Do cats eat their young?

Cats have become well cherished pets. It is not uncommon for cat parents to treat the pet as the baby of the family. These pets are kind of addicting…one pet would not be enough for a cat lover. This is one of the reasons why pet owners would breed the pet. Cat owners would excitedly await the arrival of the cute furry bundles. This is why a pet owner would be aghast at the sight of the mother cat eating her kitten. Do cats really eat their young? Mother cats normally take care of the litter until the kittens are of weaning age. However, there are cases where cats would eat their kittens.

Cats have been domesticated for hundreds of years. It is not uncommon for a cat lover to get another cat when the pet dies. This means that people practically understand the behaviors manifested by the pets. However, cats would do things that we humans fail to understand. The cats’ inclination to eat their young would puzzle pet owners. Killing and eating the kittens is a disgusting behavior thus the cat would be punished…some would even be abandoned by the owners. The reasons for this disgusting behavior must be understood.

Male cats that have fathered the litter do not take part in rearing the young. Toms may not even recognize the kittens as their own. Cats are predators. Newborn kittens would be of the same size, would have the same movements and practically make the same sound as the typical prey of cats. Cats are predators with high prey drive. Because of the innate hunting ability, tom cats can steal a kitten while the queen is away from the nest. The hunting instinct that triggers a cat to eat the young rarely happens in female cats. Queens would do everything to ensure the safety of the litter from predators. Feline mothers would go to great lengths to make sure that the kittens survive. Female cats would eat their young for a different reason.

A mother car would eat her young if it is deformed or sick and has very small chance of surviving. Humans, unlike the mother cat would not be able to know if something is wrong with a kitten. Queens would normally purr and lick the kittens to entice them to nurse. The same care would not be given to a kitten with abnormalities. In some cases the weak kitten will be eaten. It appears that the queen would not want waste the effort as well as the nourishment on a kitten that will not survive. Mother cats stressed with the pregnancy and the parturition would eat the young with abnormalities to regain the energy and the strength lost while delivering the kittens.

Eating the young can be the feline mother’s way of protecting the litter. When the nest is disturb, the queen would usually find another location that is deemed safe and transfer the litter. However, if transferring the nest to another location is not possible, the cat would kill and eat the young to protect them from predators. The smell of a dead kitten would be a magnet to predators. The queen would have to remove the kitten to save the rest of the litter. The queen may remove the dead kitty, the nest can be relocated or the dead kitten can be eaten by the mother cat. Nervous queens that feel threatened by the presence of predators would eat the young. Queens may kill and eat the young that were handled by humans. This happens when the cat’s own smell was obscured by the smell of humans so that the cat can no longer recognize her own kitten.