Friday, May 24, 2024

What Does A Mother Cat Do With A Dead Kitten

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How Do Mother Cats React To Their Dead Babies


gibbly said:The feline species in general are some of the best mothers on the planet, I have had momma cats work for hours on a dead kitten licking and cleaning it, long after she certainly realized it was dead, she would still lick and clean it.even more so if the kitten dies, cats certainly do mourn I have also have a cat who’s kittens were killed by some predator the mother cat would go back to the spot where she had the kittens, for over a month she went back there, calling for her babies until finally after about a month, she gave up.feral or domestic, makes no difference

Checking For Signs Of Life

Look for signs of breathing. Is the cats chest moving up and down and can you see the cats stomach move?

Look at the cats eyes to see if they are open. Cats eyes usually remain open after death, since it requires muscle control to keep them closed. Its pupils may appear larger than usual if it has died. To check whether the cat is unconscious, try shining a light briefly in the cats eye. If the pupils react, the cat is unconscious but still alive

What Other Behaviors Might A Mother Cat Display With A Dead Kitten

In many ways cats are likely people they have highly varied personalities. Some cats may not respond negatively to a dead kitten, they may be very matter of fact,  but others may be deeply affected by the experience and demonstrate all sorts of behaviors.

Some cats that lose a kitten are very protective of the dead kittens body and will not be willing to accept the death or allow the body to be removed. These cats may lick and groom the body and in some cases even lay on the body to prevent removal of the body.

Sometimes, if the body is not properly disposed of, simply put aside for disposal at a future point the mother or even father cat will retrieve the body in the mistaken belief that the kitten needs to be brought back into the litter heartbreaking to witness, but does happen on rare occasions.

Final Thoughts On Cats That Eat Their Kittens

While its a bit barbaric, its normal behavior for your mother cat to eat one or more of her kittens. She can have many reasons for doing so, which range from mercy to malnutrition.

You cant always prevent her from doing this, and you shouldnt stop or scold her. She has instincts that you dont, including knowing how many kittens she can nurse.

Cats can show other odd behaviors. Pay attention and react accordingly. Your cat can only communicate her distress in so many ways.

From pregnancy to weaning, provide your mother cat with plenty of quiet space, high-quality kitten food, and water. Intervene only when necessary for a kitten or the mothers survival.

What Behaviors Should Raise Concern

What Does A Mother Cat Do With A Dead Kitten? See Here

During the first three weeks, your queen will usually develop any postpartum issues. Every mother is different, so you should continue to monitor her and her kittens.

With kittens, pay special attention to any that sleep more than usual. It could be a sign of fading kitten syndrome.

Veterinarians arent sure of an exact cause, but these kittens require immediate medical attention.

Cat Had Kittens Outside Take Your Time And Youll Find Them

If a cat had kittens outside, its important to find them right away.

No amount of preparation on the mothers part can fully protect her or her kittens from predators, parasites, or the elements.

If she is your cat, youll want to be able to watch her and the kittens.

If shes feral, she and her kittens will need to be properly cared for as soon as possible to ensure the highest possibility of their survival. 

Attached Fetal Membrane Signs And Treatment

Sometimes, your cat will retain the placenta of one or more of her kittens. This occurs after her birthing process ends, but you might not notice the signs for hours after.

Symptoms vary from feline discomfort to green vaginal discharge and fever, according to . If your mothers cat shows these signs, take her to the vet. She could require further testing and antibiotics.

Cleaning Up The Dead Kitten

This is a common phenomenon during stillbirths. If a mother cat realizes that her baby is stillborn, she may continue licking and grooming it even after realizing that the kitten is dead. Having watched all of her other kittens move, the cat just cant believe that the other one is dead.

You may notice that the grooming is a bit rigorous, both to the live and dead kittens. The convention is not to interrupt the cat. Instead, give her some time to come to terms with her sad reality.

Eating The Dead Kitten

It may sound gross to humans, but theres nothing gross about a cat eating the dead body of her kitten. After giving birth to their litter, cats tend to chew the umbilical cord of every kitten. The behavior is instrumental in helping to facilitate blood clot in the umbilical cords.

Once a mother cat has chewed the umbilical cords of her newborn kittens, she will usually lick the kittens in a bid to try and clean them up. If she spots a motionless member of the litter, the mother cat may just eat it up.

Most cats are known to eat just one or a few of their kittens. However, other cats can choose to gobble up the whole litter. Again, that doesnt make your cat less of a mother and you shouldnt begin to think that she has degenerated into a savage cannibal.

There are numerous reasons why a cat may eat her dead kitten;

Its a way of protecting her body from being discovered by predators or other external threats, such as older cats.

The meat from her kitten provides nutrients that are dissolved in milk, which the other live kittens can benefit from. This usually happens when the cat is under-fed or malnourished.

Its a way of expressing mercy and sympathy for the kitten, especially if its stillborn or born with congenital defects. The cat doesnt want her young to experience challenges growing, so she decides to devour her.

Its a way of bringing closure much faster.

Is Eating Dead Or Living Kittens Normal For Mother Cats

Mother cats go through the loss and grieving process in diverse ways. However, all animals do not exhibit the same instincts as others when they lose their young.

There is no right or wrong way for cats to grieve.

They are born with certain parental instincts that set them apart from other animals. Kittens do not have to die before their mother eats them. Other circumstances can lead to mothers eating their kittens even if they are .

This is due to stress, malnutrition, fear, or danger surrounding the newborn kittens, first-time motherhood, or feline mastitis .

This condition can be painful as the condition can be passed on to the newborns. Some cats may not recognize their young if they are handled by humans during the first week of life.

Their scent is masked by other scents, making the kittens not recognizable by the mother. This causes the mother to confuse her kittens for that of prey rather than her offspring, putting the kittens in grave danger.

Should I Remove A Dead Kitten From The Litter

Yes, you should remove a dead kitten from a litter. 

A dead kitten will decompose and potentially cause infection in the other kittens or the mother cat. 

A dead kitten is a health hazard. Your cat may not want you to take the kitten they may growl and become protective the best bet in these circumstances is to lure the mother cat away with a meal and then remove the dead kitten whilst they are eating in all likelihood, the mother probably wont notice the dead kitten is missing on her return to the litter.

Is It Normal For Mother Cats To Eat Their Dead Kittens

Yes, eating their dead kittens is a normal behavior. It is very rate but a mother cat may to ingest the remains of its stillborn kitten. Although this is a distressing sight for humans, this is a normal behavior for animals.

In the wild, if a kitten does not survive the birth, their body can attract predators. Their decomposition also provides a serious hygiene risk to the surviving litter. By consuming the dead kitten, the mother will actually provide a better chance of survival for the others. 

A cat will also eat its placenta and afterbirth to get extra nutrients for milk production. Eating a weak or dead newborn kitten will act for the same purpose. This process may seem cruel, but it is a behavior rooted in deep biological instincts. 

What Does A Mother Cat Do With A Dead Kitten

What Does A Mother Cat Do With A Dead Kitten? The Answer ...

Even though cats have been domesticated for many years, they are still animals with many instincts. Becoming a parent brings out instincts for any animal, including for a mother cat.

The instincts for mother cats dont only apply to taking care of their live kittens. When a kitten is born dead or isnt strong enough to survive the first several days outside of the womb, a mother cat knows what to do. Their behavior toward that kitten might surprise you.

What Should I Do When She Finishes Delivering Her Kittens

Once delivery is completed, the soiled newspapers should be removed from the queening box. The cleaned box should be lined with soft bedding prior to the kittens’ return. The mother should accept the kittens readily and roll over on her side for nursing.

Your veterinarian should examine the mother and her litter within twenty-four hours after the delivery. This visit is to ensure that there are no undelivered kittens, and to determine if milk production is adequate. The mother may receive an injection of the hormone oxytocin to contract the uterus and stimulate milk production.

The mother will have a bloody vaginal discharge for several days following delivery. If it continues for longer than one week, your veterinarian should examine her, since she might be experiencing postpartum complications such as a retained placenta.

Is It Ok To Touch New Born Kittens

Can you touch newborn kittens? Yes, you may touch them for at least a minute or two. However, cat experts advise that you should avoid touching newborn kittens unless theres a very good reason to do so such as if theyre in distress, not moving or breathing, and not suckling milk within two hours after birth.

Mother Cats Will Bury Their Kitten

Finally and perhaps the most surprising, a mother cat might bury her kitten. She instinctively knows that the kitten might be dead for some kind of health reason and wants to move the body a safe distance from their other kittens.

She might bury it, or if she has quite a few live kittens left, she will take it away from them and abandon it. If she doesnt have live kittens and sometimes, even if she does her grieving process might be burying her kitten and lying over the burial spot for hours.

Kitten Abandoned By Its Mother: How To Manage

In the vast majority of cases, cats look after their litter perfectly. They are instinctively caring. There are, however, withdrawals and in this type of situation, the teacher must react very quickly. Let’s review the reasons that can lead a cat to abandon a kitten, or even the whole litter, and see what the master must absolutely do to replace the mother with the little ones.

Why Do Male Cats Kill Kittens

The primal objective of a male cat is to continue its bloodline and pass on its genetics. In reaction to this, a male cat may kill kittens that are not from his bloodline, to bring the female into heat, so that he can breed with her to produce his own kittens. Male cats may also kill kittens for territorial reasons.

General Approach Investigating Kitten Mortality

Determining the cause of fading kittens can be very difficult, and many cases are multifactorial. Clinical signs are also generally non-specific and the small size of kittens makes collection of samples difficult. Generally, concern should be raised when pre-weaning kitten losses exceed 20%, post-weaning losses exceed 10%, the number of losses suddenly increases, or a particular cause of death is seen more frequently. Careful records of all animals should always be kept in a breeding cattery, and all diseases and deaths should be noted.

Investigation usually involves looking at the entire cattery. In many cases it is possible to improve some aspect of the environment, management, and/or nutrition of the kittens. A full investigation will include looking at:

  • The background and history of the cattery
  • Evaluation of the environment
  • Evaluation of cattery management, including hygiene, disinfection, stocking density, feeding, vaccination, worming etc.
  • Examination of both sick and healthy kittens
  • Potentially collection of blood samples or swabs from kittens, and/or a post-mortem examination of any dead kitten the latter can be particularly helpful
  • Examination of breeding queens, particularly the mothers of any fading kittens

Large Litter Of Kittens

Some litters can be so large that the mother does not have enough teats to feed all of her kittens. She may also not produce enough milk to feed everyone. The mother may favor the stronger ones and reject the smaller, weaker ones. Once again, do not put rejected kittens back in the nest. Mother and kittens should see the vet as soon as possible. Rejected kittens should be bottle-fed and kept warm in the meantime.

Why Is My Cat So Mean To Her Kittens

What Does A Mother Cat Do With A Dead Kitten? The Answer ...

It is Normal behavior for Mother Cats. They get cranky and have health issues that cause them temporary pain and discomfort. When the kittens are being too annoying or playing too close to her, she may swat at them to try to get them to scram, and go somewhere else. The kittens are Not affected, in the least, usually.

Why Does My Cat Bring Her Young To Me

Another common situation after a cat gives birth is to observe them moving her kittens towards you. This is because you are their family. As a cat guardian you will have provided everything they need for years. If a cat fears their kittens are in some danger or discomfort, they may bring them to you to feel secure.

If your cat does bring their kittens to you for the above reason, then you should try to find somewhere better for them. Assess where they were previously and try to work out the problem. Even if you can’t see any obvious issue, try to make a new place which feels comfortable. Remember they often don’t like areas which are too high or too soft. A cat which does not have a sufficient space to mother may reject their newborn kittens and stop feeding them. Another solution may be to move their den somewhere closer to you so you can keep a better eye on them .

Similarly, a dependency issue may make a mother cat take her young to you. Although cats are excellent mothers, they are also independent animals. This partly allows them to properly care for their young without our intervention. However, a cat which has become overdependent on us may lack some ability in caring for their kittens. It is usually unintentional, but the result is that the cat seeks help to care for her kittens. This is why they may be bringing them to you.

Should I Leave The Newborn Kittens With The Queen While She Continues To Give Birth

It may be helpful to have a smaller box lined with a warm towel for the newborn kittens. A slightly damp towel can be warmed in a microwave oven. After each kitten is stable and dry, it should be placed in the incubator box while the mother is completing delivery of the other kittens. Warmth is essential, so a heating pad or towel-wrapped hot water bottle may be placed in the box, or a heat lamp may be placed nearby. If a heating pad is used, it should be placed on the lowest setting and covered with a towel to prevent overheating. Likewise, caution should be exercised when using a heat lamp, since newborn kittens may be unable to move away from the heat source.

What Does A Mother Cat Do With A Dead Kitten Will She Mourn It Or Just Let It Go

Do you really want to know if a mother cat would suffer if she loses one of her kids?

Mama left her kittens inside a box at around 7am but when she returned, just five hours later, she discovered that her two kittens were already dead.

She was found by locals pacing back and forth, meowing incessantly near her lifeless offspring.

Both kittens were stabbed to death by an unknown assailant.

The mother refused to leave, even after locals tried to help her.

So, back to the question

There are some typical behaviors that a mother cat may exhibit when dealing with the death of a offspring. One of the first things she would to is licking her kitten.

You see, licking the kittens is the mother cats instinctive behavior after giving birth. It will rigorously lick and groom each kitten. Licking the kittens stimulates breathing, helps to remove any remaining placenta and helps to remove liquid from the kittens lungs. The grooming can look quite violent and vigorous but it is normal and necessary.

When a mother cat sees its kitten not moving or breathing, she will lick and cuddle the kitten to try to get it to respond. It may do it for quite some time until she gives up and abandons the kitten to take care of the surviving ones.

In contrast, some mother cats are overprotective of their young. They will not allow anyone, even their pet parent to come near their kittens, dead or alive.

So, answering the question: she surely will suffer. A lot.


If The Cat Is Injured

If the cat is unconscious, getting them to a vet urgently should be your priority. Phone the vet in advance so they know you are on your way and can prepare. Wrap them in a warm blanket or towel to keep them warm on the journey, being careful that you dont cover their head. You can also report an injured animal to the RSPCA in England and Wales or its equivalent in Scotland or Northern Ireland. The vet may also ask you to contact the RSPCA if you are in England or Wales to get a log number so the RSPCA will pay some of the cost.

RSPCA 0300 1234 999

SSPCA 03000 999 999

USPCA 028 3025 1000

Mastitis Signs And Treatment

Mastitis is an inflamed mammary gland. It can occur with or without a present infection, but the condition is painful for your cat.

You can care for an uninfected gland at home by applying heat and massage to extract the milk. This generally clears the condition, and your cat resumes normal nursing.

How can you tell the difference between infected mastitis and non-infected? Look at the teats discharge and the teat itself.

If the teat appears purple or deep red, its infected. If the discharge is a thick, green-yellow consistency, its infected. If your cat is running a fever, lethargic, crying out in pain, and not eating, its infected.

If you notice signs of infection, you should seek out a vet immediately. Dont try to drain the abscess at home.

Leaving The Dead Kitten

The death of one kitten is enough to plunge a mother cat into grief. However, the cat must soon decide between being consumed with grief and attending to her other live kittens.

On a long enough timeline, the mother cat will leave the dead body of her kitten to its own devices. In the case of feral cats, this decision is usually made sooner rather than later.

But even after abandoning the body of her dead kitten, the cat will still revisit the same spot where she lost her young from time to time. Even though she has moved on, it may take some time to get over the loss completely.

Found A Dead Cat In Your Garden Or On The Street Our Expert Guide Tells You Everything You Need To Know

Finding a dead cat, whether in a road traffic accident or in your garden or grounds, can be a distressing experience. While difficult to face, there is likely to be an anxious owner looking for their beloved pet or at the very least, peace of mind. If you have found a cat and youre concerned about what to do next, take a look at our expert guide for more advice.

Frequency And Capacity Of Feeding Bottles For Each Kitten

Why do Mother Cats Kill or Eat their Kittens

The number of bottles must be strictly observed according to the advice of the veterinarian who was taken care to contact as soon as possible. The number of feeds gradually decreases, but the bottles must be given at regular times because the intervals between two intakes of artificial milk must be observed. Generally, this rhythm is established by a period of 24 hours, week after week, the meals being however a little closer together during the day than at night. As for the dose of milk, it must also be very precise and adapted to the weight of each kitten.


20 ml / 100 g

4 th week 

4 milk intakes in a bowl + a little water in free access because the kitten now knows how to lap. Mixed feeding can begin.

22 ml of milk / 100 g


These dosages are of course only given for information. In any case, the veterinarian’s recommendations must be respected from the birth of the kitties, which are transmitted on a case-by-case basis.  

From the 5 th week of life until the kittens are weaned, the more we give does each small 3 or 4 servings of milk per day in addition to kibble specially developed for kittens during weaning. The quantity of milk and solid food is to be determined by the veterinarian. Be careful never to wean the kitties too early as this will lead to digestive problems.    

Caring for kittens abandoned by the cat


What Happens If My Cat Has Trouble Delivering Her Kittens

Although most cats deliver without need for human assistance, problems may arise which require professional veterinary assistance. Seek immediate assistance if any of the following occur:

  • Twenty minutes of intense labor occur without delivery of a kitten.
  • A fluid-filled bubble becomes visible at the vaginal opening.
  • The mother experiences sudden depression or marked lethargy.
  • The mother’s rectal temperature exceeds 103ºF .
  • You see a fresh bloody discharge from the vagina that lasts for more than ten minutes.

Difficulty delivering is called dystocia and may be managed with or without surgery. The condition of the mother, size of the litter, and size of the kittens are factors used in making that decision.

What Happens If A Kitten Is Stillborn

It is not uncommon for one or two kittens in a litter to be stillborn. Sometimes, a stillborn kitten will disrupt labor, resulting in dystocia. At other times, the dead kitten will be delivered normally. In almost all cases, there is something wrong with the stillborn kitten, such as a developmental abnormality or birth defect.

Contributors: Ryan Llera, BSc, DVM; Ernest Ward, DVM

The Feline Birthing Process

The average feline pregnancy lasts approximately 8-9 weeks. A few days before delivery, the mother will become restless, more vocal, and seek a safe nesting place for the kittening process. Once contractions begin, delivery of the first kitten will usually begin within an hour. The time between each kitten’s birth should be less than an hour and may be as little as 10 minutes. Occasionally, a cat may deliver a few kittens, then wait 24 hours to deliver the remaining ones. Litters range from one to eight kittens with three to four being the average.

As each kitten travels through the birth canal, it sloughs off the amniotic sac surrounding it. After each birth, the mother licks off the remainder of the sac. Her licking around the nose and mouth also stimulates the kitten to begin breathing on its own. The mother also chews off the umbilical cord.

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