Why Does Mother Cat Move Only One Kitten?

Why Does Mother Cat Move Only One Kitten?

Can’t wait to see and hold the newborn kittens of your pet cat? Well, you may have to be patient for a while. Mama cats are very sensitive when it comes to their young and socializing with them too soon may prompt her to move her young elsewhere.

But why does mother cat move only one kitten? The reason is, she may have sensed that something is wrong with it, thus, she will separate it to save the rest of the newborns. However, this is not the only possible reason why the mama cat moves only one kitten. Let’s find out more about this unique mother cat behavior. 

Why does the mother cat move only one kitten 

Just like you, a mama cat feels excited and anxious to care for her young. Unfortunately, not everything may turn out just right. While pet owners try their best to prepare a comfortable nesting place for the mama cat and kittens, sometimes, the mama cat disapproves of it and ends up moving her newborns to another location. 

Here are the common reasons why a mama cat moves only one kitten:

1. She does not like the place where she originally gave birth to her young.

A major reason why a mother cat will move her newborn to other areas in the house is that there’s so much distraction and noise around. There may be kids or people around attempting to peep in and look at the newborns. This can cause a lot of stress for the mama cat when she needs to rest and heal after giving birth. So, she may move one kitten to another location, such as under the bed or inside a cabinet.

Normally, she will only move one kitten initially to the new area and then will also bring in the others after some time. Cat experts advise that a mama cat and her newborns should not be disturbed and socialization should not begin until after day 8 after delivery. 

2. She is separating the kitten because something is wrong with it.

Mama cats are sensitive and perceptive. They instinctively know if something is wrong with one of their newborns, whether it’s a birth defect or a sickness that could also endanger the rest of the kittens. The moment the mama cat realizes this, she may move the kitten away and separate it from the rest. In an extreme case this may even lead to the mother cat eating their kitten.

3. She may move and abandon a kitten because the litter is too big.

This is quite rare but sometimes, a mama cat will separate and abandon one kitten because there are too many kittens and not enough milk to feed them all. She may decide to move the kitten away after the day she gave birth. 

4. She is disoriented and confused after giving birth. 

Giving birth can take a toll on a mama cat’s physical and mental well-being. Some felines may have a hard time adjusting to their current situation, and as a result,  they may act or behave strangely. A disoriented mama cat may suddenly take a kitten out from the nesting place and put it in another area even if it’s perfectly healthy.  

What to do if the mother cat separates one kitten?

Here is what you can do should the mother cat separate a kitten from the rest of the newborns.

Take the kitten to somewhere safe and warm. 

Take the abandoned kitten to somewhere safe and keep it warm by placing a blanket. In some instances, the mama cat may come back, bringing along the rest of the newborns. 

Bring it back to the mother.

If the mother does not come back to the kitten, keep a close eye on the kitten to make sure that it is okay. After around 12 hours, if you notice that there is nothing wrong with the kitten, you could attempt to bring it back to the mama cat. Observe closely how the mother interacts with the returned kitten. If she is still not accepting the kitten, such as dragging or moving it away again, then you should remove it and keep it warm and safe. 

Take it to your vet. 

Once you see that the mother cat is abandoning the kitten and has no plan of placing it back along with the rest, you should take the kitten to your vet immediately. By doing so, your vet will be able to do the necessary tests and check-ups.  You may also have to discuss with your vet on the necessary care arrangements for the kitten.

Other reasons why a mother cat moves her kittens 

A mama cat tends to move her kittens to another area in your home because the present one is too noisy, has too much foot traffic, or have kids, and people hovering around. She may also be moving her young because of some other reasons. Here are some just of them:

To put off predators. 

Mama cats have the instinct of protecting their young from the predators of the wild even though they are already domesticated. Kittens are small, helpless, and easy prey to predators like wild animals. This is what goes on in a mama cat’s mind,as part of her ingrained instincts. So, to put off predators, she moves the kittens to another area, to throw off their scent.

She’s looking for a cleaner nest for her kittens 

Cats are very particular with scents and mama cats are no exception to this. If there’s something wrong with the smells in the nesting place she shares with her kittens, such as unusual odors, she will instinctively look for a cleaner place for them

She found a safe and dark place for her newborns. 

Should a mama cat discover another area in the house where it is dark or dimly-lit and safe for her kittens, she might decide to move them. 


It is normal for pet parents like you to worry if you notice that the mama cat moves and separates one kitten. She may have done it because there’s something wrong with it and she has to save the rest of the litter. It may also be because there are too many kittens and she can not feed them all or that she’s confused and disoriented.

3 thoughts on “Why Does Mother Cat Move Only One Kitten?”

  1. My daughter’s cat had four kittens about free three and a half weeks ago one was stillborn and one all the sudden died last week and we lost another one yesterday y why is this happening they were okay they were meowing there were eating so we thought there’s one left the one that she’s favor from the beginning I don’t understand what happened the two that died just became very tired and week I tried CPR yesterday and it didn’t work he died in my hands. Why all the sudden almost 4 Weeks Later are these kittens dying?

  2. I had a cat that her kittens did the same thing …. I took to vet….everyday one would die …he said it was something wrong with them but couldn’t tell what without further testing but he was sure all would die anyhow..
    Something wrong on inside

  3. My cat delivered 4 kittens, they are 4 weeks old, one of them had a little accident and was admitted in the hospital for 2 nights. On his return back home the mother cat is smelling him alot and grabbing him from his neck (she never does that with any of her kittens before) and taking him away and biting him too. We have separated the kitten from the mother, we’re afraid if she would harm him in anyway. But if anybody could help me with this problem it would be really nice. The kitten has a spinal injury, so he cant be held from the neck like that.

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