Why do cats eat their kittens?

The birth of kittens is beautiful and a beautiful moment of happiness and joy. But are you ready for what comes next? Mother cats have a natural instinct to love and care for their kittens.

But sometimes a mother cat does the opposite. She could eat one or more of her kittens. Doing so does not make her less of a mother, nor does it make her a bad mother.

If you are a cat lover, you may have heard this nasty question:

Do mother cats eat their young?

At the end of this article you will understand why a cat sometimes eats her kittens .

Is it normal for cats to eat their kittens?

Yes, it is normal behavior, but not common. Some cats eat a kitten, while others destroy the entire litter.

Science still doesn’t know why some cats develop this cannibalistic behavior.

Remember, this behavior has nothing to do with you as the owner. You cannot always stop or control nature. However, you can try to understand why and take some steps to avoid it.

Prevention is not a guarantee. Success will largely depend on why the mother cat eats her kittens.

Reasons why cats eat their kittens

  • Born dead.
  • Birth defects and deformities.
  • Out of mercy.
  • By some threat.

1. Stillborn kittens

Although you may consider it barbaric, sometimes the mother cat eats her stillborn kittens . Provides nutrients that pass through your milk to kittens that survive.

2. Birth deformities

It’s survival of the fittest. If any of the kittens are too weak or deformed , the cat may eat them shortly after birth. This is to give healthy kittens a chance to survive, as they will have a better chance of growing into healthy adults.

Other cats will choose to ignore him, which means not feeding him. If she does this, you can remove the kitten and bottle feed her .

3. Stress

Stress is not a common reason that female cats eat their young. But, it should not be ruled out. The environment plays an important role during and after birth and can cause unusual behavior in the cat.

Among the environmental stressors that can affect mother cats are the continuous movement of people in the room, loud noises, excessive handling of the pet, handling of the young, etc.

It is not just the mother’s safety that causes the nervousness, but the fear of what could happen to her litter.

You might believe that your kittens will be taken away from you or that unnecessary noise will make your kittens more susceptible to predators.

3. Lack of maternal instinct

Cats, like people, may lack the maternal instinct , in this situation you will have little interest in taking care of the kittens  or will not know how to do it, which leads her not to take care of them and, therefore, she may eat the kittens .

This can occur in young and gilt cats, who are more likely to reject their kittens, and in older cats with hormonal imbalances that cause them to reject their young.

So that this does not happen, or to be able to save the largest number of pups, monitor your cat’s behavior after giving birth and if you observe that she lacks maternal instinct and the kittens’ lives are in danger, you should be the one who takes care of them and tries to take them forward.

4. Threat from other animals and pets

Other pets or family members may be perceived by the cat as threats during and after delivery. This includes pets that are the same species.

It is advisable to introduce kittens to family members and other pets once they reach the weaning phase. Do this in a way that you don’t overwhelm or endanger the kittens.

5. Mercy

It is possible for a cat to have too large a litter. She cannot breastfeed all of them, there are not enough breasts for the kittens to nurse, and she does not produce enough milk. You may have to eat some to save the strongest kittens.

5. Due to malnutrition

If the mother cat is malnourished and hungry shortly after giving birth and is too tired to search for food, she could eat one or more of her kittens. Remember, this only happens with wild cats. But this can be prevented by providing enough food soon after you have the kittens.

This should not happen with domestic cats that receive a well balanced diet before, during and after pregnancy. Don’t forget that pregnant cats require more nutrients, just like humans.

Conclusion about cats that eat their kittens

Although it is an unpleasant act, it is normal behavior for a mother cat to eat one or more of her kittens. You may have many reasons for doing so, ranging from pity to malnutrition.

You can’t always stop her from doing this, and you shouldn’t stop or scold her. She has instincts that you don’t have, including knowing how many kittens she can nurse.

Female cats can display other strange behaviors. Pay attention and react accordingly.

From pregnancy to weaning, provide your cat with a quiet space, high-quality cat food and water. Intervene only when necessary for the survival of a kitten or the mother.



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