How Long Do Mother Cats Leave Their Kittens Alone?

A mother cat does not leave her kittens for long when they are that young. Mother cats will make sure their kittens are safe and warm during these critical first weeks of life. If a mother cat leaves her kittens too soon, she could be putting them at risk of illness or death by exposure to the elements.

A kitten cannot regulate their body temperature until after 2-3 weeks, leaving them vulnerable to becoming hypothermic if not with their mom. Cats are also particularly susceptible to infection during this time because their immune systems are still developing

A mother cat can leave their newborn kittens at 10-12 Weeks of Age. However, most mothers return before leaving their kittens overnight. This means it may take some time to notice whether or not the mother cat is away from her kittens for too long. Before going further, let’s find out the reasons why mommy cats leave their kittens.

Reasons Cats Leave Their Kittens

Reasons Cats Leave Their Kittens 

Cats don’t leave their kittens for long when they are that young. But, unfortunately, there can be several reasons for a cat to leave her kittens. Here are some of them.

Mamma Cat May Be Out Hunting for Food

Mamma Cat May Be Out Hunting for Food

If you find a litter of stray or feral kittens, their mother is likely still out looking for food. A mother cat might leave the safety and warmth of her kittens to search for better hunting grounds or more prey. She will also seek out shelter during rainstorms and extreme weather conditions.

A mother cat may also be nursing another litter at this time, meaning she has very little time to feed and care for her existing garbage and must leave them alone while searching for food. If you find a kitten alone and appears sickly, abandoned, or injured, it is best to take them to your veterinarian right away.

Mama Cat Looking for New Place

Mama Cat Looking for New Place

Sometimes mommy cats may be looking for a new place to live. She might not have been able to find a good place with a warm, dry shelter for her and her kittens, or she may have trouble competing with other cats that already inhabit the area. If there is more than one cat in your home, a mother cat may also be looking for a quiet space away from the other cats to care for her kittens.

Lack Of Experience

Lack Of Experience

Newborn cat babies have a very low survival rate, especially if their mother is inexperienced. This means that mother cats may instinctively leave the safety of the nest, so they aren’t at risk of getting hurt. Mother cats will first try to teach their kittens to find food and shelter before abandoning them altogether.

Poor Kitten Health

Poor Kitten Health

A new mother cat might also abandon her litter if she does not have enough resources to safely care for all of her young. Abandonment only occurs as a last resort if there are some injuries or illnesses present in the litter that prevents the mamma from caring for them properly on her own. In these cases, it is best to contact your local humane society or animal shelter for help. It is not uncommon for mother cats to reject one or all kittens due to illness.

Mother Cat Has Mastitis

Mother Cat Has Mastitis

Mastitis is an infection in the mammary glands, resulting in swollen breasts full of pus. This condition is excruciating for mother cats who may choose to abandon their litter if they cannot nurse them. Mothers with mastitis should be taken to the veterinarian right away so proper treatment can begin immediately.

Mother Cat Loses Her Milk Supply

Mother Cat Loses Her Milk Supply

A mother cat might not have enough milk to feed all her hungry mouths, so she will decide which kitten gets fed based on size or health. Since many kittens are born within hours of each other, this isn’t usually a problem. However, if only one mother cat cares for more than six kittens, it is best to contact your local humane society or animal shelter for help.

Sick Kittens May Drive Mother Away

Sick Kittens May Drive Mother Away

Kittens can be pretty noisy and wriggling, which may drive a mother cat away. This is common if the kittens are sick or injured in some way. Although the mother cat will likely return once her young is more subdued, it is best to look for help if you find several hours have passed since the mother cat was last seen.

A mother cat might also be driven away by the behavior of an ill kitten, who may become irritable or too active for the mom to handle appropriately. If possible, try moving the sick kitten into a different area where they can rest quietly without disturbing their siblings. Often just separating them for a short time is enough to give their mother access again.

The above are the reasons why mother cats leave their kittens, as well as how long they are expected to stay away. By knowing this information, cat parents can keep track of whether or not something is wrong with their family pets.


Here are some of the most frequently asked questions:

Q.Is It Normal For Cats To Leave Their Kittens?

Ans: Yes, it is normal for mother cats to leave their kittens for several hours at a time. It is entirely normal, as long as the mama cat returns to nurse her young throughout the night. This behavior is especially common after a stressful event such as a move or being introduced to new people or pets in the home.

Q. What to do if new cats cannot feed their kittens?

Ans: Mother cats have a strong instinct to care for their kittens and do so as long as they are healthy. However, if the mother cat has been missing from her kittens for an extended period. Because in the first week, new kittens need to be fed every 3 hours. If their mother does not return for more than 4 hours, you should contact a vet for help.

Q. Is there a chance the newborn kittens will die?

Ans: Newborn baby kittens are pretty fragile and do not have much of an immune system, which means they are easily at risk of contracting diseases. Therefore, the chance of a newborn kitten dying is very high if its mother cat abandons them.

Q. How long can a mother leave her kittens?

Ans: Mother cats have strong maternal instincts and will return as soon as she feels safe again. She may even stay gone longer than the time necessary to keep her kittens safe and fed. However, mother cats can take longer than 8 hours to return.

Q. What is the best time and place to search for a mother cat?

Ans: New kittens will usually be in the same spot the mother cat gave birth, but they will usually move around and explore once they reach ten days old. It’s best to check in quiet areas with limited human traffic. An excellent place to look would be under a porch or shed or inside garages and abandoned buildings.

Q. Why does cat’s mother never let me touch her kittens?

Ans: It is common that most mother cats to be protective of their young, especially when they do not feel safe. Therefore, if you want to pet a cat and she hisses or growls at you, it is best not to touch them under any circumstances, as this will only make her more likely to protect her kittens from your advances.

Q. Why won’t my cat stay with her newborn kittens?

Ans: Cats may not be able to produce enough milk because their hormone levels are out of balance, for example. It is also possible that the cat is unwilling to nurse her kittens because she does not find them interesting or cute.

If the mother has lactose problems, then they may be unable or unwilling to nurse the kittens. Dogs and cats can both have issues with galactose intolerance due either to genetic sensitivity or immune-related problems (glucose phosphate hexane deficiency).

This requires veterinary consultation if found in newborns, as it is treated by restricting calories, reducing maternal intake of sugars, and administering additional supplements such as Lactaid.

Q. How do I know if my mother cat has abandoned her kittens?

Ans: There are a few things you can look for to see if your mother cat has abandoned her kittens:

  • If hours pass and the babies are dirty, fussy, and/or loud, it is safe to consider them abandoned.
  • If the mother cat is not around and there is no food or water for the kittens, it is safe to consider them abandoned.
  • If the mother cat has been gone for more than 12 hours and there is no sign of her returning, it is safe to consider them abandoned.

Q. How long can a mother cat be away from her kittens?

Ans: A mother cat can be away from her kittens for 2-3 weeks. During that time, the cat owner will groom and feed the kittens, and they will also stimulate them to pee and poop. If the mother is not around, then someone else needs to do those things for the kittens.

Young kittens need to be weaned by 8 weeks of age. By that time, they should be eating solid food and drinking water on their own. If they’re not weaned by 8 weeks, then they may start nursing on each other, which can cause health problems.

Final Words

The information provided above offers insight into why mother cats leave their kittens and how long they generally stay away. This is a good resource for cat parents to keep in mind when looking after their family pets. Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I hope you found it helpful and informative. Don’t forget to share it with friends and family. Until next time.

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