How to Tell if a Cat Is Rejecting Kittens

Healthy, loved kittens shouldn't cry often.

Healthy, loved kittens shouldn't cry often.

Cats have a very keen sense of new kitten health, and may reject kitties they perceive as unhealthy or weak. Other cats reject kittens from depression and inexperience. Nurture rejected kitties with kitten milk replacement and regular care, but be prepared for some degree of failure with sickly kittens.

Watch momma cat for signs that she is irritated, distracted or distressed. Cats should snuggle their kittens to keep them warm, lick kittens to clean them and suckle kittens. If your cat isn't doing any of these things, she may be rejecting the new kitties.

Listen for mewling, crying kittens. Kitties that are being rejected will cry for attention, often without ceasing.

Look for kittens who have been physically removed from the nest or separated from momma cat. Physical isolation is a clear sign of neglect. Do not move the isolated kittens back to momma cat, as this might cause her to reject all kitties. It's up to you to keep them warm and feed them kitten milk replacement.

Watch out for signs of aggression toward kittens. This is an extremely clear signal that momma cat has rejected her young.


  • Some moms ignore firstborn cats until the rest of the litter is born. If your cat's leaving her little one alone, she may nurture it once more kittens arrive.

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