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Stray Cat Lost Her Kittens? (What Now?)

If you have noticed that a stray cat is without her kittens you may be concerned and wondering what you, if anything, you can do…

What can I do if a stray cat has lost its kittens?

The first to do is to relax a little. The odds are, mom knows EXACTLY where her kittens are, and has simply moved and hidden them for safety. If she is coming to you and meowing then she might just be hoping that you’ll feed her and then she’ll have an easier time feeding her kittens.

Now, if you are pretty sure that she has lost them, if she spends a lot of time around your house then you should check places nearby to help the mom. Under the porch, for instance, or in some thick bushes nearby are some good places to start.

You might also contact animal services, to make sure that they haven’t picked up kittens in the area recently. Keep in mind, however, that there is also a possibility that the kittens didn’t make it.

You could consider adopting the cat or animal services may be able to provide you with free traps, so that can catch her and try to rehome her if the situation carries on long enough that you are sure that the kittens are gone. In most cases, however, mom knows where they are and is just looking for a meal.

Is it normal for a stray cat to lose its kittens?

A white and grey kitten staring.

A white and grey kitten is staring.

No, it is quite uncommon, although you should keep in mind that it’s a different world outside and vulnerable kittens can sometimes wander off and get harmed in the process. In most cases, however, the mom will simply hide the kittens and always know exactly where they are.

If you can’t seem to find them, you can also check with Animal services to see if kittens were collected recently in your area, but the odds are that the mom has simply hidden them for their safety.

Why might a stray cat lose her kittens?

If she has lost the kittens, then animal services may have picked them up, or the kittens may have wandered from the nest and come to harm. In rare cases, the mom may even abandon kittens, if she is a new parent and stressed, if food is insufficient, or if some kittens were born sickly.

That said, it’s rare for a mom to forget where the kittens were. Likely they were ill or picked up by animal services or even a concerned neighbor.

Can I adopt a stray kitten?

Yes, you can certainly adopt a stray kitten, but you want to make sure that it has been abandoned by checking the area nearby. Sometimes kittens get curious and wander away from the litter, quickly becoming lost afterward. Mom will generally look for them and if you find the litter then you can return them.

If you DO adopt the kitten, you’ll need to bring them to the vet to see if they are old enough for their shots and you’ll need to know if they will need nursing or are already equipped to eat solids.

What are the risks of adopting a stray kitten?

If the kitten is too young to be weaned, then it will require a lot of nursing attention. For instance, a 1-week-old kitten needs to feed every 2 to 3 hours. There is also a possibility of codependency if the kitten left before they could learn socialization.

A final concern is their health and hygiene. You’ll need to bring the kitten into the vet for a checkup to make sure that they are in good health and to schedule the shots that they will need later to become vaccinated and prepared for good health in their new life with you.

What are the benefits of adopting a stray kitten?

A person touching a black and white kitten that is  lying on a white surface.

A person touching a black and white kitten that is lying on a white surface.

There are several benefits to adopting a stray kitten. For one thing, you’ll have a very strong bond, as the kitten will know that you’ve given them a home and they’ll always remember this.

Adopting a stray also is much better than buying a kitten, as there are a lot of strays already that need a home and you’re helping with this problem.

You can further help by making sure that they are spayed or neutered so that more strays don’t end up on the streets needing homes and best of all, you will have the friendship of a special kitten and they’ll have yours for hopefully many happy years to come.

What happens if a cat loses her kittens?

If your cat loses her kittens to illness, then she may well mourn them and could be depressed for a few weeks before she gets back to normal. You can help with lots of extra love and attention.

You should also check mom’s nipples for redness, as the untimely loss of kittens can sometimes lead to swelling and even mastitis, a condition which you will need your vet to help you with. Beyond these things, just make sure mom is well fed and watered and give her time.

She’ll recover in time, but you’ll need to be patient and let her mourn.

Will a stray cat come back for her kittens?

In most cases, yes, but if she has singled out one kitten and keeps moving it away from the litter then she might be abandoning it. While it’s rare, moms will sometimes abandon their kittens out of stress, scarcity of food, or even an illness that the kitten has which might not be visibly apparent.

If you believe this to be the case, then contact a vet immediately, as you will likely need to nurse the kitten regularly if it is going to survive.

Do cats know when their kitten dies?

Yes, cats know when their kittens die, and will typically move the dead kitten away from the rest and sometimes even try to bury it, as they seem to instinctively know that the dead kitten is a potential health issue.

Cats also exhibit mourning behavior, becoming lethargic, eating little or even skipping meals, and being less interactive than usual for a period of 2 to 3 weeks. This is normal, though you can help by providing a little extra love and attention to help your cat through this difficult time.

Do mother cats mourn kittens?

Cats will mourn for some time, sometimes as much as 2 – 3 weeks, though they are also hardwired to leave their litter at a certain age and to ‘forget’ about their kittens eventually.

While they can tell that they are related by smelling the kittens later, when they’ve grown up, Mother cats have an instinct to be great mothers until it’s time to ‘kick those kittens out of the nest’ and after that to move on with their lives.

This can seem a little weird from a human perspective, but that’s about the size of it – Mom raises them to be independent, and then she’s simply wired to enforce it by sending them out on their own!

Lindsey Browlingdon