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Why Do Cats Eat Their Babies

Reasons Why Your Cat Is Not Eating

Why Do Animals Eat Their Babies?

Adrienne Kruzer, BS, RVT, LVT, has worked with a variety of animals for over 15 years, including birds of prey, reptiles, and small mammals.

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The Spruce / Ana Cadena

It’s common for a cat to suddenly decide it doesn’t want to eat a certain food or treat anymore. But sometimes a cat stops eating for a more serious reason. You should be aware of the potential causes and concerns for a cat’s food aversion. There may be things you can do at home to help your cat regain its appetite, but sometimes veterinary intervention is necessary.

Do Cats Eat Their Babies 10 Reasons They Might

There is nothing more natural than the bond between parents and children and the passage of one generation into the next. Theres a reason why the phrase eating their young is used to describe situations of true hopelessness and horror. Surely cats would be free of that infanticidal cannibalistic impulse, or so we would like to think.;

The sad truth is that there are certain conditions under which cats can fall prey to their most base and desperate urges, and that sadly includes eating their own babies. So what could possibly compel cats to do the unthinkable and is there anything that you as a cat owner should know in order to prevent this tragedy?;

What To Do If A Mama Cat Eats Her Babies

If you discovered that the mama cat ate one or more of her kittens do not punish her because it is a natural and instinctive behavior.; What you can do is to have her checked by your vet immediately and identify the probable causes that prompted her to eat them. If you notice a sickly or ignored kitten among the litter, gently separate it from the rest and feed and care for it yourself.

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The Cat Eats Out Of Mercy

A mother cat will eat her young out of mercy, especially if she has quite many.

Mother cats know what she is capable of providing. Thus, if she has more kittens than how many she can raise, she will eat a few out of mercy for all.

Through this method, a mother cat shows mercy to the kittens she eats by putting them out of misery due to lack of milk.

At the same time, she also shows mercy to the remaining ones by eating their siblings to provide milk.

Like any other animal, cats have a built-in instinct. Thus, its mainly the reason why cats eat babies out of mercy.

Final Thoughts On Cats That Eat Their Kittens

Why Do Cats Eat Their Babies?

While its a bit barbaric, its normal behavior for your mother cat to eat one or more of her kittens. She can have many reasons for doing so, which range from mercy to malnutrition.

You cant always prevent her from doing this, and you shouldnt stop or scold her. She has instincts that you dont, including knowing how many kittens she can nurse.

Cats can show other odd behaviors. Pay attention and react accordingly. Your cat can only communicate her distress in so many ways.

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

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Do Male Cats Eat Kittens

The short answer to this is yes, male cats also eat kittens.

Most father cats may be harmless around their newborn babies. Even so, its still better to separate them as an extra precaution.

Some father cats eat their offspring to get the mother cats attention who are busy taking care of them.

Once they do, they may successfully grab the mothers attention and agree to mate with them.

What Makes Animals Like Cats Consume Their Dead

The answer might leave some of us dumbfounded, and others may completely understand and be sympathetic. The first instinct of any mother, human or otherwise, is to protect their young.

Does it make mother cats any less compassionate because their instincts are different from human parents? I think not. Every mother wants to have healthy babies, but that is not always the case.

For the mother cat, eating her dead;kitten is not the same as eating a dead animal. For her, it;is the safest choice if she and her surviving;kittens are to strive;in an environment where predators prey on their vulnerability.

Human mothers are just as protective, whether we admit it or not.

When cats are about to give birth, they seek a haven where predators cannot find their young.

This is the first stage of protection a mother cat displays. This haven is off-limits to humans and other animals. For us humans, our haven is the hospital, where our newborn babies can receive immediate attention if a problem were to arise. After giving birth, the mother cat examines her kittens and looks for signs of illness and weakness.

Weak and sickly kittens will soon die, and their decaying body scents will lead the way for predators to find the mother and her remaining kittens.

Therefore, mercy killing or eating of dead or sickly kittens helps the mother cat to provide a safe place for her family. How far would you go to protect your young?

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The Cat Eats Out Of Malnourishment

Mother cats who see a malnourished young as a kitten which has no potential to grow and survive. Thus she will eat it.

This kind of problem usually happens to stray cats compared to house cats. The reason is that house cats receive all the nutrients they need through their owners.

The strays, on the other side, would have to get their food.

Like humans, pregnant cats provide for their young. Thus, they need nutrients as much as humans do, especially when giving birth.

Without nutrients, kittens may turn out malnourished, forcing their mother to eat them.

The ones stated above are the primary reasons why a mother cat would eat her young.

Now, you may ask, how would the kittens father react? Do the male cats also eat kittens the same as the mothers?

If She Is Malnourished

Why Some Animals Eat Their Own Young

A malnourished mama cat may instinctively eat one or more kittens to make up for the nutrients and food that she needs. She may only eat one or two kittens if she feels that it is enough for her to feed the remaining kittens. This can be prevented from happening by making sure that your mama cat is well-fed and has a proper diet to be able to feed her young well.;

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How To Protect Kittens From Male Cats

At some occasions, the presence of a mother herself can be enough to prevent the male from killing her kittens. Unlike lionesses, for example, female cats arent submissive to males. Theyll have no issues fighting males who might attempt to hurt their kitties.

However, mothers cant stay with their babies all the time. Also, some female cats are much smaller than males, which might result in them losing the fight with a male.

Keep in mind, though, that most female cats can easily fight off much bigger and stronger animals than male cats. This includes:

  • Bobcats
  • Dogs
  • Raccoons

And other predators. In other words, for as long as a female is present, kittens should be safe.

Still, there are some precautionary measures you should do to prevent the male from hurting babies.

  • Keep the mother and the kittens away from the male cat until they are old enough. At what age are kittens safe from male cats? Well, there isnt one particular moment at which they are considered safe. However, once they grow big enough not to look like prey, a male likely wont hurt them.
  • Try to safely introduce the male to the new family addition even if he is the father. You never know how hell react.
  • Neuter your males as soon as you realize your female kitty is pregnant. Remember that some time needs to pass before the instincts are gone.
  • Socialize all your pets from an early age. This will help you ensure your cats have less chance of developing aggressive behavior.

What Do Kittens Eat Besides Milk

Once your kitten is about 3.5 to 4 weeks old, you can start weaning them off of the bottle. This is a gradual process that takes time and practice. The process usually looks something like this:

  • Begin by offering your kitten formula on a spoon.
  • Later, start offering your kitten formula in a saucer.
  • Gradually add canned food to the kitten formula in the saucer.
  • Increase the canned food in the saucer, adding less and less kitten formula.

If your kitten doesnt take to the spoon or the saucer right away, you can continue to offer the bottle.

As you progress through the weaning process, monitor your kitten and their stool to ensure that they digest everything well. If your kitten is doing well and isnt experiencing digestive issues , then you can gradually introduce more and more food.

At this stage, its also important to offer your kitten a bowl of fresh water to make sure that theyre staying hydrated.

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Is It Normal For Momma Cats To Eat Their Kittens

Yes, it is normal behavior. Some cats will eat one kitten. Others will consume their entire litter.

Science remains uncertain why a cat or another species will do what we consider barbaric. This video offers some hypothesizes researchers believe could explain the behavior.

Remember, it has no bearing on you as an owner. You cant stop or always control nature. You can, however, try to understand why and take some steps to prevent it.

Prevention isnt a guarantee. Success will largely depend on why your mother cat would eat her kittens.

What Is The Process Of Cats Eating Their Dead Kittens

Why Do Cats Eat Their Babies has a fascinating article that;cat lovers and cat owners should read. It gives specific details that lead up to the moment a mother cat devours her litter.

After the mother cat gives birth, she licks her kittens. This initiates breathing, the same way a doctor smacks a baby on the butt and gets it to breathe;by making the baby cry. By licking the kittens, the mother cat removes any liquids from the lungs and removes any remaining afterbirth.

This process might look volatile and rigid, but for the mother cat, it is a normal and necessary part of the birthing process.

If the kitten or kittens do not respond during the licking process, the mother cat will abandon the dead litter and focus on the surviving ones.

At this point, the mother cat will eat the dead litter, which will provide her with nutrients that she can pass on to her remaining kittens through her milk as they nurse. This behavior, though it seems barbaric, is rooted deep in the natural biological instinct of the mother cat.

Licking also exhibits the affection of the mother cat towards her kittens. Even after forceless licking her dead kitten, she is still hoping for a movement or some sign of life.

When all else fails, she gives up and walks away or consumes the dead kitten because the dead kitten can pose a hygiene risk. This is typical for Feral cats, but this is not typical of domestic cats.

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Do Cats Eat Their Kittens If You Touch Them

As we touched on, handling kittens too early can be risky. The mother may feel the kitten is endangered or she is about to lose the kitten. In these circumstances, she may decide the litter is unviable, feel stressed, or decide to withdraw resources. At that point, she may either reject the kittens or carry out a mercy killing of the kittens all as a result of your handling the kittens too early!;Although kittens need socializing, this should not be carried out too early. Leave handling kittens until they are two to six weeks of age to avoid creating problems with mom.

What Are The Factors That Affect Their Hunt

Cats are practical. They will take advantage of all of their opportunities and hunt whenever they can and eat whatever they get. But, generally, there are several factors that come into play when it comes to what cats hunt in the wild. Well discuss each of them.

Geographical location

The variety of their prey, the cats needs, and their hunting skills differ according to where they live in the world.

European wildcats mostly depend on small mammals like rabbits, rodents, and birds. Especially poultry birds if they live near human settlements.

African wildcats, however, depend entirely on Murids, a rodent family.

As for hunting skills; a cat living near a lake and depending on fish and other sea creatures for survival wont develop the same hunting skills of a cat in the desert.

Each location has its specifics that its native cats are in sync with.


A general rule is, the bigger the cat the bigger the prey. Usually, a cat would hunt a prey half its size, as its easier to hunt and the bones are easier to digest.

Smaller cats focus on rodents, birds, and fish. That rule isnt always followed though. And bigger ones, like lions and leopards, will focus on deer.

Lions, for example, can also hunt and eat giraffes and elephants. As it has a lot to do with hunting skills too.



The sex of the cat is a big factor when it comes to hunting. Contrary to expectations, female cats are both better at hunting and hunt more frequently.

Social Structure

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Why Did My Cat Kill Her Kittens

The mother cat kills her kittens if she feels threatened. If she thinks a particular place is not safe enough to bring her kittens up, then she tries to move them to another place. Some mothers kill their kittens by mistake it could either be a case of overenthusiastic grooming or unintentional trampling.

Cats Chewing The Kittens Umbilical Cord And Eating The Afterbirth Is Normal

Why do cats eat their kittens?

A mother cat will often chew the umbilical cord of her kittens to sever it. She will chew it off around 1 inch from the kittens body. If shes having trouble, you can tie dental floss around the cord, then cut the cord with sharp scissors, leaving the floss between it and the kittens body.

Some mother cats will also eat the placenta, or after birth. The placenta can provide essential nutrients to help a cat regain her strength and produce plenty of milk for her babies.

This is good mama cat behavior, and seeing this certainly doesnt mean your mother cat is thinking about eating her babies.

Now, lets take a look at the rare scenarios where a mother cat might indeed consider eating a kitten.

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The Newborn Kitten Is Stillborn

A mother cat will eat her young if its stillborn.

Like human pregnancy, mother cats may give birth to a dead kitten.

There are many reasons why a mother cats young would become stillborn, and most of these are due to pregnancy problems.

If a kitten is stillborn, the mother cat will eat it.

While it may not sound good, its the best way for the mother to deal with her dead baby. Further, its one way for her to get the nutrients she needs to feed and provide for the surviving babies.

Not Recognising Kittens As Her Own

If the cat is an inexperienced first-time mum or if the kittens have been born by cesarean, she may not recognize the kittens as her own and maybe completely confused with the situation. It is rare but not unheard of for the cat to suffer stress in this scenario and end up rejecting, or worse, eating her kittens.;

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Why Do Mother Cats Eat Their Babies

Why do cats eat their kittens? Cats eat their kittens because of deformed, stillborn or birth defects. They also eat the kitten if they feel threatened.

According to most cat owners who experience such with their furballs, it comes down to:

  • Stillborn
  • Threats
  • Malnourishment

Cats showing this kind of behavior is not necessarily a reflection of their being inexperienced as a mother.

What Do Cats Eat In The Wild

Why Do Mother Cats (Sometimes) Eat Their Kittens ...

report this adWeve narrowed down the category of what cats eat in the wild. Those following living things are the most commonly eaten as preferred prey.

1- Rodents

Rodents, alongside rabbits, are most likely the largest part of the diet of average-sized cats. Theyre available in a lot of locations around the world and smaller than cats so they make an easy catch. Rabbits are also a major food source as theyre slower than cats.

Actually, in Europe, rodents are the main source of protein for wild cats. Even for domesticated cats, rodents are the most hunted and sometimes eaten.

2- Birds

Birds are also a major part of a wild cats food intake. The size of the bird correlates with the size of the cat. Bigger cats catch bigger birds. They exist in large numbers in most locations of the world and are easily caught.

Bats, considered small mammals, are also majorly hunted by cats. Cats who live closer to bat caves have bats as their main source of food.

3- Squirrels

Although squirrels present more of a challenge to cats than rodents and birds, theyre still a big part of a wild cats diet. A cat with advanced hunting skills can take a squirrel by surprise.

4- Reptiles

Reptiles are more relevant to location than the other animals mentioned as they usually live in warmer places. However, theyre easy to catch as most reptiles are slow. Theyre also more likely to poison cats than the other animals because they sometimes eat poisonous insects.

5- Amphibians

6- Fish

7- Insects

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