Cat had kittens outside and you’re not sure what to do?
This is the right place for you.
Oftentimes, a cat will have kittens outside, even if the cat spends a lot of time in the home.
Inside/outside cats still sometimes have their kittens outside.
If your cat had kittens outside, this post can help you understand why it happened and how to help her.
Why Do Cats Hide Their Kittens?
There are several reasons why cats hide their kittens.
Before we get into that, though, there’s another important piece of information to address.
In the grand scheme of things, cats aren’t all that domesticated.
While humans have had both cats and dogs for centuries, cats are relatively new arrivals when you consider the length of time animals have been domesticated on this planet.
Cats have even more deeply ingrained instinctive behaviors than dogs.
Even the most friendly cats tend t be secretive in some ways.
- They enjoy small cozy spaces well away from noise and irritations.
- They may hide or bury their food.
- They can be fiercely territorial.
Those gifts of dead animals that they bring us are another instinctive activity.
Even kneading when they are enjoying being scratched is an instinctive response.
Another instinctive behavior cats have is hiding their babies, even when they know and trust their families.
Feral cats or outdoor cats hide their kittens to protect them from predators.
Like puppies, kittens are born blind and deaf, relying solely on their mother to keep them safe.
An outdoor cat will pick a spot that is difficult to find and/or get to in order to minimize any danger to her kittens from predators.
Coyotes, hawks, eagles, and even domesticated dogs all present a real danger to her kittens, so a safe, secluded spot is key.
Remember that instinct we discussed earlier? Instinctive drive plays a key role in one other predator of kittens – tom cats. Much like male lions in a pride, tom cats will often kill any kittens in their territory.
Doing so means that the mother cat will go back into heat sooner, and give him a better chance of mating with her and passing down his genetic code rather than that of a competitor male in the area.
Safety and secretiveness go hand in hand. If a cat had kittens, she’ll want a spot that is well away from lots of movement, even in the home.
Too much foot traffic in a room or too much interaction with her kittens too soon are both causes for her to move her kittens.
In addition, if a room is too noisy or too bright, she may decide to move her kittens to a more secluded location.
Oftentimes, an indoor mother cat will move her kittens to an area like a closet, under a bed, a dresser drawer, behind a sofa, or even a kitchen cabinet.
Once there, she may also decide that the area has become her territory and defend it aggressively, even from her owners.
Remember that instinct plays a huge part in this, so don’t yell or otherwise show aggressive behavior towards the cat.
How to Prevent Hiding if Your Cat Had Kittens
The most important thing to remember is that mother cats don’t like a lot of activity around their cats.
The best way to ensure that she won’t move her kittens to an undesirable location within the home is to give her a safe place to birth at the start.
A low box with a soft blanket in the bottom tucked into the corner of a quiet room can be a great place for your cat to keep her kittens.
Also remember that although you want well-socialized cats, too much interaction with kittens too soon can lead to the mother cat moving her kittens.
Give her her space. Stay out of the room except for cleanup and keep children and other animals out of the area.
Explain to children and any visitors that they can’t see the kittens until they are older because you want to keep the mother cat comfortable and feeling safe.
Cat Had Kittens – Where Does She Hide Them?
As I previously mentioned if a cat had kittens, she will most likely have picked a spot that is quiet and out of the way.
Depending on where the area, that could be any number of locations.
Cats will look for places that are quiet, low on traffic from humans or animals, and difficult for other animals besides the mother cat to reach.
Examples of locations where mother cats hide their kittens are:
- Under porches
- Under homes if the cat has access to the crawl space
- In barns, usually, the loft or a difficult-to-reach cubby area
- Abandoned structures
- Any area that has a cubby-type depression or cave-like opening that offers a small easily defended opening with plenty of room for mother and kittens
Why Do Cats Occasionally Pick Unsafe Locations
The simple answer to that is that the cat doesn’t know the location is unsafe.
For example, a house cat may move her kittens to an area like a basement that isn’t used often.
That basement could have lots of nooks, crannies, and items in it that present a danger to her kittens.
However, in her mind, it is safe because it’s quiet and away from lots of noise and commotion.
If an outdoor cat had kittens, she might pick a location that seems safe to her but that really isn’t.
Moving her kittens under an old car in a barn or outdoor garage, for example, might look safe to her, however, she has no way of knowing that the car was scheduled for towing the following day.
Other examples are areas such as warehouses.
In general, any area that may seem initially quiet but has sporadic but intense bursts of activity are unsafe.
The mother cat will not understand this, however.
Why Do Cats Sometimes Move Only One Kitten
If you see that a cat had kittens outside moving one kitten to another location or simply away from her other kittens, you may be seeing an instinctive drive to cull a sick kitten.
It’s a brutal fact of the animal kingdom that only the strong survive. Mother cats can sense if their kittens are unhealthy.
If the kitten is weak, is unable or unwilling to latch on for feeding, or too small, a mother cat will often abandon the kitten in order to save her energy for her healthier babies.
Oftentimes, people will see a cat moving one of her kittens and assume that the rest will be close behind.
Later, they discover that the kitten wasn’t the first one to be taken to a new location but rather has been culled.
People will often go to the new location, sometimes only several feet away to check on the mother and her kittens only to discover that the kitten has been abandoned.
If you see a mother moving a kitten, keep an eye out for the rest of the kittens to follow.
If you don’t see the mother or more kittens relatively quickly, retrieve the kitten if possible and take it to your local shelter immediately.
They have the resource to rehabilitate the kitten and get it adopted. If you want to adopt the kitten yourself, simply take it to your local vet for proper care.
Cat Had Kittens Outside – How to Find Her Newborns
If your cat had kittens outside or if you know of a local feral cat who has had kittens, you’ll most likely be eager to find where they are.
Unfortunately, cats are very, very good at hiding their kitties, so you have to rely on three basic methods, all relying on the mother.
As is most often the case with feral cats, you’ll need to keep a sharp eye on the mother.
Chances are, she has no trust of humans, and she will never willingly lead you to her kitten. Instead, watch her.
Take note of areas that she frequents most. Of those areas, begin your search with the one that seems most secluded and quiet.
As stated earlier the most likely areas to find kittens will be in structures like sheds or under porches, in crawl spaces, or in barns.
Just note the quietest spot and begin searching there.
If your cat had kittens or the neighborhood cat isn’t feral, just homeless, you might be able to simply follow her back to her kittens.
Begin following her. If she stops to be petted, give her a little attention, and then ignore her until she decides to move on.
Repeat the process, and eventually (hopefully) she’ll lead you to her kittens.
This only works for very friendly cats, so be sure you take stock of the cat’s attitude towards humans before attempting this.
A mother cat will need all the food she can get to produce enough milk to feed her babies.
She will actively seek out food, so make your home a grocery store for her.
Set out the tastiest wet and dry food you can find every day. Don’t worry, she’ll find it.
Over time, she’ll begin to associate your home with being a primary food source, which will, in turn, prompt her to move the kittens to an area near your home so she can access the food more easily.
Don’t rush to find the kittens if you notice her bringing them to your property.
Rather, watch her in order to determine where the kittens are. This is especially true if she’s feral.
You’ll want to have a pretty good idea of where the kittens are because if you disturb her new safe space, she’ll simply move them all over again.
Cat Had Kittens Outside? Take Your Time, and You’ll Find Them
If a cat had kittens outside, it’s important to find them right away.
No amount of preparation on the mother’s part can fully protect her or her kittens from predators, parasites, or the elements.
If she is your cat, you’ll want to be able to watch her and the kittens.
If she’s feral, she and her kittens will need to be properly cared for as soon as possible to ensure the highest possibility of their survival.
With the knowledge you’ve gained here, you should be able to find the mom and kittens sooner rather than later, which leads to better survival odds.
Want your kittens to come out from hiding, watch this video:
How to find kittens outside
There are many ways to find kittens outside, from letting your leashed dog sniff them out to leaving out food and waiting for them to show up. However, I’ve found that the easiest approach is to just covertly follow the mama cat. Unleash your inner PI and tail her to their location. Make sure she doesn’t see you, though. Binoculars come in really handy here.
Why do cats hide their kittens?
Cats hide their kittens for the obvious reason: safety and security. Outside, kittens face countless dangers, from predators to rough weather and even well-meaning humans.
Where do cats hide their kittens inside?
That answer depends entirely on how much your cat trusts you. If you’ve established a strong bond, you may find that your cat is perfectly comfortable “hiding” her kittens on a blanket in your bedroom. Less trustful kitties may hide them in a closet, under a bed, or any other secure place that’s out of the way.
well it seems that cats and women have the same worries when they become mothers! Nice post. I did not have any idea about the secret place for kittens to be honest and I really enjoyed the new information.
My cat is pregnant and I’m not sure how far along she is so I’m scared that she is going to have her babies down the road or under my neighbors house. I have really been looking forward to the kittens being born so I hope I have her inside by time she has them if she hasn’t already.
A feral cat had kittens don’t know where, and she is refusing to eat. I give her GOOD wet food and she sniffs it and just sits there. I also give good dry food and she won’t eat. What can I do??
Our cat had kittens outside 2 weeks ago. We watched where she was going but couldn’t locate the kittens. Yesterday she was killed on the road beside us and we are devastated. We have searched and searched for the kittens but no sign of them. We are heart broken.
Not a cat person but I enjoy knowing more details about them. So many of them actually are in our village – they breed so much!
That was an interesting fact about cats. I don’t have one but this help if ever I decided to adopt.
Wow I’ve learned something from this post! I love cats and kittens and were planning to adopt cat someday.
This is so true. I remember when my cat was pregnant. I prepared a place for her but she refused to litter there she went to hide in the store in a carton and she never led me to her babies. I had to watch and follow her before I realized where she had littered. Well written post.
I know how cats can be territorial and independent so not too surprised to hear they can hide their kittens.
I never knew that kittens are born deaf and blind hence they rely on their mum for all the safety, provision and protection. Now I understand why my grandma’s cats had kittens safely kept away from us too till they were old enough.
Neighborhood Outside cat had babies and seems traumaized is this normal? Im providing food and water for her and watching? I have tried to bring her in before but she wanted out we have always just fed her and eatched over her want to trap her and get her fixed.
We have had two feral cats for 2 years – last year she had a liter and we never knew where. We live in the country. Blackie the dad would come and go but mom mostly hung around. Last spring, we believe mom had her babies in the culvert in front of our home – a large rain storm came and we think washed her babies away because we saw her run towards the culvert constantly looking. A month later a kitten shows up with mom where we were feeding them. Blackie, the mom and baby played and stayed together. Mom got pregnant by Blackie this winter and just had her babies last week somewhere on our property. Still have not found her. We had living accommodations for all three of them with a heated pad over winter. Mom let us pet her and she would socialize with us. Blackie disappeared off an don the past 4 weeks. He just cam back after she disappeared…..did he come to eat or kill her babies. And how did he know??? We are actively looking. Last years kitten takes off looking but returns to eat and sleep in their shelter we built for them.
When I was a young girl we lived in the country. We had 32 acres and most of it was wooded. I had a cat (actually several). I would always let the mother cat in the house, feed her, and then let her outside again. She would take her time to be sure I wasn’t following her. I had to watch from a window inside of the house and if she caught me watching her, she wouldn’t move. One cat had her kittens in a hollowed tree stump. They were safe there. It was right on the edge of our yard where the wooded area met our lawn. I was always so excited to find the kittens. The mother cat was our pet and she was an outdoor cat.
Another cat I had years later had kittens in the back of my brother’s stationwagon!!! It was just before Easter and still cold here .. maybe on the 20s. The back window of the stationwagon wouldn’t roll up all the way … it was just enough room for the mother cat to get in. The next day my dad heard the cat meowing at the door, so he let her in and fed her. She meowed that she wanted to go right back outside. Then my dad heard the cat meowing at the door again and goes to see what she was meowing about. She had a kitten in her mouth. When he opened the door, the cat high tailed it through the house and upstairs into my bedroom closet. She did this until all of the kittens were safe in my closet.
a few years back a feral cat had babies behind our shower and we ended up getting the one she abandoned and later found a sibling of it now the abandoned one is dead from a toad!!! and the other is the best kitty in the world… we have many kittens that are hidden out of sight in the neighborhood i know there is a couple ferals around and one is pretty chunky!!! not sure but i got my eyes on her… also i feed them so its become simple to attract them…
Thats why it is so important that they get spayed as soon as possible so they can be better pets and less cats. there are low cosat shelters to spay and neuter the kittens. ask google where and when. Thank you for caring.
We had found 2 kittens in some wood pile. A young boy told us they were there all alone. So we managed to snatch them and keep them.. I had built a huge Cage for outside to enjoy the outside, and would bring them in my closed porch during the summer evenings. All this time I do not know if the mother cat had preyed around, or even came be to see if nor where her babies were. They were a month or 2 old. Now after 2 years. the Mother cat has Meowed on our door step not once but visited us TWICE.. I think she knows these are her babies. We had Fix them and cared for them. I love them so much. But I also Love the Mother now. She has a distinct Meow like one of the Kittens and oddly enough that kitten looks alot like her ( colors, markings – I believe she is KOLICO breed. The other one I’m so in Love with is probably a KORAT.. but she is so sweet as a RUSSIAN BLUE. * I truly believe that cats don’t forget their offspring… I am still awaiting to see if she comes.. we are timing her – It’s about 2 weeks to 3… She visits us.
I have a feral cat who is pregnant. She lives in our screened in porch with a bed and food, but I am afraid she will get out and have the kittens under the shed. I am wondering if I should try to move her to the closet.
I am anxious about my cats giving birth, I am at a campground, we have a large feral colony or 2, I have been caring for 3 males and a female, working on logistics for TNR, anyhow the Female got pregnant by 2 other toms that sniffed her out, shes very young, all 4 come in to eat at dinner, I feed them outside in the morning, I have been tempting her to stay inside as I know we are only a day or 2 away. She will sleep on my bed and about 3 am wants to go out with a loud meow. Taking a lazy day as I write this and she is asleep next to me on the couch. I made the males leave since they we getting a little to rambunctious. we will see what happens in the next few days. The males were born around August/September last year and did not trust me until the campers left Nov 1st when they found I may have food, she showed up early November, I am guessing she was about 12 or 13 weeks old.
I am glad we had our cats spayed and neutered. Don’t want kittens around!
My friend’s cat had kittens. I am not sure where the cat had the babies but I do remember when a cat had kittens in our shed.
I remember when my friend’s cat had kittens in her closet. She couldn’t find her for a couple days then found her and the cutest little kittens in her closet!
We had a stray around our house once and she was pregnant. Eventually she had the babies and still stuck around. It’s interesting to see where they find places to hide.
I never thought about this, as our cats are indoor only. It would be scary if this happened.
Over the last few months we have been getting close to a feral cat who would not let us near her at all. She was so thin but would stay in our garden and next door’s garden. We started to place a plate of food out and she started to come and eat it and eat it so fast as obviously starving and no a spot of food was ever left on the plate. John would sit on the ground at the entryway to our front door and place the plate of food near him. Eventually she came closer and closer looking up at him every couple of seconds. Eventually she became to trust us and thought she was getting bigger because of the food and had wondered if she was pregnant as she seemed to have all the symptoms of being on heat. We could finally touch her, pat her head and loved a tickle around her ears and would flop right in front of you before she ate as she knew she would be in for a nice pat. She came to trust us so much that she would sleep in on top of some old sheets in the garage in a large bucket type of thing and was so cute to see this the first time but as soon as we would open the door to go out there she would take off. She was with us more and more and was calling this home. Two nights ago she disappeared and we saw her the last time on the security camera at 1.30am in the morning walking away. It has now been 48 hours and the food that was left there for a whole day ended up disappearing overnight and we have checked the footage from the security camera but not sure if it was her or another cat looking for her. We have grown so attached to her now and feel hopeless as to where she is and it all seems to add up to the fact she obviously was pregnant and has gone to have her kittens. It is a shame that they do not realise that where they sleep is the safest place but like this article says they are not domesticated like humans. If we read this article before hand we would have been a lot more careful and we are feeling so bad that we did not give her the help she needed. We are hoping that she will come back so we can follow her maybe but I think she is maybe too wise for us .
I am trying to find where a feral cat took her kittens and this post has given me good ideas. Thank you. However, why aren’t the people on here who claim to own the mothers not having the cats spayed? It’s inexcusable and irresponsible to let a cat have litter after litter.