Why do cats eat their kittens?

If your cat eats its kittens, worry not, it's nature adjusting itself.

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If you have a female cat that frequently gives birth, it is likely you have experienced seeing the mother cat eat her babies. Luckily this is not very common.

Diseased kitten

According to feline experts, one of the most common reasons a cat will eat one of her kittens is because it is diseased or unhealthy and has a low chance of surviving. In such a case, the mother will eat the kitten instinctively. Cats have more than 200 million smell sensors and they use their acute sense of smell to detect things a human nose can’t, like a diseased kitten. An unhealthy kitten poses a danger to the rest of the litter because if it dies, bacteria can quickly spread to the litter, leaving the other kitten vulnerable.

Stressful labour

Experts also say long and stressful labour can lead to a cat feeding on its baby. Three-day delivery labour for instance will leave the cat famished and it may consume a kitten to regain some of the nutrients lost. Cats are obligate carnivores thus their body is designed to run on proteins. Therefore, eating a kitten helps them recover important nutrients that will help it continue giving birth.

Inexperienced mother

Another reason could be an inexperienced mother. A first-time mother can eat her kittens because she does not know what to do with them, it could also be too rough and unintentionally kill the kitten then eating it.

A malnourished cat may also eat its kittens. She will usually eat the placenta but if she is extremely malnourished, he may eat the entire litter. If there are kittens left, they will receive increased nutrients through breast milk, so the sacrifice of one can improve the health of many.

The most likely reason a kitten will be eaten is that it was born unhealthy or stillborn. The cat may eat the kittens for any other reason but they are more common in feral cats living in the wild without food or shelter.

If your cat eats its kittens, worry not, it's nature adjusting itself. You may also take it to the vet to get some supplements.

Maryanne is a pet owner. [email protected]