Why do male cats kill kittens? and come to that Why do male cats eat kittens? I am sorry to say that even, sometimes, mother (mom) cats kill and eat their kittens (babies). If you do own cats you might have gone through this situation.
I am sure you are thinking; Why did my cat kill her kittens… In this post, we hope to shed some light on the phenomenon and cover all you need to know about your cats and their safety. You will go through at “What age are kittens safe from tomcats” and “Why do cats eat their kittens after birth”?
When we have cats as domestic pets or even in feral situations we tend to think of them as solitary animals. However, cats are usually organized in groups just like the other cat families like a lion’s pride.
Cat family groups are usually matriarchal and dominated by a female. The males are only welcome when one of the females is available for mating or is on heat. It is uncommon to have a resident male cat as the leader.
Why Do Male Cats kill Kittens?
Tomcats usually establish their territory and want to control it. This may be groups of female cats that he has control over along with deterring other male cats from coming into this territory.
This establishment of territory may include killing any kittens which may have been fathered by another male cat and have the genetic makeup of the rival male.
This happens to many other social animals too, few of the males will use their energy to raise the offspring of another male that is their rival.
Why cats eat their kittens after birth?
Cats have a great sense of scent that helps them to determine any intruders in their territory. If a tomcat gets the scent of a rival tomcat he may decide the kittens belong to the visiting tomcat.
This may cause him to kill all the kittens that have been born. They do not want the females to raise kittens that belong to his rivals. This ensures that the females also come on heat much faster and he can ensure mating with them again so the kittens henceforth are his.
When a tomcat takes over a new territory originally owned by another tomcat either dead or non-competitive, the new tomcat may be driven to kill the kittens that are in the new territory. He can then father kittens that are his own.
Tomcats are behaviorally like lions
Tomcats behave very much like lions. A roaming tomcat is not always certain if kittens belong to them especially in an area where they are competing over females.
Having said that there are some situations where males kill the kittens they sired. This means the mothers have the responsibility of hiding their kittens when they are still vulnerable to the attack of the tomcat.
There are some tomcats that are benevolent in their approach and are considered to lack the instinctive nature or it may not have been developed well. This could be a result of a lack of other tomcats around resulting in them being less reactive.
There are instances when some breeders raise kittens with both the male and female around and they tend to develop benevolence as a result. Their hormonal state makes them tolerate kittens from another male and only drive them away by fighting as the kittens develop sexually.
Tomcats do not usually contribute to the raising of kittens but there are a few instances when some toms tend to the young ones, supply their food, and are willing to play with them. However few toms would take up the responsibility of mothering kittens and the duties that come with it.
Why do cats (male/female) Eat their Kittens?
While some Toms may be benevolent when it comes to playtime there can be problems. They can end up hurting the kittens during playtime as they don’t know how to differentiate when it is playtime and hunting time.
Most toms do not know how to change between these modes. When the play goes overboard, they can get highly aroused and become violent. Their hunting instincts kick in and they may attempt to kill the kittens.
Toms like most other animals of prey have strong hunting instincts and once activated are hard to be switched off. This is another reason why they may end up eating the kitten.
Cats killing Kittens- Reason #1
Cats usually exhibit neck biting behaviors especially when the mothers are lifting the kitten to move them from one place to another. Neck biting is also exhibited when the cats are mating and showing dominance.
At some point, a tomcat may try to assert its dominance over the kitten especially the unruly ones that keep on disturbing it. In asserting their dominance, they may end up breaking the neck of the kitten.
Male Cats killing Kittens (Sexual Advances)- Reason #2
A tomcat can be attracted to a nursing female cat due to her hormonal state. These hormones may invite sexual advances from tomcats but she is not ready to mate. Her rejection of the tomcat could cause it to be frustrated and attempt to mount her by force and the energy may break the neck of the kitten.
Male Cats kill Kittens due to sound Similarity to Prey
The size and the sound that is produced by the kitten is similar to that produced by prey. They are both small in size and also produce high pitched sounds and make fast movements that are similar to that of prey.
These characteristics trigger a tomcat’s hunting instincts and they end up eating the kittens just the same way they would treat prey.
Even tomcats that are not aggressive can see kittens as prey because of their size and movement.
At what age are kittens safe from tomcats?
Your Kittens are safe from the above situations once they gain weight up to 2 pounds or when a kitten is 8 to 12 weeks after the birth.
Tomcats are usually not present to protect their offspring, though a colony male tom may drive away any intruders that may try to come in their territory mostly to protect their space rather than to secure the young ones.
Most kitten attacks usually happen at a time when the female is away from the nest as it has been seen commonly that any nesting female drives away any males that may try to attack.