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Cats/[urgent] How can I get a cat to change her nest?

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Hi,

I've taken in a stray cat and she has been living in our backyard because my sister is allergic. She gave birth yesterday and she chose a basket hidden inside a table as her nest which is a very great and comfortable place for her and her kittens. I live in Saudi, so the weather was warm all of the past month but today it started raining, so out of fear (and stupidity) I carried the basket inside. This isn't the first time I've carried the basket, I've taken it outside the table before to leave food inside and the mother cat never had a problem with that. Also the cat has been inside the house a lot before and she actually prefers it to the outside, but the mother jumped out of the basket as soon as I carried it inside, and wouldn't go back in. She also got outside when she noticed the door was open. My mom, not knowing that the mother was outside, closed the door while the kittens were inside. When I realized that the mother cat was locked out I carried her in and she panicked, carried one of the kittens and went to a corner outside and hissed at me and almost attacked me. I carried the basket with the remaining kittens to her even though it was raining and too cold for them, and after a while she finally carried the rest to that corner. Thankfully, she's no longer scared of me. She even let me carry two kittens to her when I noticed they were too far away from her and were cold.

The problem is that the new nest is terrible. It's not hidden or warm or comfortable at all, especially when compared to the first nest that was very hidden and warm. Can I move her kittens back inside the basket or will she think I'm attacking them again? Is there a way for me to get her to carry them by herself or do they only do that when they feel like they're in danger? Will leaving her food in her old nesting place help? Her new place is so exposed and I'm really worried that stray cats will attack the kittens or they die from the cold weather.

Sorry for the length and thank you in advance!

Answer
Haifa,

I know of no way to control how a mama picks a nest out for her babies. Normally, we do not fools with the nest, once she has picked it.  You have discovered why!

What can be done sometimes is to put the mama somewhere were she cannot access the kittens for a couple of hours and, usually, she is so glad to get back to the kittens, she forgets all about moving them.

As for the cold weather, as long as mama is there, she will keep the kittens warm. The concern I would have is that by moving the kittens now, mama may find a place where you cannot find her or the kittens.

By the time the kittens are 3-4 weeks of age, they can be weaned.

Please keep me posted on any developments.

Concerned regards... Norm.

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Norman Auspitz

Expertise

I can answer most non-veterinary questions about cats. My particular expertise is pedigree cats, breeding and showing. However, I am versed in feline behavior, cat breeds and their characteristics, general feline husbandry, and the like.

Experience

I judged for the Canadian Cat Association from 1975 until 1982. I am currently an approved allbreed judge for the Cat Fanciers'' Association (the world''s largets cat registry), and have been judging for them since 1991. I have been breeding pedigreed cats since 1971 and have been exhibiting pedigreed cats in shows since 1970. I obtained my first pedigreed cat in 1970 and have never looked back. In 1971, I obtained my first Abyssinian which has become my primary breed. In addition, I have bred Manx and Persians. Currently, besides the Abyssinians, I am also breeding Maine Coons.


Organizations
Cat Fanciers'' Association, inc. (CFA) and the Manx, Maine Coon, and Abyssinian breed councils. I am currently Abyssinian breed council secretary.

Publications
Cat Fancy Magazine, The Abyssinian Chapter in The Cat Fanciers'' Association Complete Cat Book, and Articles for various editions of The Cat Fanciers'' Association Yearbook

Education/Credentials
I received a B.S. from Drexel University in 1968, a M.Math from University of Waterloo, in 1970, a Ph.D. from University of Waterloo in 1975, and a MBA from McMaster University in 1980. I received my approved allbreed judging status in the Cat Fanciers'' Association in 1999.

Awards and Honors
We have produced a number of Cat Fanciers'' Association (CFA) National winning Abyssinian and Maine Coons. We have produced a number of Abyssinian and Maine Coon Distinguished Merit females (an award for a top producing cat), including the first Distinguished Merit Abyssinian in the red (sorrel) color. I am the CFA Abyssinian breed council secretary and belong and/or hold office in a number of cat clubs. I am also a member of the CFA Judges Association.

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