My Pregnant Cat Has Disappeared. Help!

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

My 2-year-old cat was due to have her second litter of kittens any day now, but about five days ago she came up missing. The night before she disappeared, she was trying very hard to get me to let her in the house. I have small children and by the time I got everyone settled for bed I forgot to let her in. The next morning, there was no sign of her. My husband and I have a looked for her for hours in every place we can think of. My question is, how long will a mother cat stay gone after giving birth? And it’s been extremely cold at night, would she be able to keep the kittens warm? It’s been around 30 degrees at night.

~ Layne

Siouxsie: Okay everyone, before the claws come out — please be helpful, not judgmental. We know lots of you humans have strong feelings about spaying and neutering, and with good reason. But sometimes stuff happens, so please do your best to leave constructive feedback. Don’t make me get my claws out!

Thomas: Trust me, you don’t want Siouxsie to get her claws out.

Bella: Yeah. I’m still smarting from my last swat. *sniffle*

Siouxsie: Okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way … a cat about to go into labor starts seeking a safe place to give birth a few days before the blessed event happens.

Thomas: If she can’t find an indoor space, she’ll look for the warmest, safest place within easy reach. What that means is she almost certainly hasn’t gone far.

Bella: Have you checked with your neighbors or local animal shelters? If someone found a heavily pregnant cat — or a mama cat with a newborn litter — they may have contacted area vets and rescue groups for help.

Siouxsie: That’s what happened to my kitty-mom: she was a stray, outside and almost ready to give birth to us, when a kind lady let my kitty-mom in and gave her a home where she could give birth to my brothers and sister and me.

Thomas: When you and your husband go looking for your cat again, look inside sheds and barns, under porches or trailer skirting (if you live in a place near mobile homes), inside truck campers and even in piles of hay like the kittens in the picture above.

Bella: When you do go looking for mom-cat, be ready to pick up the kittens too. Bring a cat carrier with you. And make sure you have a safe place ready for the little family, too!

Siouxsie: That would be a high-sided box lined with towels and newspapers so mom can get in and out but the kittens can’t get far, which would be in a room with a door that closes. In that room should also be a litter box, and bowls for food and water.

Thomas: If you don’t find her, the odds are good she won’t come back before the kittens are able to move on their own — and that could be a while.

Bella: Little kittens’ eyes and ears don’t even start opening before they’re a week old, and their sight and hearing aren’t fully functional until about 2 weeks. After that, it takes at least another two weeks before they’re steady enough on their feet to walk any distance.

Siouxsie: Mama cat isn’t going to go far from the kittens before this time. In fact, she probably won’t even leave the nest except to hunt, eat, pee and poop, so if you don’t find her before then, I wouldn’t expect her to show up on your doorstep for at least a month.

Thomas: As to whether she can keep the kittens warm, that depends on where she found shelter. If she found a dry place that’s out of the wind and reasonably sheltered from the cold, she should do all right.

Bella: Of course, how well the kittens do is going to depend on if she can find enough to eat to keep her milk flowing so she can feed them.

Siouxsie: Mother cats have huge nutritional needs because they’re eating for themselves and their kittens, so if you have a suspicion about where she might be, leave food for her. Trust me, she’ll find it and eat it!

Thomas: If you do find mom and kittens, check out Catster’s guide to kittens, which will tell you all about the kittens’ stages of development, nutritional needs, veterinary considerations and learning.

Bella: And if, heaven forbid, you find the kittens and no sign of Mama, or if you find that Mama’s been fatally injured, you should read up on raising orphaned kittens so you can give them the best shot at life.

Siouxsie: Once the kittens are weaned, you’ll want to get mom-cat spayed as soon as possible. Female cats can go into heat almost immediately after their kittens are weaned, so don’t delay!

Thomas: We know spaying is expensive, and we’re sure that with little kids and a busy family, it’s probably something you’ve meant to do but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Bella: If finances are a factor, there are low-cost spay/neuter clinics all over the U.S., and some states even offer spay/neuter vouchers for people who meet certain income guidelines. The ASPCA and Humane Society of the United States have nationwide directories of low-cost spay/neuter programs, and a web search for low-cost spay/neuter resources in your area will probably yield a lot of results.

Siouxsie: Good luck, Layne. We hope you find momma and kittens, and everyone is doing well.

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  1. Rumorasit says

    I’m sure she’ll show up as soon as she’s able to. That’s been my experience with our barn cats back in the day. Lots of good tips for finding her too.

  2. alex white says

    Initially i got furious for what Layne had done. But then i then remember the fact that i too have sometimes committed mistakes, though not as big as this one, and her honest feeling of guilt for her act, brings my anger level down.. please do keep us posted if you find the mama cat.. hope she’s fine

  3. Catherine Murdoch says

    Have you thought of putting up notices (preferably with a picture) at the places like local community centres, shopping centres, any vets and pet shops? Perhaps also a notice in your local newspaper(s)? My thoughts and prayers are with you and I hope you find your mama-cat soon.

  4. says

    ok, have to get the claws out!!! first, you are contributing the overwhelming cat population by letting your cat outdoors – first, not spayed, second, don’t you care if something happens to your animal? there is usually a leash law – THAT APPLIES TO CATS!! if you plan to have animals, then, take care of them regardless of your children!!!!

  5. AnitaB says

    Hate to repeat this but, yes, FIX UR CAT! Why should this poor baby go through this constantly when, in this day and age, there are low-cost spay and neuter alternatives. Better to pay the money for one spay then to try to house hundredths of future offspring. Also, she needs to be kept indoors. I can’t believe in this day and age we still have people who allow their female cats to run free and get pregnant. Also, those with barn cats need to do the same thing. I work with a TNR colony at my local fairground and anytime we find a female we get her spayed. Too many unwanted cats and kittens in the world. Everyone, wise up!

  6. Jen says

    OMG people HAVE A HEART !!!!!!

    she is obviously worried about her cat GIVE HER A BREAK and put your claws away !!!! jeez !!!

    i hope your cat comes home soon xxxxxxx

    • Holly says

      THANK YOU!!! I too commented to help and was so embarrassed and felt horrible for her bc of how people were treating her! Who wants to post questions if this is how you will be treated? Thanks for you being so respectful and realistic !

  7. Multi-Facets says

    If all else fails, consult a pet psychic. It might be a long shot, but it’s something. I recommend Elizabeth Woelfel in Ambler, PA.

  8. Holly says

    I’m sorry this happened to you, but I’m even MORE sorry that there are so many IGNORANT people on here! I think your question was how long your cat may be gone or help in ideas how to find her? I don’t think you asked about how pregnancy happens or comments about putting the cats needs over your own children! I found this website via google bc I also was having an issue with a new mommy kitty. But I’m not posting my questions for fear of the rude and mean comments that wi sure come along with it!! So now answers to your original question. Your cat is probably very close to the house. She won’t go far from her kittens yet she also would probably try to stay close to her home and food source. And idea coaching her with food like tuna etc and then Maybe set up a video camera that has the area around the food so you could see where she is coming from. That’s a little more involved but desperate times desperate measures. I know this original post is old but I wanted to give an answer for anyone like me who stumbles upon it and needed real answers not lectures and rude comments!

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