What Does It Mean if a Mother Cat Is Growling at Her Newborn Kittens?

When kittens are old enough, mama will chase them out of the nest.
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You pass by the area of your home where your mama cat has been raising and feeding her brood of kittens. She hisses and growls. You look at your mama cat, wondering, “What just happened? Is she sick? Did she become a bad mama?” No, she didn’t.

She’s Tired

Your mommy cat has been working around the clock, taking care of all of her little ones, feeding them, making them go potty, cleaning them and teaching them how to use the litter box. Whew! She’s beat!

At that startling moment when she opens her mouth and lets out that distinctive hiss, she’s telling her young ‘uns, “Hey, I need a few moments of me-time. Take a nap or go play. Now!” It’s a normal behavior and nothing that tells you to remove the babies from her. If you do, you’ll get some painful scratches for your efforts.

Weaning Time

All little kitties grow up into big, adult kitties. Sometimes they miss the cue that it’s time to pack up and move away from mama. She’s tired of feeding them 24/7. She wants to expand her horizons and spend more of her time on herself, sunning on her favorite armchair, snoozing her days away. She’ll hiss and growl at them so she can get some quiet time. When it’s time to wean -- usually around six weeks -- she’ll let them know.

Mama is thinking that food may be scarce. Once she’s weaned her babies, she’s thinking that it’s not in anyone’s interests for them to hang around, so she’ll growl and tell them, “Chop, chop! Move out!”

She Needs to Find Food

If mama and babies spend some of their days outdoors, mama may decide she needs to go find food for herself and possibly for her children. It’s much easier for her to “shop” without the distraction, misbehavior and noise kittens bring with them. Mama knows she’ll be able to bring something home if her babies aren’t scaring off the prey. She’ll turn around and hiss at any kittens who are trying to follow. They may not expect it, so they’ll stumble back and return to their spot and wait for her to come back.

Kittens Have to Leave

Mama looks at her kittens and realizes they’re nearly adults and decides it’s time for them to wean from her, so she’ll let out that mama-hiss and a growl that says, “OK, kiddos! Time to move out and find your own places!” She does know when they’re ready to become more independent.

Mama cats are no-nonsense when it comes to booting their babies out of the home. When it’s time -- it’s time. Kittens mature quickly, so mama isn’t being neglectful by kicking them out before their first birthdays. She’s doing the best thing possible for them, actually.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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