Why do some cats eat their kittens?

Eating a kitten, the cutest living thing in the world, seems completely crazy and despicable at the same time. And yet, this is what some females do after giving birth to their young. Rest assured right away, this act of cannibalism is not uncommon among our feline friends and it always takes place for a (good?) reason. So don’t reject your cat if it has killed one or more of their kittens.

1. Kittens are too weak

If, in a litter, one or more of the kittens is born with an illness or any handicap (too small, too weak, malformed…), their mother will feel it immediately. If it thinks that their baby has no chance of survival, it can quickly decide to kill them in order to reserve their milk and their care for those who are healthy and avoid contaminating the rest of the litter. And to end their life, it has to “eat” them.

2. They have no maternal instincts

It happens that some cats are completely devoid of maternal instinct. In this case, they will not hesitate to kill their young because they represent more of a burden for them, or else because they do not know how to react to these moaning little beings.

3. They don’t recognize their kittens

It is thanks to the maternity hormones produced during birth that cats manage to recognize their kittens as their own. If the latter had to have a cesarean to give birth, they may not have had time to produce these famous hormones and will not know that these kittens are theirs and that they belong to the same species. Likewise, touching a newborn kitten is dooming it because you are depositing your own scent on it and its mother might not recognize it.

4. They have mastitis

Mastitis is above all an infection of the mammary glands which can be fatal for the cat. Very common, this disease can be quickly treated and cured. Only small problem: if a cat affected by mastitis has just given birth to young, a powerful pain will declare itself when the kittens will make their first feeding, pushing the mother to reject them or to kill them to avoid suffering.

5. They are too stressed

Cats rarely kill their young just because of stress, but it can still happen. An environment that is too noisy or too hectic during delivery could put your kitten’s nerves to the test. The latter could then be afraid that their young will be taken from them and will kill them before that happens. Likewise, if other animals are present, the cat might be afraid of what might happen to their babies and eat them to prevent them from being eaten.

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