Why do cats eat their newborn kittens?

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A litter of kittens that is about to be born is always a cause for nervousness at home, but also for excitement. You have surely been anxious for the arrival of the new members of the family, wondering what life will be like with the little ones. However, sometimes these ideas are truncated when you discover that your cat, the mother of the kittens, has decided to eat some of her young, and even the entire litter. This event usually generates not only frustration in the human family, but also disgust and even rejection.

However, it is a behavior that is somewhat normal in the animal world. Keep reading to discover AnimalWised why do cats eat their newborn kittens, and know how to deal with an event like this.

You may also be interested in: Resuscitation of newborn puppies Index
  1. Weak or sick young
  2. Stress
  3. Lack of maternal instinct
  4. Feline mastitis
  5. Does not recognize their young
  6. What can you if your cat eats her newborn kittens?

Weak or sick young

In the first place, it is necessary to clarify that when an animal, any one, devours another of the same species, this is called cannibalism. The word is strong, but it is not a rare behavior in nature.

Sometimes, some young in a litter may be born with a disease or deficiency that is not visible to the naked eye, and that the mother detects through her keen sense of smell. In these cases the cat assumes that the cub will not be able to survive, so he decides to eat it; at the same time, avoid infecting the rest of the herd. The same happens with pups that suffer from some deformity.

Something similar happens with the weakest offspring. In all litters, especially those of 5 or 6 kittens, there are larger and stronger puppies, and others smaller and weaker. Although it does not always happen, some cats consider it advisable to dispense with the less suitable offspring, in order to give their milk and care only to those that have the best chance of survival..

These things may sound cruel to you, but it's just natural selection, by which all species are governed in one way or another..


Usually a house cat will not kill her young due to stress, but this possibility should not be ruled out. An extremely noisy environment during pregnancy or delivery, constant traffic of people from one to the other, harassing the animal with care and attention, not providing a quiet space to give birth, among other reasons, trigger nervous behavior.

The nervousness generated in the cat is not only due to herself and her own safety, but also due to the fear of what could happen to her litter (that her puppies are separated from her, that they are prey to a predator), and in some cases this feeling leads to the sad ending that we already know. It also happens if there are other animals around and the mother perceives them as possible threats.

All of this is usually more common in new mothers, when stress is able to override your maternal instinct. For this reason, it is essential to offer the future mother the best care during pregnancy and provide her with a relaxed, calm and stress-free environment..

Lack of maternal instinct

It is also possible that the cat lacks maternal instinct, in which case will have no interest in caring for the young or she just won't know how to do it, leading to her getting rid of them and thus eating her newborn kittens.

To prevent this from happening, or to save the greatest number of pups, observe the behavior of your cat after giving birth and if you see that she lacks maternal instinct and the kittens' lives are in danger, you should be the one to take them in and take care of them. to take them forward. To do this, do not miss our article on how to feed newborn cats and seek professional help if you need it..

Feline mastitis

Mastitis is an infection, common in many mammals, that affects the mammary glands. It can be deadly to the mother and the cubs, but it is also very easy to care for. The problem is that causes a lot of pain, especially when the kittens try to suckle, which can cause the cat to reject them, even devouring them in order to avoid suffering. If you suspect that it may be the case of your furry companion, consult our article on mastitis in cats and find out well to go to the vet and start treatment.

Does not recognize their young

The cat may not recognize the puppies as her own, or members of her own breed. It occurs in some cats that have needed a cesarean section, because the hormones related to maternity that are usually activated in childbirth are not produced.

Similarly, in some breeds or with new mothers, they may mistake kittens for smaller prey, rather than seeing them as their own children. For this very reason is that it is recommended not to handle the puppies unless necessary, because the human smell eliminates the scent of the cat, causing it not to recognize them.

What can you if your cat eats her newborn kittens?

First, keep calm. We know how impressive this can be to humans, but don't get carried away by emotions and do not despise your cat. It is simply a behavior that has its reasons, and that is natural even if it is not for us.

Instead of rejecting the feline, try to find out what could have happened based on the reasons we have already presented to you. If these are health or stress reasons for your cat, resolve them as soon as possible with your veterinarian..

If any of the cats in the litter were left alive or you realize in time that your cat is biting her kittens to kill them, the best thing to do, as we have already mentioned, is to raise it yourself to prevent something bad from happening to it. . Take him to a specialist to assess his health.

Similarly, if all the kittens have been eaten, it is best to sterilize the cat to prevent this event from repeating itself. Offer your cat the same affection and love as always, soon you will be able to overcome that little tragedy together.

This article is merely informative, at AnimalWised.com we do not have the power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the vet in the event that it presents any type of condition or discomfort.

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