Why Does My Cat Keep Moving Her Kittens?
If you’re a new cat parent to a litter of kittens, you might be wondering why Mama Cat keeps moving her babies all around the house. As someone who’s fostered many rescued cat families, let me tell you – this behavior is totally normal! Mother cats move their kittens for a variety of reasons, all connected to their natural survival instincts.
In this article, we’ll dive deep into the science and psychology behind this mama cat behavior. We’ll also share some tips on how you can make your queen feel more secure and comfortable while raising her little furballs. Let’s get started!
It’s All About Safety and Survival
At their core, cats are still primal creatures motivated by age-old instincts – even our domesticated tabby girls! When it comes to her kittens, your cat transforms into a fiercely protective mama bear obsessed with keeping her babies safe from any real or perceived threat.
Moving the kittens from place to place is an ingrained survival strategy, traced back to when wild cats had to protect their young from predators. It’s funny to imagine our cozy housecats retaining these behaviors when the most “dangerous” creature around is a Roomba!
“My cat Mittens went into hardcore mama mode when she had kittens, patrolling the house and staring out windows for imaginary predators!”
Temperature Regulation – Keeping Kittens Warm and Cozy
Kittens don’t have the ability to control their own body temperature for the first few weeks of life. They rely completely on mama cat and external heat sources to stay warm. If the nest she originally chose becomes too chilly, your mama will swiftly move her babies to a warmer spot.
Watch her behavior to see where she settles – chances are, it’s a hot spot near a heat vent, in the sunny patch on the couch, or in a cozy closet with lots of blankets. The ambient temperature should be around 80°F for newborn kittens. As they grow, that can be reduced to around 72°F.
“We set up a heating pad covered with blankets in the kitten nest box. Within a day, mama cat had relocated the whole gang to that warm spot!”
Peace and Quiet, Please! Noise and Disturbances
Cats have very sensitive hearing, so loud environments can be incredibly overwhelming – especially for a mama cat tending to vulnerable kittens. If the area near her original nest becomes too noisy or disrupted, she’ll pick up the whole kitten crew and move them to a calmer location.
Watch out for vacuum cleaners, TVs blasting, dogs barking, toddlers squealing! Even cooking noises or loud music can disturb her. She may hide the kittens under your bed or deep inside a quiet closet.
“When my kids had a birthday party at home, mama cat hid the kittens downstairs in the basement until the chaos passed!”
Dangers Real and Perceived – Keeping Kittens Safe
Remember, Mama Cat is hardwired to protect her babies from harm, so she stays on high alert, looking out for scary threats. This includes other household pets that get too close. But even guests in your home can read as “predators” to your watchful mama.
If she feels the area around her nest is unsafe, she’ll swiftly relocate her kittens somewhere more secure. This might be a high perch, hidden closet, or even under blankets right next to you! Her #1 job is keeping those kittens safe.
“When we had relatives visiting, mama cat stationed herself under the bed growling if anyone got close. We gave her space until guests left.”
Cleanliness – Preventing Disease in Kittens
Cats have a great sense of smell, so strong odors we don’t even notice can be nauseating for a mama cat. As she cares for tiny newborn kittens, keeping the environment clean is crucial. Soiled or smelly bedding can attract predators and disease.
Be diligent about changing out soiled bedding whenever she moves kittens. Provide fresh, soft bedding that absorbs messes and makes cleanup easier on her. Scoop that litter box daily too so she doesn’t relocate due to odor!
“I lined the kitten nest with potty pads and soft blankets, changing them out twice a day. This helped mama cat relax about cleanliness.”
Supporting Mama Cat and Her Kittens
If you want to reduce the frequency of mama cat moving her babies, the key is making her feel secure. Set up a designated nesting area that’s quiet, calm, and cozy. Maintain it cleanly. Give her privacy and space, resisting too much handling of kittens.
Provide food, water, and litter box access close by so everything she and the kittens need is right there without having to transport the babies far. Show her she has a safe zone to raise her little ones.
While a vigilant mama cat on high alert might seem distressing, try to have empathy. Her behavior comes from a deep, primal desire to protect her young. By understanding those instincts, you can earn her trust and give her what she needs during this vulnerable time.
Additional Insights on Mama Cat Behavior
To wrap up, let’s recap a few more intriguing reasons why cats move their kittens frequently:
- Environmental changes – Fluctuations in light, and rearrangements of furniture can prompt her to relocate kittens
- Health concerns – She may isolate sick kittens or move them nearer to you if she needs help
- Weaning process – As kittens grow, she may move them to aid independence
- Bonding with humans – Bringing kittens closer to you displays her trust and need for support
Getting into the mind of a mama cat might seem mystifying, but a little empathy goes a long way. She doesn’t make these decisions lightly – ultimate protection is her singular driving motivation.
We hope this gave you some “paws” to understand the psychology behind this common feline behavior!