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Why Doesn’t My Cat Sleep With Her Kittens?

If you have noticed that your cat is not sleeping with her kittens you may be concerned and wondering why…

Why Doesn’t My Cat Sleep With Her Kittens?

Sometimes mother cats reject their kittens, but it may be that the mother is just nervous about the location or that her instincts to respond to the mewling kittens simply ‘haven’t kicked in yet’.

So, now you know. But, what should you do? Should this be happening? When do mother cats normally stop feeding their kittens? Keep reading for these answers, and much more…

What should I do if my cat doesn’t sleep with its kittens?

A kitty litter on a white pillow.

A kitty litter on a white pillow.

Try relocating the mother and the kittens (wear gloves, in case mom suddenly gets protective) to an isolated portion of the house. If the area where she currently is happens to be highly trafficked or simply too loud, then your cat might well be stressed out.

Isolating her with the kittens is the first step. Make sure that she has good food as well as nursing the kittens will take a lot out of her, and invest in some kitten formula in the case that she is not nursing all of the kittens. With isolation, the mother should feel safer, and this will help immensely.

Should my cat be sleeping with its kittens?

Two orange cats lying on top of eachother.

Two orange cats lying on top of eachother.

Sleeping a small distance away is actually ideal. When they are young, it’s quite easy for mom to roll over on a kitten by accident and to smother the poor baby. If the mother is feeding them, but simply not sleeping with them, then this is okay.

It looks a little weird, but don’t worry – this is actually much safer for the kittens and as long as she is nursing them, then everything should be okay.

Do mother cats miss their kittens when they are gone?

Yes, mothers certainly miss their kittens, and if you happen to be playing with one and it cries out, she might well come and give you a ‘stare’. That said, the process of raising healthy kittens is very draining on the mother, so don’t be surprised if she moves away to get a little alone time.

This is completely normal, as the mother can get overwhelmed, but she should go back to her kittens soon to make sure that they are eating and that they are okay.

When do mother cats stop feeding their kittens?

That depends on the mother. Typically, the kittens will be able to eat solids and be fully weaned by 8 weeks of age. At this point, her milk will generally start to dry up, although some mothers have been known to keep feeding their kittens until they are up to 12 weeks of age.

Keep some kitten formula handy, just in case the mother rejects a kitten or if she stops nursing them earlier, say within a 4 to 6 week period.

If this happens, then supplementing their diet with milk and slowly weaning to solids by the 8 week time mark is your best chance of ensuring that most or all of the kittens survive.

What should I do if my mother cat can’t nurse?

If the mother cannot nurse her kittens then there may be a number of reasons for this. Call your vet first before attempting a stressful vet visit. Your cat is quite stressed right now, so it’s best to ask for advice on the phone first.

The vet can help you to determine the reason why the mother isn’t nursing her kittens and this can help to correct the issue. It may well be that you will need to nurse the kittens yourself, at least until things get better with the mother, in which case you will need to stock up on kitten formula.

Kittens are usually not ready to fully digest solids until 8 weeks of age, so if you need to help nurse them, then the feeding schedule is every 2 to 3 hours for kittens under a week old, and 2 weeks old and above you must feed them every 4 to 6 hours.

Is it OK for a mother cat to ignore her kittens?

It depends on the situation. If the mother is not nursing the kittens, then no, this is not a good thing and you will likely need to step in to help feed the little ones until they can eat solid foods on their own.

Also, if the mother actually attacks the kittens, then you will need to isolate them and raise them in this scenario as well.

If the mother is nursing the kittens, but spending a lot of time away from them, then this is okay. Just take a note of the schedule.

She should be feeding kittens every 2 to 3 hours if they are less than a week old, every 4 to 6 hours if they are older. By 8 weeks of age, they should be able to eat solids on their own.

You can try gently moving the mother closer to her kittens to help encourage feedings and you should consider giving them a quiet space in the house – sometimes if there is too much noise, the mother becomes overstressed, and a quiet place to rear her young can be an enormous help.

What are the signs of a cat rejecting her kittens?

If you notice that the cat is moving a specific kitten or kittens away, then she might well be rejecting them.

If, however, she has simply stopped nursing the kittens at around 4 weeks of age, then this is completely normal – the mother will wean them between 4 to 8 weeks of age and they should be able to start with solids.

If the mother won’t get close to any of the kittens or is even isolating one of them, be sure to check with your vet for the best next steps. You will likely need to nurse the kittens yourself, but a vet checkup may be a good idea to see why the mother is rejecting her young.

Why is my cat bringing her kittens to me?

It could be that she is rejecting certain kittens and you might need to help to nurse them with kitten formula. That said, often when this occurs, the mother is simply moving her kittens and wants to be closer to you.

Try preparing a space nearby where the mother can be close to you. You might consider checking into some of the fancier cat foods as well. The mother will need a lot of nutrients to nurse these kittens.

Aside from this, have some formula stocked and handy. It may be that bringing the kittens is her way of asking for help and if you have formula then you can help to nurse the kittens so that all of them may survive.

Why is my cat bringing kittens to my bed?

It might well be that your cat just wants to relocate the kittens and your bed is an awfully soft and comfortable spot. Try making a cat box close to the bed, where the mother can easily see you when you are there, and put some comfortable bedding inside.

This compromise will generally be well-received and should help your cat to feel a little safer and less stressed because you are close and she is more comfortable.

Should I take a litter of kittens I find to a shelter?

No, if you find abandoned kittens outside, the odds are that they have not really been abandoned. Check if the area is clean and you can feel the bellies of the kittens and take note of their body temperature – just handle them as little as possible.

If you feel that their bellies are full, mom may well be nearby and still taking care of them. Shelters typically don’t have the resources to take care of kittens, so the mom is their best for survival. Furthermore, if you take the kittens away, the mom, then she will go back into heat and there will be new kittens!

If the kittens feel cold, however, then they may well have been abandoned and need your help, but if they are warm then it’s best to assume that mom is coming back and simply out hunting her dinner.

Lindsey Browlingdon