Here Kittens?

black cat carrying tiny kitten

If your cat has moved her kittens, and the new location seems to be appropriate, there are some steps you can take to prevent her from moving them again.

To start with, you should let your cat do her thing. Don’t pick up the kittens, try not to make too much noise around them, and provide the mother cat with all the privacy she needs.

You should keep their surroundings clean and provide your cat with food and water. Try to be the only person entering the area where the mother cat takes care of her offspring.

Additional people and pets can make her anxious and cause her to move the nest again. 

Furthermore, make sure that the place is nice, warm, and cozy. If necessary, add some blankets and towels to make them as comfortable as possible.

Continuously monitor your cat and her litter without causing any distress. In case you notice anything suspicious concerning their health, call a veterinarian immediately.

In the end, I would like to emphasize that, sometimes, a mother cat will show the intention of moving her kittens once again.

It can all seem perfectly good to you, but she will still sense some danger and need to relocate them. 

You should let her do this, since trying to prevent her can only lead to anxiety and even aggression.

Just as long as the new location isn’t dangerous for your cat and her offspring, you shouldn’t intervene.

Final Thoughts

Seeing a mother cat moving her kittens can be surprising.

As we could have seen, there are a couple of reasons for this behavior. In general, the mom cat does this to find a more suitable place for her offspring.

This can be due to looking for warmth, safety, or cleanliness. In any case, this is a mother’s way of caring for her young ones.

To prevent her from doing this multiple times, you should ensure that your cat’s nest is warm, safe, clean, and located in a quiet place.

All mothers, including cats, have the challenging task of caring for their offspring that are entirely dependent on them in the beginning.

Therefore, it’s also our responsibility to ensure they have a perfectly convenient spot to do this.