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How to Stop a Cat From Moving Kittens (5 Proven Methods)

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	Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ, Veterinarian

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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It can be exciting knowing that your cat is having a litter of cute kittens. But after they’re born, there’s so much to keep an eye on as a cat owner. Some mother cats can start moving their kittens away from the nest area, and this can happen for a variety of reasons. There are a few methods that you can use to stop your mother cat from moving her kittens, though!

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Why do mother cats move their kittens?

mother and kitten_ vargazs_Pixabay
Image Credit: vargazs, Pixabay

While our domestic cats might now be used to a life of comfort and plenty, they still retain ingrained habits from their time as wild animals. Mother cats move their kittens for a variety of reasons, including:

  • The nest area is too noisy.
  • The nest area is too bright.
  • One kitten is sick and she removes them from the litter.
  • There are too many human visitors.
  • She feels threatened.
  • The nest area is dirty.

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How to stop your cat from moving her kittens

If your cat is moving her kittens and the location that she’s chosen is completely appropriate, then there are a few things that you can do to encourage her to keep the kittens and nest where it is right now. You may need to use one method or a combination.

1. Handle the kittens as little as possible

mother-cat_Christiane Höfer_Pixabay
Image Credit: Christiane Höfer, Pixabay

While it can be incredibly exciting to have newborn kittens in the house, resist the urge to pick them up and cuddle them. Your mother cat should be doing a great job of looking after her kittens, and as long as she has a clean nest and access to food, water, and her litter tray, she needs minimal supervision.

If many people are coming to meet the kittens and even pick them up, the mother cat will start to feel threatened. Her scent may start to be lost as the kittens are constantly handled, leaving her feeling confused. In this case, she may decide to move the kittens to a place where she’s less likely to be disturbed.

Keep human contact to a minimum until the kittens are at least 4 weeks old, and don’t allow visitors until they’re about 8 weeks old. As the kittens start moving around and exploring on their own, the mother cat will become more relaxed and accepting of people visiting her babies.

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2. Keep the nest area as quiet as possible

kitten-with-mom_JackieLou DL_Pixabay
Image Credit: JackieLou DL, Pixabay

As soon as you know that your cat is expecting kittens, start thinking about potential locations for her nest. Most cats will choose a quiet place with low light levels and not too many people. While your cat will find somewhere for herself, it might not be a place that’s going to be suitable. You can try to persuade your cat to set up her nest somewhere that meets her criteria and allows you to check on her and her kittens from a distance.

If your cat has decided to build her nest somewhere inappropriate, but you decide to leave it where it is, keep the area as quiet and calm as possible. Make sure other pets are kept away from her nest. You can even build a frame or place her nest inside a large crate. Cover the area with blankets to add extra privacy and warmth.

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3. Check the health of the mother cat and kittens

cat and vet._Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock
Image Credit: Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock

Sometimes a mother cat will move a single kitten if she thinks that they may be ill. If you notice your mother cat taking one kitten out of the nest rather than trying to move the whole litter, she may have picked up that something isn’t right with that particular kitten.

At this point, it’s a good idea to call your vet and ask for their advice. They may do an initial consultation over the phone or ask to examine the mother cat and kittens in person.

Mother cats can suffer from a variety of health problems, and any of them may mean that she has decided to move her kittens. Mastitis is an infection of the mammary glands and is painful. Your cat may need antibiotics, and the kittens could need to be bottle-fed while she recovers. Hypocalcemia happens when mother cats don’t get enough calcium. It can cause panting, muscle tremors, staggering, and seizures. Uterine metritis is an infection that leads to fever, lethargy, decreased milk production, and a bad-smelling discharge from your cat’s uterus. She will need immediate veterinary care.

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4. Make sure the nest is warm

kittens sleeping_New Africa_Shutterstock
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Newborn kittens can’t regulate their own body temperature, so they need help keeping warm for the first few weeks of life. If there are drafts where your mother cat has made her nest, then she may decide to move it to a warmer place. Check that doors and windows are kept shut. You might even consider adding a thermometer to the room so you can keep an eye on the temperature.

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5. Keep the nest clean

sleeping cat with kittens
Image Credit: Sofia Kostova, Pixabay

Cats will instinctively want to keep their kittens somewhere clean. That’s because strong scents can attract predators in the wild, and that will put the lives of her kittens in danger. If the nest is becoming dirty, then she might start trying to move her kittens to a cleaner spot.

As part of your daily check, remove any soiled blankets, clean the litter box thoroughly, and make sure spilled food is cleared away. If the nest and surrounding area are as clean as possible, the mother cat will be more likely to stay in the same spot.

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Sometimes allowing a cat to move the nest is the only course of action

If your cat is completely determined to move her nest, you may not be able to stop her! If she’s decided that something is threatening her kittens, then she may become stressed if she isn’t able to move them. If you’ve tried all these methods and she’s still convinced that moving her kittens is the way to go, you may just need to accept it.

As long as the new location isn’t dangerous, you might decide to help her by providing new clean bedding, moving her food and water bowls, and even carrying some of her kittens to their new nest.

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Featured Image Credit: Jonas Jovaisis , Pixabay