Do Cats Eat Other Cats?

Do Cats Eat Other Cats

Cats often get into conflicts with fellow cats, especially among feral colonies. However, it is quite rare that the fights will escalate to a vicious attack or death to one of the cats. More so, it is uncommon that one of the cats will eat the fatally wounded one. Do cats tend to become cannibals and eat other cats? This may sound like a far-fetched idea but it is possible.

Do cats eat other cats?

No, cats do not eat other cats in a normal scenario. However, they may be driven to do that for survival in very dire circumstances. There is a famous case where a domestic cat ate other cats to survive in Australia in 2016 when a cat owner abandoned her cats which were locked up inside the house.  

In the wild may attack and kill another cat species when food is very scarce such as during a famine or after a big forest fire, mainly as a question of survival. However, cats eating other cats is very uncommon since they can easily catch small prey for food if they have access to the outdoors.

Do cats eat their kittens?

Yes, cats tend to eat their kittens in certain circumstances and it is common for mama cats to eat the placenta of their kittens.  

Cats may eat their kittens for the following reasons:

1. It may be because a kitten is ill, has deformities or a stillborn

A mama cat may kill and eat her young if she senses that a kittens is ill or has deformities.  Like dogs, cats have keen senses an can sense when something is wrong with their litter. A mother cat may also eat her kitten if the kitten is stillborn. She may also eat it to protect the rest of the kittens and also because a decomposing kitten may pose a hygiene risk and attract predators to her nest.

2. It may be due to stress

Just like humans, cats are also prone to stress especially during and after giving birth to their young. Environmental stressors may include loud noises and too much interaction from people and other animals. This may cause sensory overload and makes a mama cat become anxious and stressed. 

Feral mama cats may eat their kittens if they feel that their young are in danger due to predators lurking in the area. 

Mama cats may also eat their young after stressful labor and delivery. They may do this to nourish and replenish themselves of lost energy. Stressful breastfeeding may also pose as a factor as it requires energy and may be very exhausting for a mama cat. Nursing cats were also found to have elevated cortisol levels. 

3. It may be due to inexperience or confusion

First-time mother cats may be confused and inexperienced about what to do when they give birth. Not knowing how to properly care for their kittens may lead them to unintentionally hurt their litter. Cats normally release prolactin during pregnancy and delivery of their young. Prolactin is the nurturing hormone that is responsible for the close bond between the mother and her young. However, the release of this hormone may be delayed which may explain why some first-time mother cats are not nurturing their young and may see them as threats or prey. 

4. It may be due to malnourishment or lack of nutrition. 

A mama cat may eat the placenta of her kittens for its nutritional benefits as it is a rich source of protein, iron, fiber and potassium. It is also believed to increase a nursing cat’s milk supply. Similarly, a mother cat may eat one or more kittens if she is undernourished or starving. Thus, to prevent this from happening, make sure that you feed your nursing cat well. 

5. She may be suffering from feline mastitis.  

Feline mastitis is a painful condition due to inflamed mammary glands brought about by a bacterial infection that may also affect the litter. A mother cat may discontinue nursing her young and ignore them. The excruciating pain may also prompt a mother cat to eat her young. 

6. It may be because she does not recognize her kittens. 

While the mother’s instinct is very strong, sometimes a mother cat won’t be able to recognize her young since she cannot detect her scent on them. Cats rely on smell to identify their litter and mother cats lick their newborn kittens so that her scent will be imprinted on them. However, the scent may become unrecognizable or masked if the kittens were handled too soon by humans or were disturbed by other animals. 

Humans should refrain from handling and touching newborn kittens to avoid this unfortunate scenario.

You may also check our earlier articles on what does a mother cat do with a dead kitten  and when do mother cats leave their kittens for more detail.

Do male cats eat their kittens?

No, male cats do not eat the kittens that they sire although this may happen in rare circumstances such as due to extreme starvation.  However, there are instances where male cats eat kittens that are not theirs to prompt a nursing female cat to mate. They may also eat kittens because of territorial reasons.

Final thoughts 

While it is not a normal occurrence, cats may eat other cats in a desperate bid for survival. This behavior is very uncommon though since cats normally can catch small prey if they have access to the outdoors. Mother cats may eat their kittens on rare occasions especially if their young are stillborn, deformed or very sick which is considered normal feline behavior. 

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