We have 1-week old kittens. This is the first litter for mama cat. Since they were born last week, she has moved them to 5 different places! Should we be worried about this cat behavior? Is this normal? We panic each time we go to check on them and they're gone! Or worse, 4 out of 5 are gone, and we can't find them or mama. Thanks!
The mama cat is trying to protect the kittens by hiding them. As odd as it seems, this is normal. The best things to do are to either keep her indoors where you know the kittens can't be lost or harmed until they are older or do your absolute best to keep your distance from the mama cat and her kittens once she has them settled. By checking on them frequently, you may be disturbing her and making her nervous. By staying away, she is less likely to move them because she is not being watched closely.
Mother cats usually do just fine mothering their kittens on their own. She will feed, clean, and stimulate them to urinate and defecate instinctively. Of course, checking every once in a while to make sure she is doing this and knowing what to watch for to make sure the kittens are thriving are very important as well. Please read the articles on the site regarding Kitten Development and Newborn Kitten Care for more information.
In your situation, as hard as it may be, try to just let mama do her job and observe only from a distance so she may protect and care for her kittens.
Thank you for writing,