Why Do New Mother Cats Move Their Kittens & Meow a Lot?

Mom may move her kittens when they outgrow the nest.
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Your furry friend had a litter of little kittens snuggling in a box you set up in the spare bedroom. You come home from work to find they're gone. You hear your new mom mewing to her babies and find them in a bundle under your bed. Why'd she relocate?

Do Not Disturb

You were so enamored with the adorable balls of kitten you just couldn't stop visiting them. You would pet them and gingerly hold them, squealing with delight and their precious little faces. While you think you're just being friendly, mom may not see it this way. If she feels like her babies are being disturbed or in danger, she'll move them to a quieter location. It's OK to visit the new mom, just keep your voice down and respect her space. If Kitty seems to be enjoying the attention, she may trust you enough to allow you to visit her nest. If she starts to seem upset, back away and give her some room.

Outgrown the Nest

While mom may move her babies because the spot you picked was too noisy, it's probably just because the babies are getting bigger. Most mother cats will move their babies around 3 or 4 weeks old. This could be because they've gotten too big for the basket you supplied her to give birth in. It may have simply gotten a little messy so it's time for a cleaner space. In the wild, when the kittens begin to wean she'll move them closer to her favorite hunting grounds so she can teach them to hunt. This may mean she'll move them closer to her food dish so she can easily teach them to eat solid food.

Still in Labor

If Kitty has just given birth to three or four babies and she's still yowling and crying, she may be still be in labor. Cats have three stages of labor. During the first stage the kittens are moving around and getting into position to enter the world. She'll move around a lot trying to get comfortable and start preparing a nest. This stage can last 12 to 24 hours. During the second stage, she'll be actively giving birth to a kitten. During this stage she'll probably meow frequently because, as any mom will tell you, giving birth hurts. It'll take about 15 minutes for the kitten to be born once you see his little paws emerge. If it takes longer than this, you should bring mom to the vet for help. The third stage of labor is a period of rest between kittens. This can be a few minutes to up to an hour. You may think she's done giving birth since she'll take the time to relax and groom her babies. If she begins crying again and straining, it just means more little kittens are on their way.

The Language of Mom

Mom will frequently meow to her kittens as a way to communicate with them. She'll chirp and meow at her kittens every time she enters the nest to signal her arrival. When she begins to wean them and brings them solid food to eat, she'll meow to her kittens to let them know it's meal time. Some of the chatter you're hearing may come from the new litter as well. Whenever they want mom's attention, the kittens will cry to let her know they need something. Mom will also growl at her kittens when they do something they shouldn't. Nursing is always a chorus of happy purrs all around. Frequent, uncharacteristic meowing can also be a sign she's hurt or in pain. If she continues to yowl after all the kittens are born, she should visit her vet to get a check-up.

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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