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Why does my cat that just had kittens keeps pulling one kitten out of the nest?

Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra – Hello….My cat just had kittens. They are almost 2 days old. This morning I noticed she took one of the kittens and moved it away from the rest of the kittens. I then later put the kitten back with the rest of the litter. Then she did it again. I found her away from them again. I brought the lost kitten back to her again. Is there any reason why you think the mother cat keeps separating the one kitten out of the litter?

Sherri Tavares


Hi – thanks for your email. You wrote that your cat that had kittens 2 days ago keeps separating/removing one kitten from her nest. I don’t know for sure why she is doing this but have commonly seen cats do this when they sense there is something “wrong” with the kitten. Many kittens born will die. Many have underlying health problems. About 20 to 40 percent of all kittens born will not survive past 12 weeks of age. After reaching 12 weeks, most kittens will continue to grow and develop. I have seen this happen in some cats with kittens and there is nothing wrong with the kitten and we don’t know why.

If the mother is not allowing him to nurse – you may need to feed him. Please read this article on Orphan Kittens that has tips on how to feed. This is important. If you don’t do this, he will die. It is also important to keep the kitten warm, dry and stimulate him or her to go to the bathroom if the mother is not. Read the Orphan Kitten article – this should help you.

An article that might be helpful to you is Fading Kitten Syndrome

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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