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Why is my cat ignoring her newborn kittens?

If you have noticed that your cat is ignoring her newborn you may be concerned and looking for reasons why…

Why is my cat ignoring her newborn kittens?

When a mother is ignoring her kittens, several potential scenarios may be leading to this behavior including health issues, immaturity, and a large litter. In some cases, it could be because of a sick or deformed kitten.

Is it normal for a cat to ignore her kittens?

Two black and white kittens inside a wooden container.

Two black and white kittens inside a wooden container.

No, it is not normal for a cat to ignore her kittens, so, if you see this, it needs your immediate attention.

While it is hard for us to witness a new mother ignoring her newborn kittens, there are some normal reasons and more serious reasons as to why she is behaving this way. Like any new mother, she may need a little bit of alone time to regain her strength and it can be normal for her to ignore her kittens from time to time.

While some cats are naturally doting on their kittens, this isn’t the case for all mothers. For instance, some mothers are simply not mature enough and haven’t yet developed their maternal instincts. Therefore, it is normal for the mother to leave the kittens alone for periods or to not be overly affectionate.

Generally, there is no need to panic as long as she returns to the litter every few hours for feeding for the first three weeks. However, if you notice that she is ignoring them for too long, there may be a need to intervene or call the vet to ensure that the kittens are getting the sustenance they require.

What can I do to prevent my cat from ignoring her kittens?

If you feel that your cat is ignoring her kittens too much, you can try to improve the connection between them. There are several things you can try including:

  1. Ensure the mother is eating nutritious food.
  2. Keep the litter, food, and water close by so that she doesn’t need to leave the area.
  3. Keep the mother and kittens in an enclosed space.
  4. Ensure the kittens are with the mother at night.
  5. Make sure the nesting space is quiet and comfortable.
  6. Avoid disturbing the mother or the kittens when they are feeding.

Should I take care of the kittens if my cat won’t?

A white kitten being fed milk by a person.

A white kitten being fed milk by a person.

Yes. If your cat is feeding her kittens occasionally, but not every 3-4 hours, you could try bottle feeding to supplement their diet with kitten formula.

If you are concerned that they are not getting any attention from the mother, then, it is always best to call your vet and get advice right away as they can give you detailed instructions for your exact scenario.

Most pet suppliers will have kitten milk replacement or “KMR” which comes in small cartons or cans. You should avoid using other milk or human baby formula which is not nutritionally suitable for the kitten.

Using a small feeding bottle, you can feed the kittens while they are laying on their bellies every 2 hours. Warm the formula and administer about 3-5 ml (about a teaspoon) of milk to each kitten per feeding. If the kitten stops suckling or has milk come out of its nose you should stop feeding as they are full.

As the kittens grow, the amount of required food will increase so be sure to learn more from your vet.

Why do mother cats reject their kittens?

If the mother cat has rejected her kittens, it may be because she has not developed her mothering instincts. Generally, a cat reaches sexual maturity around 6 months, however, they can become pregnant at only 4 months.

A very young cat may experience health issues as they are still growing themselves and therefore, they may not attend to their new kittens. In other cases, some cats may just not be interested in being a mother or they may be ill and require help themselves.

What are the signs that your cat is rejecting its kittens?

If you notice that she isn’t feeding her kittens right away and consistently every few hours, it is a sign that she may be rejecting them.

You may notice her single out one or more kittens by isolating them from the litter or hissing or biting them.

What do you do when a mother cat rejects her kittens?

If the mother has rejected a single kitten, it may be because the kitten is cold to the touch. You can try warming the kitten with a hot water bottle wrapped in a cloth and gently massaging it.

Reintroduce the warmed kitten to the mother to see if she accepts the kitten. If this isn’t the case or doesn’t work, it is important to call your vet right away to get advice on how to care for the kittens.

How long can newborn kittens go without eating?

Generally, kittens should be fed every 3 hours. Newborn kittens can survive about 12 hours without their mother’s milk. Once they are a bit older, they may survive up to four days.

How do I know if my cat is feeding her kittens?

Kittens will generally have full round bellies after feeding sessions and will promptly fall asleep. Healthy kittens should be increasing in size by about 7-10 grams every day. You can weigh them daily to ensure that they are getting enough food.

How do I know if my newborn kitten is dying?

If you notice the kitten rapidly becomes ill or unresponsive, it may have “Fading Kitten Syndrome” that may be caused by hypothermia (being too cold) or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar from lack of food).

They may feel cold to the touch, be unresponsive, lethargic, have labored breathing, or excessively vocalizing. If your kitten is experiencing these symptoms, it may be dying and need attention right away.

Call your vet immediately for advice if your think your kitten is experiencing Fading Kitten Syndrome. You can also try to warm up the kitten by wrapping it in a towel or using a heating pad or hot water bottle.

You can also increase its blood sugar by applying a Karo syrup, pancake syrup, or sugar water along its gums every three minutes. If low blood sugar is the cause, you should see the kitten perk up in approximately 20 minutes.

Lindsey Browlingdon