How Long Do Kittens Cry for Their Mother?

kitten crying for its mother

One of the most heart-wrenching sounds for me to hear is that of a kitten crying. It is a sound that just seems so helpless, lost and desperate. It tugs at your heartstrings and makes you want to help the kitten.

Trying to raise a kitten can be quite a frustrating and anxious time for the inexperienced cat parent. They require a lot of attention and care around the clock. One thing that kittens do a lot is cry, especially if they are separated from the mother cat.

How long do kittens cry for their mother?

It is normal for kittens to spend the majority of their time crying for their mother. The younger the kitten is, the more it will cry for there mother cat for food, warmth and security. As kittens get older, you can expect the crying to drop in frequency and intensity until they are fully weaned.

If you are currently looking after a new kitten or have a cat that has currently given birth to newborn kittens, this article will help prepare you for your kitten’s crying.

Will Kittens Cry For Their Mother?

kittens in a basket crying for their mother

If you are currently looking after a kitten, be prepared for a lot of crying from the little fella. When I say kitten, that includes any cat that is newly born to about 15 weeks of age.

Treating your 8-year-old cat as a kitten doesn’t quite count here.

Kittens are born deaf and blind which makes them feel very vulnerable. After coming out of their mother’s birth canal, the newborn kittens will start to cry which will alter the mother of their presence.

The mother will start grooming them, nursing them and keeping them warm.

Think of the tiny kitten as a human baby and if you have your own child or a much younger sibling, you know how much a baby can cry when it wants something.

Once you start treating kittens as human babies, their crying sounds less intimidating and will start to give you clues about their needs and wants.

I would be worried if the kitten isn’t crying at all or crying very little.

Why Do Kittens Cry All The Time?

The excessive meowing or crying that you hear from your kitten is its way of communicating with you. It is the same way how an adult cat would communicate but just more frantic in nature given the vulnerable state of the kitten.

Here are some common reasons why your kitten is crying.

1. Your Kitten Is Hungry

If you think that your adult cat is an eating machine, the appetite of a growing kitten is even more ferocious.

The first weeks or months of a kitten’s development are crucial which means that it needs all the nutrition that it can get.

A healthy kitten can eat as many as 6 times a day due to their huge appetite. If you are not feeding your kitten enough or frequently, you can expect your little one to be crying for food.

Making sure that your kitten gets enough food is very important otherwise it can die from low blood sugar or starvation.

For kittens that still require milk, only feed specialized kitten milk formula or goat’s milk. Do not feed cow’s milk as it contains too much lactose and can upset your cat’s stomach.

2. Your Kitten Is Cold

kitten cold looking for mother cat

Kittens don’t do a very good job of staying warm. Cats can only start to regulate their own body temperature around 5 weeks of age.

It is important to keep your kitten warm as low body temperature or hypothermia is a leading cause of death for young kittens.

Kittens like to stay close to their mother cat or form a kitten pile with their siblings to stay warm. If there isn’t a mother cat or sibling available, ensure that you place a blanket where your kitten sleeps to provide adequate warmth.

You can also wrap a hot water bottle in a towel and place it at your kitten’s nest for extra warmth. Do not expose these young cats to direct heat as it can cause severe burns.

A good temperature to maintain would be around 80-90F or 27-32 degrees.

3. Your Kitten Wants Attention

Kittens are needy little furballs by default. Being so small and weak, they need to depend on their mothers for almost everything.

Even though cats are seen as independent and aloof by many, they still do require a certain amount of attention daily. Studies have shown that cats look to their owners for security and comfort.

An adult cat might only need a good half hour of playtime and bonding but kittens need way more than that.

When my cat was a few months old, he followed me everywhere I went at home. It wasn’t just a quiet tag along, he was screaming his little lungs out for attention.

He just wanted to be near me for security and companionship.

Another way that a mother cat shows attention to her litter is to groom them. Cats are masters of grooming and can spend a good 5 hours daily licking themselves.

By grooming her litter ones, she spreads her scent on them which makes it easier for her to recognize her own kittens. Grooming also helps to strengthen the between the family.

Take a toothbrush with soft bristles and gently run it all over the kitten. It will make the kitten feel like its being groomed by its mother and calm it down.

4. Your Kitten Needs To Pee Or Poop

kitten having diarrhea

This might gross out some cat parents, but if your kitten is younger than 3-4 weeks old, you need to encourage your cat to eliminate its waste.

A mother cat will gently lick the bum of her kittens to help them pee and poo. Kittens are not able to use the litter box on their own until they hit 3-4 weeks of age.

Please do not attempt to lick your kitten’s behind for safety reasons. Use a soft warm cloth and gently rub its bum in a circular motion until its pees or poo.

By the way, cats do not pee and poop out of the same hole. Just saying.

You need to do this a few times a day otherwise your cat can get constipated or a urinary tract infection which can be deadly for cats so young.

5. Your Kitten Is In Pain

Cats meow when they are feeling pain or discomfort. Given that a kitten is weak and does not have a strong immune system, they are more susceptible to falling sick as compared to an adult.

Kittens are also more prone to getting worms which can affect their digestive system and appetite.

If you notice that your kitten has the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Not eating
  • Weak
  • Not crying much

It would be best to bring it to the vet for a check-up. Kittens can fade very fast if they have an underlying medical problem which can be fatal.

How Do I Get My Kitten To Stop Crying For Its Mom?

I have fostered a few very young orphaned kittens before and they tend to cry much more than one that has been properly weaned.

It is natural for the kitten to feel scared and insecure without its mother which is why you need to step in and play the role of mother cat for the little thing.

Firstly, you need to ensure all the basic necessities of the kitten are met like food, warmth and pooping/peeing.

Secondly, do not leave your kitten alone for too long. An hour or so if ok if it’s in a safe enclosure. But definitely not more than that. You can’t expect to take good care of a kitten and be absent for hours on end.

I place a couple of small soft toys near my fostered kitten which helps to simulate the presence of another cat. This helps to keep them calm and they tend to sleep near the soft toy.

You can also wrap up a ticking alarm clock in a towel and place it near your kitten. This actually simulates the heartbeat of its mother which can stop the kitten from crying.

Thirdly, bring the kitten with you wherever you go. I wouldn’t recommend bringing them out of the house in public as they can be fearful of the sights and sounds. But use a baby carrier and place the kitten in it.

Speak to it in a soft and loving voice to make it feel that everything is going to be alright.

Being close to you will help the kitten feel protected and stop its crying for the mother cat.

Should You Ignore A Crying Kitten?

When a kitten is crying, it is trying to communicate to you what it wants and how it feels. It is very important that you respond to your kitten to see what it wants.

If your kitten is new to your home and away from its mother and siblings, it is definitely going to be anxious about its new surroundings.

Ignoring your kitten while it is crying will only worsen its mental and physical states.

Give your kitten as much attention as it wants and make sure it is attended to when it cries.

Do Kittens Grow Out Of Crying?

Lucky for us, our kittens do eventually grow out of crying. Ain’t going to lie, looking after a kitten that is only a few days or a few weeks old is hard work.

It gets better as they start to get older and more confident and self-sufficient.

Once a kitten reaches 4-5 weeks of age, it doesn’t need to be drinking milk so frequently any longer. The need to be always crying for food will be lesser as they move on to solid food.

Most cats will stop their incessant crying around 12-15 weeks of age unless it’s feeding time or they demand something.

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