Do Cats Eat Their Kittens?
Your pet cat has just given birth and you are excited to see the new kittens. However, you were horrified to find out that the mother cat had eaten one of her cubs. Do cats eat their kittens? The answer is yes! Cats can often eat their kittens if they are deformed, stillborn, or have birth defects. Mother cats can also eat their kittens if they are stressed.
Is it normal for a mother cat to eat kittens?
Knowing that mother cats have a tendency to eat their kittens can make you very anxious and you may think that something is wrong with your cat. Why Do cats eat their kittens?? Is that a normal behavior? Yes, I am normal, if rare, mother cat behavior eating their kittens and some may even eat not just one kitten but the entire litter. While scientific studies have not given a specific reason for such behavior, it is part of their natural instinct.
The reason why the mother cat eats the kittens
Mother cats are usually protective of their young and will do anything to keep them from harm and predators. However, there are cases when she eats her own children. Here are common reasons why mother cats may eat their newborn kittens.
1. If the kitten has a birth defect, is stillborn, or becomes ill
A mother cat can eat her kittens if they are stillborn, sick, or have birth defects when they are born. However, sometimes she won’t eat them but completely ignores and ignores them. There are cases where the mother cat chases the sick kittens out of the nest and separates or leaves the kittens in another area. Similarly, if you see her taking the sick kitten away from the rest, feed and care for the kitten separately and have it checked by a veterinarian.
2. If the mother cat is stressed
Mama cats are very susceptible to stress and anxiety before and after they give birth and this is largely due to environmental factors. These environmental stressors can include loud noises, excessive traffic in the room where she is, and over-manipulating or handling her kittens too soon. All of these things can cause stress, anxiety, and tension in the mother cat. She may think that the kitten will be taken away or exposed to predators and will eat her young as a result.
3. To protect them from predators.
Cats have a natural instinct to protect their young from predators in the wild, and even domesticated cats have this natural need. If the mother cat feels her kittens are in contact with predators, especially if the place she is with her kittens has distractions such as noise and strangers, she will likely eat her kittens. to protect them from predators.
4. If she feels threatened
The mother cat may feel threatened by other pets and people in the house, so she will resort to eating the kittens. To prevent this from happening, make sure to provide a safe and quiet place for your mother cat and her kittens.
5. If she is malnourished
Malnourished mother cats may instinctively eat one or more kittens to get the nutrients and food they need. She may only eat one or two kittens if she feels that she is feeding the rest of the kittens. This can be prevented by making sure that your mother cat is well fed and has the right nutrition so that she can raise her young well.
6. If she is suffering from feline mastitis
Cat mastitis is a medical condition that mother cats often get after giving birth. A mother cat’s mammary glands become infected and this can be life-threatening to her pups as the infection can be passed to them during nursing. Due to the pain, the mother cat may ignore the kittens or eat them. To prevent the mother cat from eating her kittens, it is best to separate them and consult with your veterinarian about the right medication and treatment for the mother’s condition.
7. If she doesn’t recognize her kittens
This is a bit rare, but there are cases where the mother cat will not be able to recognize her young. Common causes can be from her giving birth through one genital or from excessive manipulation where humans frequently touch and hold newborn kittens. If a mother cat gives birth through her genitals, the hormones involved in the birthing process are not released naturally and this can confuse the mother, so she will eat her kittens. . eat them. You and your family members should not touch the newborn kittens because the mother cat may not be able to perceive their scent.
How to know if a mother cat eats her kittens?
You should observe and monitor the mother cat before and after birth and count the number of kittens that have been born. Newborn kittens can’t roam because they can’t walk yet, so if one or two kittens suddenly go missing it could be because the mother cat has swallowed them.
What to do if a mother cat eats her babies?
If you find out that the mother cat has eaten one or more of her kittens, do not punish them as it is natural and instinctive behavior. What you can do is take her to your vet for an immediate check-up and determine the possible causes of her eating them. If you notice a sick or lethargic kitten in the litter, gently separate it from the rest and feed and care for it yourself.
Does the mother cat have maternal behavior problems?
Mother cats sometimes experience health and mental problems, especially after their young are born. These are maternal behavior problems, such as maternal inattention towards the kittens and excessive maternal behavior when the cat exhibits maternal symptoms even when she is not pregnant and No kittens of its own. Below are the symptoms of these conditions.
Symptoms of maternal lack of behavior
- cat mother refuses to breastfeed her kittens
- The mother cat will not take care of the kittens
- The mother cat is aggressive towards the kittens or may even eat them
- The mother cat does not bring the kittens that have moved back to the nest
- Mother cat always moves kittens from place to place
Symptoms of Mother’s Excessive Behavior
- the cat has enlarged nipples and is overgrowing milk
- the cat tries to protect or take care of objects like a kitten
- cat steals kittens from another mother cat
Causes of maternal behavior problems
These are common causes of maternal behavior problems:
- genes that control the behavior of the mother cat
- Hormonal changes or imbalances
- stress and anxiety
Treatment of maternal behavior problems
Here are the possible treatments for maternal behavior problems:
- separate the mother cat from the kittens, if necessary
- Feed the kittens yourself or you can also look for a surrogate mother for the new kittens
- hormone therapy or torturing cats with excessive maternal behavior
Other common mother cat behavior problems?
Other mother cat behavior problems include moving their kittens away, rejecting or ignoring the kittens, biting or becoming aggressive towards people and other pets. If you notice your mother cat exhibiting these behavioral changes, it’s best to keep other pets, people, and children away from her nest or the room she’s in. Make sure that the mother cat and kittens are in a quiet and dimly lit place or room. You should only take steps or intervene if the mother cat or kitten requires urgent medical attention.
Common medical conditions after birth of the mother cat
Mother cats can sometimes experience health problems during childbirth and while nursing their kittens. These are common postpartum medical problems:
Mastitis in cats
As mentioned earlier, this health issue is an inflammation of the mammary glands that can be painful for the mother cat. Here are some of its common symptoms:
- kittens don’t gain weight
- The mother cat does not want to suckle or breastfeed the kittens
- moderately hard and swollen mammary glands
- the presence of gangrene
- there is blood or pus discharge from the mammary glands
- condensed and sticky milk
- Anorexic mother cat
- mama cat has a fever and she is vomiting
This condition is mainly caused by a bacterial infection but can also be caused by trauma to the mammary glands or by chronic engorgement due to sudden weaning or death of the kitten resulting in reduced milk production. The medical condition is usually treated with oral antibiotics and pain relievers. Applying cabbage leaves is also recommended and kittens should not be breastfed from their mother. For severe cases, your veterinarian may require hospitalization so that medications and intravenous fluids can be administered.
Hypocalcemia in cats
The mother cat suffers from this condition due to low calcium levels. These are the signs and symptoms of hypocalcemia in cats:
- Hypersensitivity to touch and sound
- whole body muscle twitch
- uncontrolled muscle spasms.
The main culprit of this life-threatening condition is chronic kidney failure but it can also occur as a postoperative complication following surgical treatment for conditions such as hyperthyroidism. Other common causes can include pancreatitis and can also be related to lactation in nursing cats, also known as milk fever. within normal limits. Other treatment options include the use of Vitamin D and dietary supplements with calcium salts.
Endometritis or inflammation of the uterus
This medical problem is an infection of the uterus in mother cats that usually occurs a week after giving birth to their young. Inflamed uterine lining due to bacterial infection These are the signs and symptoms
- Swollen and dough-like belly
- decrease milk production
- dark red gums
- discharge mixed with pus and blood
- increase heart rate
- neglect her kittens
Common causes of this condition include prolonged labor, difficult delivery, obstetric manipulation, spontaneous or medical abortion or abortion, and a retained fetus or placenta. Treatment may include antibiotics, stabilization with intravenous fluids, and supportive care.
While it is shocking to know that your pet cat has eaten one or two of her kittens, we must remember that this is a natural instinctive behavior of cats and can be caused by factors such as stress. straight or undernourished. It is important to give more loving care and attention to the mother cat during this critical period of her life and to provide them with ample food, water, and an ideal place to nurture and care for them. their children.
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