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Why Is My Cat Growling After Giving Birth?

If you have noticed that your cat is growling after giving birth then you may be wondering why and if you need to do anything about it…

Why is my cat growling after giving birth?

Motherhood changes people and animals alike, and your formerly happy-go-lucky kitty is quite likely to become a defense and possibly even aggressive about her personal space. Don’t worry – usually, mom will calm down, but the best thing that you can do for now is to give her some space with her new kittens.

The newborns will need to eat every 2 – 4 hours and the mom will also be grooming them and keeping them from wandering away from her nest.

Needless to say, this is already stressful, and her instincts are screaming at her to protect her young. Put food and water nearby, along with a clean litter box, and give mom some space for now.

What exactly is cat growling?

A gray and black cat standing and staring fiercely.

A gray and black cat standing and staring fiercely.

Growling starts as a low, bass rumble, and can quickly go to a screeching high pitch if the cat is about to strike or is simply trying to warn you away. Cats and dogs both growl and the message is always the same – ‘don’t mess with me, or you’re going to regret it’!

How should my cat act after giving birth?

Your cat is going to be stressed and if the nest is in a public area where lots of people and possibly other animals in the house may pass, then likely she will either become overprotective or she might move her kittens.

During this time, she might behave in a way that you are used to, but it’s more likely that she’ll be very antisocial, growling or hissing is you get too close to her nest and her kittens.

Make sure that she has plenty of food and water nearby, along with a clean litter box, and if she is obviously ‘friendly but stressed’, consider making her a new nest in the quietest corner of the house. Cut a cardboard box so that the walls are high enough to keep the kittens from wandering and line it with newspaper.

This will give her a less stressful place to tend to her young and she will likely be much less defensive and aggressive in the bargain!

Should I be concerned with my cat growling?

If your cat is growling, then leave her alone. A growl is always a warning and with a kitten involved, you might well get a nasty scratch for your troubles if you don’t leave her personal space. This behavior shouldn’t be a cause for worry, however, as it is instinctive and quite common.

Motherhood makes your kitty fierce, be it indoors or outdoors, as this is an instinctive drive to protect her young. Try to make the area around her nest as stress-free as possible and make sure that she can easily get to the food, water, and litter by putting the bowls and her box nearby.

Mom will usually calm down in a week or so, but for now, her only focus is feeding her kittens and ensuring that they are completely safe.

Why is my cat stressed after giving birth?

Giving birth is stressful, especially when you consider that cats have an average of 4 to 6 kittens per litter (although the first litter is often 2 to 3). The newborns need to be fed, typically every 2 -4 hours, and they can’t even potty on their own yet. During this time, your cat’s stress levels will be very high.

Just make sure that her needs are met and that she doesn’t need to go far from her nest. Food, water, and her littler box should be close by, and you’ll want to refrain from handling her kittens (other than a quick peek) until they are at least 2 weeks old.

Too much handling may result in an angry, aggressive mom, or she might even hide her kittens somewhere else in the night. Right now, she just needs a little space, because motherhood is hard work!

How long does maternal aggression last in cats?

It depends, but typically mom will be quite a bit calmer by the time the kittens are 2 weeks of age. Before this time, other than taking a quick peek at a kitten up-close (because who can resist?), you should leave the little ones alone.

It will ultimately depend on the individual cat, however, and some cats will let you handle their young right away, while others might be quite aggressive if you get near them until the kittens are ready to come to you themselves.

Don’t punish your cat for this –it’s only natural to protect your young – and with a little patience, you’ll be able to handle the kittens soon enough.

How long after a cat has kittens can you touch them?

A gray cat getting stroked.

A gray cat getting stroked.

You can touch them when they are newborns and even pick them up, but don’t hold them for very long. Newborn kittens are fragile and not only that, they will be eating every 2 -4 hours (usually every 2 the first week) and too much handling can stress the mom and the kitten might accidentally miss a feeding.

Once they are two weeks of age, their eyes will start opening, and this is the best time to handle them and start socializing the little kittens. Play with them, get to know them, and introduce them to the rest of the family, just make sure that it is completely supervised if children are involved.

Try to keep sessions brief, with 10 to 15 minutes at a time being optimal, unless you are close enough to mom to make sure that you can put the kitten back when it’s feeding time or when they get upset and want to go back to their mother.

Should I clean my cat after she gives birth?

No, you should not clean your cat immediately after she has given birth. Mom should be quite capable of grooming herself at this time, although you can clean her after 2 to 3 days have passed if she is receptive to this. If she doesn’t like it idea, it’s best to let her have her way.

Right now mom is very stressed, dealing with her new kittens, and as cats are also very scent-driven, changing her scent from ‘cat smell’  to ‘cat shampoo’ right now is just going to add extra stress for her. Give her a little space and see how she feels about the idea in 2- 3 days or even a week.

Do a cat’s personality change after giving birth?

Your cat’s behavior may or may not change, but it’s more likely that it will. Your cat is naturally going to be more protective of her young and possibly even distrustful of you, no matter how strong of a bond you’ve had before the kittens arrived.

Don’t worry – most cats will relax after a few days and usually, the longest that they will be so defensive will be 2 to 3 weeks at the most. Once your cat knows that you are not a danger to their kittens, you’ll start seeing them behaving a bit more like the kitty that you know!

Can I move my cat while she’s giving birth?

No. Once your cat is giving birth to her kittens, you’ll need to leave her alone. Trying to move her is going to stress her unduly and she might even become aggressive.

What you CAN do is build a nice, quiet nest for her, with a box that you’ve cut the walls short in, so that kittens can’t easily wander out but mom can get in. Line this with plastic on the bottom and newspapers layered over it, and you have a comfy, quiet, and easy-to-clean space for the new mother.

If she doesn’t want to move them after her kittens have all been born, that’s okay, just make sure that her litter box is clean and ready and that she has plenty of food and water close to her nest so that she won’t worry about her kittens when she needs these things.

Lindsey Browlingdon