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Why do cats move their kittens around?


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#1 Catsfriend

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Posted 06 October 2011 - 11:42 AM

This morning, I couldn't find our Russian kittens any more. I remembered that I woke up a few times during the night, because their mother was "massaging" me and was biting into my ear lap. Did she want to tell me something? When I went to check upon her kittens, they were gone. It took me 2 hours to finally find them behind a kitchen cupboard, in a rather dirty and definitely very unsuitable place. The queen has been trying several times before to carry her kittens away from the clean, darkened and cosy wardrobe-type accommodation where I put them right after birth, most often into the direction of her previous outdoor cage in our backyard, and I always brought them back. The wardrobe where they are supposed to stay is in my study, a quiet room where I can monitor them all the time throughout the day. The kittens will be soon 3 weeks old. I exchange their blankets for clean ones about every second day, and I weigh and handle the kittens daily. Is anything wrong about their accommodation? Am I disturbing them too often? Why else would the mother want to have her kittens in a dirty hiding place instead, on the hard wooden floor? She also doesn't seem too fond of being with her kittens except at nursing times, but rather keeps walking restlessly around the house and even has naps outside of her "kitten nest". Can anyone offer me an explanation of her behaviour?
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#2 Furrballz

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Posted 06 October 2011 - 12:41 PM

It is their instincts to keep moving the kittens This is why I ALWAYS crate my Queens and babies until the babies know where the litter trays is, and give Mum a break daily from the confinement. Just because we think its suitable, doesnt mean THEY do! lol

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#3 Heather Sharada

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Posted 06 October 2011 - 06:18 PM

When I was in India the cat that I befriended had a litter and the man in charge of the accomodation told me that she had come home the previous night having given birth somewhere. I asked how would they find them and he told me her habit was to move the kittens about 6 times and then bring them home when they were about 9 weeks old. So as TA says it is their instinct.....moving them means they avoid predators. I never used a crate - tried it once but the cat dragged the kitten back and forward in front of the door to the crate and ring barked their necks....They were ok but they had scabs around their necks so I never did it again. However I had one room in my house and it was there that the kittens stayed with their mum until they were 6 weeks old - then they spent time in my Kitty Condo outside learning to be very accurate with their litter tray and only at around the 8 weeks came inside for the last 2 to 3 weeks before going to be desexed and on to their new homes. They would try to move them but if the door was shut it was impossible. I did providde a couple of different places in the room where she could take them. I think sometimes they leave the kitten nursery box because it has an odour of the kittens - some wet the bed before they learn litter manners....and changing the bedding does not seem to satisfy the mums. It also seems to be around the 3 weeks that they get very stubborn about it. As you saw they don't always choose safe places or suitable places to stow them and I do know of a litter that died because they were inappropriately moved.....so keep a good eye on them. As to not wanting to be with them - that is also a bit common when the babies are starting to think about getting out of the box....mums want to teach them the next lessons.

#4 Guest_OldTom_*

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 12:38 AM

I'm thinking that mum wants to take them back to the place where she's used to - where she knows it's safe. As they're about 3 weeks old they may be robust enough to handle the shift. If you also think so, and it wouldn't put their welfare at risk, I'd be inclined to let her take them where she wants to - under your strict supervision of course. As with humans, who need time out from their offspring, it's not much different with cats to want time out. I've known some mother cats who will only be with their babies when she thinks it's time for them to feed once the babies are of a certain age. I must applaud you Romana, for taking the constructive criticism in stride over the past month or so. We were off to a rocky start but now (I believe) all understand that you are learning and are eager for advice and have adjusted your approach to get what you desire. Kudos. But I digress and take the thread away from it's topic :biggrin:

#5 Catsfriend

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 01:12 AM

:) Thanks for the flowers, OldTom, much appreciated. I guess the change in my style is due to a book which I have translated over the past month - 'The 100/0 Principle' by Al Ritter. Can be life-changing if you really absorb it. The book I am currently working on is not less powerful. It is called 'Restore Your Magnificence' by Dr Joe Rubino. But now we are definitely off topic... Good night!
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#6 kittenmitten

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 08:47 AM

agree with confining or crating them, these are pedigree kittens, and since you have already had experience of having a birman kitten having its ear bitten off by one of the rescue kittens with a previous litter, would strongly suggest that you have them confined so that movement all around the house (and guessing around the other cats you have indoors), while these kittens are so young, and not yet vaccinated, would be best.

#7 Heather Sharada

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 09:13 AM

Romana if she does not settle when you enclose her totally in one room with no other cats present - which I would try for a week or so - maybe you could put her back in her enclosure if provided she is on her own with her babies when they are 5 weeks but you need to be very observant. Watch that the kittens don't get chilled with a sudden weather change - I lost a kitten once because it chilled and I did not notice....also you might need to block the visuals from the enclosure next door so mum does not become unsettled. Make sure the kittens can't get their heads through the mesh squares and get stuck and make sure that she has a bed at floor level that is cave-like. Has she settled a bit yet.

#8 Catsfriend

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 10:51 AM

Yes, Heather, she is happy and settled at the moment - I think that is because I offered her a different place than where she was before, in a different bedroom, which she now shares with her friend and previous cagemate, the shy Black Russian queen who is expecting her kittens Wednesday next week. I keep the door to that room closed most of the time. I don't want to put the kittens outdoors, because we had a lot of rain in the last days, and the nights are still very cold, and the concrete floors of the cages are damp and cold, too, not good for kittens who are already trying to climb out of their box. And from the upper levels, the kittens could fall down and injure themselves. But the story that kittenmitten mentioned made me thinking whether I can leave the two queens together after the Black's birthgiving. (?) I don't want to move the Black queen, as it took quite a while for her to get used being indoors at all, and she is still quite shy, although she has improved: She doesn't run away any more when I just walk pass or come close to her without moving my hands, but she is still afraid from being touched. So, I will rather move the White queen again if necessary or recommended. @ Kittenmitten: Wow, you must have been watching my posts for a long time. Yes, the event with little 'Eary' more than two years ago was extremely distressing. It happened on the first day of his life and was done by an adult rescue cat who had kittens before in our home herself and was freshly spayed, and she stole him from the kittening box and wanted to eat him! I am very glad that 'Eary' found a particularly loving indoor-only home in Adelaide and has never had any issues due to his missing ear. But I certainly don't want to happen something like that ever again!
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#9 kittenmitten

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 02:23 PM

would certainly keep the litters seperate at this early stage

#10 ChocolateDots

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 04:47 PM

I don't crate mine either, well the kittens are in a large pen to help with litter training but the door is never closed so mum is free to wander the room. Usually by 5 weeks we pull the pen down. Like Heather I always over several different beds, I use large plastic storage boxes with a hold cut in the side, or plastic dog beds covered with a blanket. I change the bedding daily (twice daily to begin with). So long as she does tend to their needs with feeding and cleaning it's probably not too bad if mum spends time away. Perhaps for the next litter you can have her more accustomed to being inside well before the kittens are born.

#11 Heather Sharada

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Posted 08 October 2011 - 07:57 AM

Hmmm - if you are going to keep the two cats in the same room you need to offer a crate for the black girl. Even pedigree cats will steal kittens from other queens. I would not behaving those two girls in the same room at this stage unless one is in a playpen....by next week the first litter will be out of the nest. You already have the experience of the Birman with the damaged ear so you know it can happen. One of the olde r br eeders of Birmans who imported many great cats told me of her experience of coming home to find a row of five kitte n heads...the rest of the kittens had been eaten....so it can happen. I have combined weaned or almost weaned litters with friendly mums but these babies are going to be a month different in age....the bigger kittens can harm the smaller ones and also steal their milk bar.

#12 gazey

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Posted 09 October 2011 - 10:38 AM

Mothers with babies should be confined to a safe are, with their babies and no other cats. I am not talking about a crate but more like a bathroom, laundry, bedroom etc. A mother will move babies if they feel unsafe and by being in an enclosure as such they feel more secure. gazey
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#13 Catsfriend

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Posted 09 October 2011 - 02:24 PM

Okay, look what we have prepared for our queens and kittens today. This is normally my indoor isolation cage in a room not used by other cats, now ready for the Russian Black and Birman queens who are going to give birth next week: http://img638.images...solationcra.jpg How do you like it? Too small or just right? And this is, in a different room (same one as where the kittens are now) the box which we have prepared today for the 3 week old White x Blue Russian kittens (showing my daughter for size comparison): http://img268.images...gboxwithvic.jpg We used the bottom part of a gymnastics vault for the sloped walls of the enclosure. And here, below, the enclosures with the respective cats: http://img254.images...oriainkitte.jpg http://img577.images...teningcrate.jpg http://img254.images...annanursing.jpg Do you like them? Are they the right sizes? It would be great if you (other breeders) could post some pictures of your kittening boxes or crates or setups, so we can compare better and discuss the benefits of various solutions. Pictures say more than words!
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#14 Lee Lee

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Posted 09 October 2011 - 05:36 PM

QUOTE
How do you like it? Too small or just right?
For me this is too small..like Gazey I also house my queens with bubs either in the bathroom, laundry and last season when both those we occupied I used a deals direct enclosure which was a very good size. I have some of the plastic tubs from Cheap as Chips and cut out a hole big enough for the queen (also used as houses in the cattery). These are good as the queens like privacy and out of view from ppl and other cats...they are also great re cleaning. For housing and giving birth in I prefer a good sized cardboard box...cut a hole in one side and throw away when finished with. Attached File  Snowflake_and_crate_004.JPG   102.37KB   116 downloads
QUOTE
And here, below, the enclosures with the respective cats: http://img254.images...oriainkitte.jpg http://img577.images...teningcrate.jpg http://img254.images...annanursing.jpg Do you like them? Are they the right sizes?
I think if you are going to keep the girls in here...you need to drape a blanket over the top or put in boxes for them to hide...cats dont like being in the open when giving birth or with their young babies.

#15 kittenmitten

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Posted 10 October 2011 - 01:39 PM

for my queens, I have 2 of those cages joined together (the ones I have I can remove a side panel, so it is a long length) with the option of an upper and lower area. As suggested, it has a throw over the side of it, so that the queen has privacy, and being long in length, she can get a bit away from the kittens when she wants. For other than kittening and litters though, I do not use these pens, I have larger overnight areas for the queens

#16 Heather Sharada

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Posted 10 October 2011 - 09:14 PM

The wire crate is useful for the first week or 10 days but please only for one cat....two cats forced to have their kittens on tiers like that will not be comfortable for either queen. You can get puppy pens like this http://www.dealsdire...tal-dog-cage-1/ - and I used one with a piece of lino in the base - so it could be wiped clean and also a cardboard box on it's side inside it - and the whole thing was covered with a bedspread - this was my emergency kittening pen but I did not lock the mum in - the door was always open. I made a pen that was very successful from an old corner desk the kind that has a hatch over it. This had a removable washable carpet and of course had heaps of kiddies blankets and fleece and the hole in the front had a cover over it when the mum had kittens... Attached File  Bench_kitten_pen.made_from_corner_desk.JPG   29.35KB   105 downloads Normally I preferred just to have the large sized cardboard box used for packing and removals - they are about $10 new and can be thrown out when the litter is reared....but I also had seperate areas either enclosure that was quite large or a spare room so that the Queens were never confined. As mentioned elsewhere when I tried to keep cats in pens they rattled their babies along the door trying to take them womewhere else.

#17 Catsfriend

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Posted 12 October 2011 - 02:11 PM

Hello - thank you all for your pictures. Your suggestions are actually showing me that what I was using as a "kittening box" in the last few years was not all too bad at all! It is this accessory: IPB Image I have two of these containers. In the last few months I have been using them for travelling only (I have a large panel van), when i needed to keep several parties of cats apart from each other, as each of these boxes provides enough room for a sleeping place for a whole litter of kittens and a litter box. Now, I brought them back into our house. However, despite of all the different places I offered, my Russian Black queen has chosen the same place which almost every other cat before her had chosen, too - my daughter's wardrobe. My daughter has the annoying habit to never close wardrobe and cupboard and room doors... Well, so we have got 7 (!) Blue and Black Russian babies last night, a bit earlier than expected, and I wasted over $200 for an emergency vet consult because I was sure to feel one more little head in mum's belly 6 hours after the contractions had ceased. Still, I am surprised that she had such a big litter. Look - she really didn't look THAT huge two days ago: IPB Image IPB Image However, the wooden enclosure we have prepared for our older kittens works very well. Perfect setup I would say! And they are already walking around and discovering the world at 3 weeks of age, and making poo-poos and wee-wees everywhere.
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#18 Heather Sharada

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 08:28 AM

Congratulations on the new litter - my that is a lot of Russians at your place - just as well you have postponed that trip overseas....lol You didn't waste the money with the vet visit - you could just have been right as well and it is better to be sure. That bed looks useful as well. If the black girl is happy in your daughter's wardrobe and you can arrange the bottom of it so it is safe and cleanable why not leave her there but get your daughter to keep the door closed.....also you will need all her stuff. litter tray, water food etc in there. You will have to move them when they start to get active around 3 weeks but she will be happy until then. Inya moved a litter oncce so they were in a roll out drawer under a bed and she was so happy there I left her until they were almost 4 weeks old.

#19 Catsfriend

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 10:23 AM

Update: My White Russian queen still keeps moving the kittens around. It is a pain. Yesterday, I opened the door to the backyard for a few hours, and she carried their kittens outside into her previous outdoor cage THREE TIMES, and I carried them back every time again. This morning, I found only ONE of them deposited outside their enclosure, but in a really hidden place outside of their room (good that they have a good voice to call for help), while she was nursing happily the other 5 in their enclosure. When the door to her room is closed, she still moves them around inside that room: 2 may end up in the doll house, 2 in my washing basket, and 2 on top of the wardrobe - which actually may be quite dangerous for them. I am considering Heather's suggestion now to remove all furniture from that particular room to make it safe ... a big effort. No other of my mother cats has ever been so crazy about moving her kittens around like this one! IPB Image
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#20 Heather Sharada

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 11:42 AM

Actually you will love having a cat only room....just a couple of cat posts and a litter tray or two and if you have polished floors a carpet rug...and a bed or two. Have you got a large cardboard box that you can put on it's side and make a bit cave like by throwing an old blankeet over most of it - but see if she will find it herself. The cats had not been with you very long so this could be the reason she is feeling so unsettled.....please don't let her have access to the garden because she will still carry them back outside and they are a bit too young yet. Do you not have a screen door on the back door - this would allow the door to be open and yet keep her inside.

#21 stevemarker

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Posted 21 October 2011 - 07:23 AM

I think they want to make fun that's why cats moves around their kittens!

#22 mydoona

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 09:00 AM

I heard female cats move their kittens around so to hide them from the male cat, who will kill the kittens so he can mate with the female again, a female will not mate while nursing her kittens.

#23 Catsfriend

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 09:31 AM

QUOTE(mydoona @ Oct 23 2011, 08:30 AM) [snapback]41858[/snapback]
I heard female cats move their kittens around so to hide them from the male cat, who will kill the kittens so he can mate with the female again, a female will not mate while nursing her kittens.
Hi Mydoona, I am afraid that's just an old wives' tale. On other cat forums, I have read of nursing queens who started calling again within DAYS after giving birth, and in my neighbourhood people had both of their two mother cats pregnant again before their one and four kittens were weaned.That's why I couldn't take any of the mothers to the vet for spaying yet; it is sadly a never-ending story. I believe the only sure way to keep a female cat out of pregnancy is to keep her strictly indoors or in a safe enclosure, and not allow her to get in contact with any undesexed male over 4 months of age. Further, none of my male cats has ever shown any sign of aggression towards any kitten of any age. I was told that is normal, as a male can never know whether they are his own kits or not, so he will decide to better not harm them, in case they are. But that might be an old wives' tale, too, I do't know!
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#24 Heather Sharada

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 02:02 PM

Romana Toms can and sometimes do kill kittens - it guarrantees the Queen will call again soon and possibly removes excess kittens/ cats from his territory. I do know of a tom that actually broke in to a house through the screen window on the bathroom and killed a litter...devastating for the Birman breeder involved.

#25 ChocolateDots

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 06:10 PM

QUOTE(Catsfriend @ Oct 23 2011, 09:01 AM) [snapback]41860[/snapback]
I am afraid that's just an old wives' tale. On other cat forums, I have read of nursing queens who started calling again within DAYS after giving birth
Mine usually call when kittens are 4-5 weeks old, then again at 12 weeks. Though I have a girl at the moment with one kitten who is on her 2nd call and the baby is just 3 weeks old. I would guess that most breeders don't have their studs around the kittens, very sad situation that Heather describes.




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