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Will a Female Cat Kill a Kitten? (Look Out For This..)

If you have a new kitten you may be wondering if a female cat is even capable of hurting or even killing it.

Will a female cat kill a kitten?

Although it is quite rare for a female cat can kill a kitten. This could be its own or from another mother. Several reasons could make this happen such as the kitten being deformed, not responding, stress, etc.

So, now you know it is possible but rare. So, what other things could trigger this harsh behavior? Why would a mother cat reject her kittens? Could a kitten be killed for being touched by you? Keep reading for these answers, and much more…

4 Things that could trigger a female cat to kill:

Will a female cat kill a kitten?

An angry-looking female cat.

As discussed earlier several things could trigger a female cat to kill a kitten. Here are some details of how it might happen:

01. Kitten is not responding

If a newborn kitten is not responding to its mother she could assume it’s either dead or suffering. And, in this circumstance, it may reject or even kill it.

Cats are not like humans. They do not have the same emotional bond as us and can make a practical decisions without emotion.

02. Stress

If a new mother cat (queen) is stressed out, maybe if she had her litter young, she may not be able to deal with her kittens. This could lead to her neglecting, rejecting, or even killing her kittens.

03. Threatened

If a kitten is seen as a threat to the female cat it could kill the kitten. This is more likely if it’s not her kitten. For example, a new kitten in your home is disrupting her routine with her owner.

04. No personal space

Similar to feeling threatened, as explained above, if she is feeling that her personal space is being violated a female cat could also be triggered to kill.

Cats love their territory and will fight to keep it. This is why they spray and pee on the furniture, like sofas, etc.

This is why something like a kitten, deemed as a threat to her personal space, could be treated in this manner.

Why would a mother cat reject her kitten?

As well as being triggered to kill a female cat could simply reject her kittens. Again, this is not normal, never the less, it can happen. Here are some reasons why this may happen:

01. Avoid spreading a disease

If the female cat fears that one of her kittens has a disease, and there is a chance of it spreading to the rest of her litter, she may reject it.

This seems harsh and to us it is. But, the mother takes the practical decision to save her other kittens and avoid the disease. Also, if she gets sick it could affect her being able to feed her other kittens.

02. Deformity

Another reason for rejecting her kittens is their deformity. Means, that if one of her kittens is deformed she may decide it won’t survive and simply reject it.

03. Unable to feed her kittens

Sometimes a mother cat may develop an infection on her feeding nipple, similar to a human mother.

During this time she may be unable to feed her kittens. This could lead to rejection, or just seem that way because she is temporarily unable to.

04. Too many kittens

If a queen has too many kittens in her litter this can lead to her rejecting some of the kittens. The reasoning here is she may struggle to feed all of the kittens that she has.

Will a cat kill its newborn kitten if they are touched?

A domesticated mother cat is not expected to kill a newborn kitten (What about other cats? Click here) if it is touched. This is because they are used to a human’s presence and it will not affect them.

This is a rumor that has been passed around. It may come from other animals’ behavior and is assumed to affect domestic cats.

How long after a cat has kittens can you touch them?

The ASPCA suggests that it is OK to handle kittens from birth, according to this site, however, it is advised to wait a week or two to do so.

If you think about it the mother kitten needs time to get herself comfortable and establish a routine with the kittens before they are touched or tampered with.

This is quite similar to a human mother with her newborn baby. She will not appreciate a lot of guests immediately after she has given birth. She will want some time to regain her strength and establish a bond with the baby.

Can cats suffocate their kittens?

Cats can suffocate their kittens. However, this is usually an accident. For example, if they are exhausted after giving birth and stressed out they could fall asleep on one of her kittens.

This is sad but not intentional. Sometimes a mother cat could be stressed by the young kitten’s demand for milk and not producing enough to meet their hunger.

What does a mother cat do with a dead kitten?

If a kitten happens to die a mother cat may eat the kitten to stop another animal from eating it. In the wild, this may be done to stop their predators from finding their location.

Again, another sad story, but it is one of those weird behaviors that nature presents us.

Can adult cats pass on diseases to kittens?

Adult cats can pass on diseases to kittens. These could be diseases or harmful parasites. The problem is while the kitten is young and unvaccinated it could become seriously ill from it, or even die.

This is one of the reasons that they need vaccination at a certain age. And, also why they are not advised to go outside until they have had them.

Could a young queen be a liability to her kittens?

A young queen can be a liability to her kittens. This could be for several reasons such as:

01. Immature

If the young mother cat is immature it may not adapt to the demands of being a mother. Such as the constant need to supply milk and keep herself fed to produce enough milk.

02. Traumatic birth

If the birth is quite traumatic she may find it hard to recover after. And, as an animal, they have little support to mentally deal with this, especially if they are feral cats.

03. Poor environment.

If the young mother is in a poor environment, such as in the wild or in a poor domestic house she may struggle to deal with the kittens she has.

04. Struggling to produce enough milk

Another issue could be the struggle to provide enough milk for the kittens. The demand for milk could be quite a lot and more than she could handle.

Can a female cat feed a kitten that is not hers?

A female cat can feed a kitten that is not hers. The amount of milk produced may not be enough to meet a kitten’s demands but it might help a desperate kitten who needs feeding right away.

This assumes that the cat bonds with the kitten. A female cat could just as easily not take to the kitten (what about a male cat? click here) and refuse to play this surrogate role. So, it would need to be evaluated on a cat-by-cat basis.

Will a mother cat take another cat’s kittens?

Say what you will about cats, but for the most part, they seem to love kittens, even poor orphaned ones. While it is certainly possible that a cat will be hostile to another cat’s kittens, it’s more common that female cats and even some male cats will take charge or raise the little ones as their own.

Queens who have lost their kittens may start raising unrelated ones and males sometimes protect little ones and even teach them how to hunt.

It ultimately depends on the cat, but if we had to be general about it, it’s mostly accurate to say that kitten cuteness is a powerful thing – older cats might initially be rude to kittens and even slap them a time or two, but kitten cuteness is a powerful thing and even cats tend to find themselves under its spell.

Will an older female cat accept a kitten?

Yes, an older female may start feeling maternal to a kitten, and she might even start lactating. Even cats that haven’t given birth can experience ‘false pregnancy’ symptoms and start lactating in response to the kitten’s suckling.

While it’s not guaranteed that she’ll produce milk, your kitten should already be eating solids unless it was abandoned by another cat before you found it. If that is the case, check with your vet, as you may need to nurse the kitten with formula on your own and you’ll need to supervise all interactions with the adult.

While it’s unlikely that the older female will hurt the kitten, it’s still possible that she might do this out of jealousy or an overly developed feeling of territoriality. You can help things along by giving the older female extra attention and treats so that she associated this kitten with happy times and starts to relax more when around it.

Do female cats prefer male or female kittens?

Gender won’t factor into it, so female cats who meet a new kitten will take to a male just as easily as a female. It might take a little time, however, so keep this in mind.

Some cats take to little ones immediately, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll even like the kitten, and it could take months for them to learn to tolerate the bouncy littler interloper that you’ve brought into the house. That said, the gender won’t matter, so don’t worry about that part!

Can female cats switch from ‘hunting mode’ to ‘play mode’ with kittens?

White kittens playing with their mother.

White kittens playing with their mother.

Yes, female cats switch between ‘play mode’ and ‘hunting mode’, so as not to accidentally harm their little kittens.

Males can do this as well, but they are not always as good at it. Some Toms, even neutered ones, are wired to go from ‘fun kitty’ to ‘death machine’ in the blink of an eye, and so you’ll want to watch them with the kittens quite a lot until you are satisfied that they won’t lose their composure during play.

If they do, then you may need to separate them and spend a lot of time supervising play sessions and reinforcing good behavior with treats until your Tom can learn to calm down. You shouldn’t have a problem with the females, though – they have much better control of themselves than the males.

Do female cats take to kittens?

Yes, female cats can take to kittens, and even males can do this – but it’s not a guaranteed thing. If you bring a new kitten home, then you need to be prepared to put in a lot of time playing with the cat and kitten and supervising all visits until you know that they are bonded.

Watch for grooming – if they are grooming each other, then there is a trust bond in place and you can relax your guard with the female. With males, supervise an extra week after grooming just to make sure, as they have a harder time controlling themselves when play gets too intense.

What do I do when my older cat attacks my kitten?

Some say the easiest way to safely separate them is with a water toy and then a quick grab of the kitten while you have gloves on and something with thick sleeves.

However, some may not like this approach. Also, even if you are OK with it, don’t use the water toy in this way on a regular basis – spraying your cat with the water toy for giggles is going to make them resentful and that’s a fair response on their part. After you’ve separated them, all visits and playtimes need to be supervised and give the adult extra attention and more treats than you give the kitten.

This will help to build up happy associations with you, the kitten, and playing, and your adult cat will eventually ‘come around’ towards at least tolerating the kitten’s presence and who knows? They might even become the best of friends!

Lindsey Browlingdon