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How Long Do Cats Hide Their Kittens?

If your cat has had kittens and seems to be hiding them, you may be wondering how long this will go on…

How long do cats hide their kittens?

The Mom cat is going to hide those kittens until she feels comfortable – however long that takes. The best thing that you can do is to prepare a ‘nest’ in the quietest part of the house, lure mom over with treats, and see if it ‘sticks’.

Cut a cardboard box so that the walls are low enough that mom can easily get in and out, but high enough to keep kittens from wandering. Line this with plastic and put some newspaper on top and you’ve got an easy-to-clean nest that hopefully mom will settle on and keep her kittens in without moving them again.

Why do cats hide their kittens?

A litter of kitten on a white textile.

A litter of kittens on a white textile.

Cats hide their kittens to feel safe. If several people are coming in and out of the house or simply a lot of activity from you and your family, then mom might be worried that a kitten will get trampled or otherwise harmed.

This can also occur if you are handling the kittens too much. Mom moves them, in hope that you’ll leave them alone, and this is actually what she should do. Kittens need regular feedings, especially when they are young, with 1-week-old kittens needing milk every 2 to 3 hours.

So, if you’re handling them, then give mom a little space by leaving them alone for a while. This should reduce mom’s stress and she’ll stop hiding the kittens from you.

How do I stop my cat from hiding her kittens?

The best way to stop mom from moving her kittens is to prepare a nest box and place it somewhere warm, dark, and quiet. You’ll also need to resist the urge to play with the kittens so much – this can stress out their mom and she’ll hide them as a result.

If the mom is only moving one or two kittens, however, then they may be ill and she is trying to remove them from the litter. If you believe that this is the case, check with your vet immediately, as you may need to nurse the rejected kittens on your own if they are going to have a chance at survival.

How do you find where your cat hid her kittens?

If you have an indoor cat, look under beds and in closets, as these are the most common spots where mom will hide her kittens. If you have an outdoor kitty, then you might check the garage and under the porch, as these are the most popular spots when a cat has kittens and wants to stay close to home.

If you live in the country, barn lofts are comfortable spots that mom feels very safe in, and in the absence of outside buildings like this, check bushes close to the house – mother cats tend to find a spot that is hidden, but close to where they are regularly fed.

Is it OK to touch a newborn kitten?

A black kitten being held by a person.

A black kitten is being held by a person.

Yes, it’s okay, but don’t overdo it. A quick check can help you to see that the kitten has a full belly and that they seem to be healthy, but you shouldn’t handle them much beyond this.

During the first week of life, those kittens need to feed by their mom every 2 to 3 hours, so prolonged time away could cause them not to get enough milk, and the milk is vital to healthy development.

Waiting until the kittens are a few weeks old before any regular play is a much better option and will stress mom less.

Could a mother cat (Queen) reject a kitten touched by me?

No, the Queen isn’t going to reject her kittens just because you’ve touched them. Even though you will leave your scent on them, the mom is going to easily identify her kitten’s scent, though she might well hide the kittens from you as a result of the handling.

If the mom is rejecting any kittens, then more likely they are ill, and you may need to nurse them yourself. Check with your vet if a mom seems to be singling out one kitten and moving it away – you’ll probably need to take over with a strict schedule and some kitten formula.

Is it normal for cats to hide their kittens?

Yes, it is normal for cats to hide their kittens, and there are a few specific reasons why they do this. Mom may be hiding from dad, for instance, as she needs time to recover from giving birth and his ‘attentions’ during this time could lead to conflict. Mom also hides kittens for privacy, especially if they are overhandled.

Finally, if there is too much noise or light or if a spot simply isn’t warm enough, then mom might well relocate the kittens somewhere safer, quieter, and more comfortable.

How many kittens usually survive in a litter?

The mortality rate for kittens (and this is only an estimate) is considered to be around 15% to 30%. What this means is that, on average, one kitten out of every litter is not going to make it.

Mom can have anywhere from 4 to 12 kittens, so these are pretty good odds, and in some cases, ALL of the kittens will be fine. Make sure mom has a nest that is quiet, warm, and secluded, and this will help to increase the odds that all of the kittens grow up to be adults.

Why won’t my cat stay with her newborn kittens?

If mom won’t stay with her kittens, it’s time to get the vet involved. Sometimes health conditions, such as mastitis, can make it so that mom is unable to nurse her kittens or so that it is very painful for her to do so.

Malnutrition can also cause this, so make sure that her food, water, and a clean litter box are always located close to the nest for easy access – especially if you have other animals in the house that might be eating more than their fair share of the food.

Aside from this, make sure that mom has plenty of quiet near her nest and that the kittens aren’t being constantly handled. Loud noises and people playing with her kittens all of the time can stress mom out and cause her to move away from her kittens, hoping to hide them when you leave.

How do you know if your cat is rejecting her kittens?

If the mom is refusing to feed certain kittens or constantly moving them away, then she is likely rejecting them and they may be ill. Part of this is their temperature.

If one or more of the kittens are cold, you can sometimes warm them with a wrapped hot water bottle and mom will then allow them to nurse, but it’s best to get vet assistance NOW. Kittens need to nurse on a regular schedule and in the first week, they need to feed every 2 to 3 hours to survive.

Your vet can help to determine if mom is rejecting them and give you a nursing schedule if this is the case.

Lindsey Browlingdon