Why Does My Cat Keep Moving One of Her Kittens?

You’re looking forward to your cat giving birth to her babies, and when the time comes, you can’t stop yourself from checking on her to see if she’s okay and to view the new kittens. However, when they are born, you see that your cat continues to move one of her kittens despite your efforts to reposition it. So, what exactly is going on here?

Because there is too much noise and distractions where they were born, a mother cat continues transferring one of her kittens. It’s also possible that the kitten is too unwell to be with the rest of the litter. Her nest may also be too filthy, and she wishes to relocate her kittens.

If your cat continues to move one of her kittens despite you moving it back, she may be expressing her dissatisfaction with it. Keep reading to learn how to stop this behavior and care for the abandoned kitten.

Why do mother cats move their kittens?

Why Does My Cat Keep Moving One of Her Kittens?

There Is Too Much Noise Where She Gave Birth

As every human mother who has recently given birth will tell you, silence is essential for recuperation. A mom cat needs peace to care for her kittens, thus she may be relocating her litter to a different location to get that serenity.

Your cat may have given birth along a busy street in your home, and because of the high volume of traffic, she may feel endangered and wish to relocate her kittens to a more secure location. She’ll usually relocate one kitten to a new location and then wait to see if it’s a good fit before moving the others. She will eventually relocate everyone else to the new location.

Mama cats need time to connect with and care for their kittens shortly after delivery, and if you keep checking on them all the time, your cat will get overwhelmed by your intrusions into the natural process. Apart from providing clean water and fresh food, it is better to let your cat and her babies alone.

The Kitten Might Be Sick or Injured

Because she cannot adequately care for a sick or injured cat, a mother cat may take it away from the rest of the litter and let it to die, which is nature’s method of dealing with problems. Many kittens do not live past the age of twelve weeks, and if your cat feels one of her litter will not, she may strive to save the remainder of her litter.

If you keep pushing it back, she’ll keep moving it, but if you really want to rescue the kitten, you need separate it from the mom and start caring for it alone. To properly care for a kitten, you’ll need milk manufactured specifically for kittens, as well as a correct feeding arrangement. Make an appointment with your veterinarian to confirm you’re properly caring for the kitten.

Cats can smell disease far earlier than humans, so if your cat is rejecting one of its kittens, it might be because something is wrong with it. Please take her kitten to the veterinarian before you begin care for it to rule out any illnesses.

The Litter Might Be Too Big, and She Can’t Feed Them All

Why Does My Cat Keep Moving One of Her Kittens?

The average litter size is three to five kittens, however some cats produce litters as large as 19! With so many kittens, a mother cat can feel overwhelmed. Because there aren’t enough nipples to feed everyone, the mom cat will have to transfer a few kittens to make way for the others. Typically, the babies she transfers are too little or unwell to survive, so the other kittens take precedence.

This approach may appear cruel to humans, but in the animal kingdom, it is all about preserving the greatest resources for those who will make it and live.

Keep an eye on the kittens and your cat to ensure that none of them are rejected. You might have to look after one of the kittens, especially if the litter is huge. Your cat’s first 24 hours after giving birth are critical because she will make the ultimate decision about who to save and who to reject. You may need to interfere if you detect one or two kittens not receiving the attention they require.

It Might Be Instinct to Protect Her Kittens

To keep their kittens safe from predators, cats in the wild will shift them to a secluded and protected spot. The fact that your cat is domesticated hasn’t made this instinct go away. She may believe her kittens are in danger and may transfer them one by one. Mama may not be pleased if you try to return them to the nest, and she may shift them back to her favorite place.

To throw predators off their scent, mother cats relocate their kittens to a new nest every three days. Predators know that the mother is fragile after her recent delivery, and that her offspring will be easy prey.

Indoor cats may not have predators, but they still have an instinctive drive to protect her young. Mother aggressiveness is common in many animals, including cats and humans, therefore she transfers them to avoid conflict.

She Wants a Cleaner Nest for Her Babies

Why Does My Cat Keep Moving One of Her Kittens?

Even if you do your best to clean your cat’s nesting space after she gives birth, your cat may shift her kittens to a cleaner site after she cleans them. She does this to ensure that none of her kittens become infected or unwell.

Also, because cats’ noses have more sensitive scent receptors, they can detect when something isn’t quite right in their nest. When the nest smells “off,” mother cats will transfer their babies.

She Might Be Confused and Disoriented

After giving birth, mother cats may get disoriented or confused, and will shift one of their kittens back and forth for a while. Most animals, including cats, are physically and emotionally exhausted during labor and delivery. A mother cat may have trouble comprehending the situation and will continue to move one of her kittens.

The only thing you can do is keep an eye on your cat and keep the kitten warm and safe while it is bewildered.

How to stop your cat from moving her kittens

Handle the kittens as little as possible

While having newborn kittens in the house might be thrilling, resist the impulse to pick them up and love them. Your mother cat should be taking excellent care of her kittens, and she only need minimum supervision as long as she has a clean nest and access to food, water, and her litter box.

If a large number of people come to see the kittens and even take them up, the mother cat will become alarmed. As the kittens are continuously handled, her smell may begin to fade, leaving her puzzled. In this instance, she could opt to relocate the kittens to a location where she won’t be bothered.

Keep human interaction to a bare minimum until the kittens are at least four weeks old, and don’t let guests in until they’re around eight weeks old. The mother cat will grow more comfortable and receptive of visitors as the kittens begin to move around and explore on their own.

Keep the nest area as quiet as possible

Why Does My Cat Keep Moving One of Her Kittens?

Start thinking about prospective sites for your cat’s nest as soon as you find out she’s expecting kittens. Most cats like a calm environment with low light levels and few people. While your cat will find a location to call her own, it may not be the best place for her. You may attempt to encourage your cat to build her nest somewhere that fulfills her needs while also allowing you to keep an eye on her and her offspring from afar.

Keep the place as peaceful and serene as possible if your cat has decided to construct her nest somewhere improper, but you decide to leave it there. Ensure that other pets are not allowed near her nest. You can even construct a structure for her nest or set it inside a huge box. To offer more seclusion and comfort, drape blankets over the space.

Check the health of the mother cat and kittens

If a mother cat suspects that one of her kittens is sick, she may transfer them. If you witness your mother cat removing one kitten from the nest rather than the entire litter, she may have sensed that something isn’t quite right with that kitten.

It’s a good idea to phone your veterinarian and ask for assistance at this stage. They may provide an initial consultation over the phone or request an in-person examination of the mother cat and kittens.

Mother cats might have a number of health issues, and any of them could indicate that she has opted to relocate her kittens. Mastitis is a painful inflammation of the mammary glands. Antibiotics may be required, and the kittens may need to be bottle-fed while your cat heals. When mother cats do not obtain enough calcium, hypocalcemia develops. Panting, muscular tremors, staggering, and seizures are all possible side effects. Uterine metritis is an infection in your cat’s uterus that causes fever, lethargy, reduced milk supply, and a foul-smelling discharge. She’ll need to see a veterinarian right now.

Make sure the nest is warm

Why Does My Cat Keep Moving One of Her Kittens?

Because newborn kittens are unable to control their own body temperature, they require assistance in keeping warm for the first few weeks of their lives. If your mother cat’s nest is exposed to drafts, she may opt to relocate it to a warmer location. Make sure all doors and windows are closed. You could even want to put a thermometer in the room so you can monitor the temperature.

Keep the nest clean

Cats will naturally prefer to maintain their kittens in a clean environment. This is because powerful odours can attract predators in the wild, putting her cubs’ lives in jeopardy. If the nest becomes filthy, mother may attempt to relocate her offspring to a cleaner location.

Remove any dirty blankets, clean the litter box properly, and make sure any spilt food is swept up as part of your daily check. The mother cat will be more likely to stay in the same position if the nest and surrounding area are kept as clean as possible.

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

You might not be able to stop your cat from moving her nest if she is dead set on doing so! If she believes anything is harming her kittens, she may grow anxious if she is unable to transfer them. If you’ve done everything and she’s still insistent on transferring her babies, you may have no choice but to accept it.

You could opt to assist her by giving new clean bedding, relocating her food and water bowls, and even bringing some of her babies to their new nest if the new place isn’t unsafe.

Christian is an American expat who has lived in Metro Manila, Philippines for over a decade and is the proud dad of two rescue cats, Trixie and Chloe. Both females used to be among the millions of stray cats and dogs that roam the streets of towns and rural areas. Trixie, a three-year-old cat, was rescued from a litter found beneath a neighbor’s porch, while Chloe, a two-year-old kitten, was found screaming in the parking lot by Christian’s little son, Henry. Christian is ecstatic to be a part of the pro-feline movement as Editor in Chief of ExcitedCats.com.


Mother cats shift their offspring for a variety of reasons, and it’s possible that she needs a break from caring for so many lives. However, there are situations when mom does not want to look after one of her kittens and places it outside the nest.

In these cases, you must keep a tight eye on the situation. If a kitten is too little or unwell to survive, the mother separates it from the litter so that the healthy kittens receive more attention. Take the kitten to the veterinarian to rule out any ailments and to learn how to properly care for it.

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