Home Cats My Cat Keeps Laying On Her Kittens – Causes And What To Do

My Cat Keeps Laying On Her Kittens – Causes And What To Do

by Lucy

There is no question about it; kittens are such cute little bundles of joy! With their little meows and tiny fluffy bodies, you just can’t help but want to pick them up and give them cuddles.

At such a young age, a kitten’s body has not yet fully developed and we must always remember to handle kittens delicately and with care. This is why it can be particularly alarming to see momma cat laying on her own kittens.

This is a scenario that often occurs before weaning and one that can be a cause for concern. Many owners question why their momma cat is laying on her kittens and what they can do to prevent this situation from occurring. After all, the last thing you want is for one of the kittens to get hurt, or worse.

So, why does your cat keep laying on her kittens? Mother cats lay on their kittens for one of three reasons. They may be inexperienced with dealing with kittens, are actually trying to protect them, or lack the space in their nursing area to have a corner to themselves. Luckily, there are ways to prevent each of these issues.

Let’s take a closer look at why momma cats lay on their kittens and some things you can try to do to protect the kittens and stop this situation from occurring.

Why Do Cats Keep Laying on Their Kittens?

It is a pretty common sight to see a momma cat laying on her kittens. It can be very worrying for owners to see this happening since there is always the possibility of the kittens suffocating. It can seem to us humans as a pretty strange thing for a momma to do. After all, she should be protecting them, right?

There are a few main reasons why a cat may lay on their kittens:

  • They are inexperienced first-time moms.
  • They want to protect their kittens.
  • Lack of space

Yes, you read that right, one of the reasons is actually to protect them! Keep reading to find out why this is the case as we dive into each of these below.

Inexperienced First-Time Moms

Being a first-time mom can be pretty daunting for any females, human or animal. Many changes happen during this time and lots of adjustments need to be made to daily life to accommodate the new additions to the family. Motherhood is a life-changing experience, to say the least.

Momma cats that have just given birth for the first time can find life pretty overwhelming and challenging. They’ve only had to look after themselves over the years and now are completely responsible for the care of a whole litter.

Cats can have anywhere up to 12 kittens at a time! The bigger the litter, the more stress a momma cat has to endure. Even a mother’s instincts can’t prepare them for everything.

Cats in general can make lovely moms. However, a feline that has given birth for the first time has little experience and can often feel stressed (which is understandable). In this situation, is common to see the momma cat laying on her kittens.

She, unfortunately, is not experienced enough to see the dangers of this behavior, which can have a disastrous outcome. Most house cats haven’t even had experience around anyone else’s kittens either, so they can easily misjudge the fragility of their kittens.

Kittens have such fragile bones and body structures at a young age. It doesn’t take much for a kitty to get injured and fractured bones are a high possibility if they are not taken care of correctly. First-time moms do not have the awareness a more experienced cat mom would have, which can often cause problems.

To put it into perspective, an average adult cat weighs approximately 10-12 lbs, whereas a newborn kitten will weigh around 4 oz. You can see from the weight differences how dangerous this can be for an inexperienced momma cat to be laying on her kittens (through no fault of her own, we’d like to add).


Another key reason you may see a momma cat laying on her kittens is for protection purposes. Cats can be very protective of their own.

The momma cat will shield her kittens from danger or unfavorable situations and surroundings by laying on them. This provides ultimate protection for her babies, and if any threats are present, they will have to come through her first!

Sometimes a danger or threat is not so apparent, but you will still notice your momma cat lying on her kittens.

It doesn’t always mean there is an obvious threat; it may have more to do with her surroundings. If momma cat is not happy with the environment in which they live, she will become hostile and overprotective. She will lay on her kittens so they do not have to experience the bad vibe that she is experiencing.

This doesn’t mean she’s afraid of you or anyone else in the house. It could be as simple as not liking her nesting place. It could be too open for her liking or even too noisy. You’ll have to pay special attention to anything that could be triggering a negative reaction from her.

If this behavior goes undetected by you and no solutions are presented, your momma cat will continue to lay on her kittens as a form of protection, putting her litter at risk.

Lack of Space

It goes without saying that if there is a lack of space in the birthing place, then your momma cat often has no choice but to lie on her kittens. This isn’t a choice that has been made by mom, but a situation that should be fixed by you, her caring owner.

Although the birthing place in question must be cozy and inviting, you must ensure that it is big enough to accommodate the whole litter and that they have enough space to each move around sufficiently.

This is often a problem that occurs if you were only expecting a few kittens to be birthed and miraculously ended up with 12! Maybe you just thought your cat was fat, not pregnant, and woke up to quite the surprise!

Or maybe you even set up the most perfect birthing spot you could imagine and weren’t expecting your cat to choose a cardboard box as her birthing place instead. Either way, these small spaces just won’t do.

How to Prevent Cats from Laying on Their Kittens

There are a few things that you could consider to try and help your momma cat from laying on her kittens. It can be a difficult behavior to stop completely unless you remove momma cat away from her kittens, which is definitely not advised.

Let’s take a look at a few options which may be able to prevent this behavior from occurring.

1. Check the Nursing Environment

As mentioned above, one of the key reasons for cats to lay on their kittens is for protection. Usually, because they are unhappy or unsettled in the current environment. Sometimes it is the case that their nursing quarters are not big enough for the whole family to reside in.

Ensure that both momma cat and kittens have enough space to move around sufficiently without providing too much space where they may feel lost and exposed.

Make sure that the nursing area has a soft spot (a flat cushion or pillow rather than a blanket), is free from clutter, and is located in a quiet area of the house, where momma and babies can catch some peace and not feel threatened.

For example, an empty closet with a cracked open door in an unused guest bedroom on the opposite side of the house from all the noise is an absolutely perfect choice. Just put some safe bedding down in one side, and you’re good to go!

A change in environment can often be a simple solution to what may seem like quite a big problem.

2. Install Feliway Sprays in the Home

During and after birth, momma’s hormones are all over the place, to say the least. She may feel uneasy and stressed, particularly if she is a first-time mom. Feliway sprays are quite possibly one of the very best calming devices for cats.

Feliway sprays mimic a cat’s facial pheromones, which your feline friend would usually rub all over the house themselves. When these pheromones are present, they can help your cat feel more relaxed and secure, which can be very helpful for reducing stress after the momma cat has given birth.

When your momma cat feels more comfortable in her surroundings, she may feel less anxious and fearful, reducing the protective instincts she has towards her kittens.

3. Monitor Activity Frequently

Monitoring what your cat and her kittens are doing on a frequent basis can help prevent serious injuries. Understandably, this is not a foolproof way of stopping your cat from laying on her kittens and you cannot be monitoring their activity all the time.

However, it does help to keep a close eye on what is taking place. If you can see the kittens getting squashed, you can intervene before any serious injuries may occur.

4. Provide Safe Bedding

Providing safe bedding during nursing is quite important. A nice comfy blanket might sound pretty cozy, but it can also, on occasion, be a hazard. This is particularly true if you have a momma cat that frequently lays on her kittens.

Not only might the kittens get laid on, they also may get caught up in the blanket and potentially suffocate in the process.

Providing something soft and cozy is perfectly welcome, however, one of the best ways to manage bedding is by using a soft cushion or pillow that is flat and can’t get rumpled up.

If your cat has made the space under your bed its new home, you can secure a thin comforter or blanket with each corner being held down by the pegs of your bed. That way, your kittens will still have all the comforts of home without getting themselves in a tangle with the bedding.

5. Employ a Surrogate

Employing a surrogate momma is usually a last resort and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you feel like your cat is a serious threat to her kittens or has previously caused harm to kittens from another one of her litters, then it is a wise idea that she does not continue to nurse.

Removing the litter and placing them with a surrogate cat mom can sometimes be the only option to ensure the kittens stay safe and healthy.

Never remove the kittens from their mother without having a suitable surrogate in place for them to continue nursing. It is advisable to try the other potential solutions mentioned above first before deciding to split momma and babies up. It is also a good idea to check with your vet first before separating a mother from her kittens.

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