Cats can seem like solitary creatures, but do they ever care for other cats, particularly kittens? As it turns out, the answer to this question is yes—sometimes cats care for other kittens. However, this behavior isn’t necessarily common. Hence, it’s essential to understand when and why it occurs to understand better why your cat may be taking care of another kitten.
Do cats take care of other kittens?
Cats are naturally maternal creatures and often display a strong protective instinct toward their young.
The role of the mother cat begins in the delivery of her kittens and can continue through fostering or adopting other kittens who need care and attention.
Many cats have been known to take care of unrelated kits, even if they are housed in the same space.
Evidence suggests that cats can also act as surrogate mothers, providing sustenance and nurturing to their own and newfound kittens in their immediate vicinity.
Adopted kittens taken into a household with an existing female cat will undoubtedly benefit from having a “mom” watching out for them.
What Is Foster Parenting?
Foster parenting is a term used to describe an animal taking care of offspring that aren’t their own.
This behavior has been observed in cats more often than any other species and is thought to occur due to a combination of instinctual behavior and maternal hormones. In most cases, female cats will foster parent-baby kittens that are not their own and may be related to them if they come from the same litter.
How Does It Work?
This behavior usually occurs when a mother cat is unable or unwilling to take care of her offspring.
The fostering cat then steps in and takes over the role of parent, providing food, shelter, protection, and socialization for the kittens until they are old enough to fend for themselves or until a new mother cat can be found for them.
This behavior is thought to be instinctive—cats naturally want to protect their young and ensure that they survive.
Why Would My Cat Take Care Of Another Kitten?
Your cat may have taken on the role of a foster parent because she senses an opportunity for her offspring (or even herself) to benefit from having another kitten around.
This could include providing companionship or playing with her existing kittens and teaching them how to hunt and defend themselves against predators.
Additionally, some cats may foster parent another kitten simply because they have an inherent desire to nurture others—just like humans.
How hard is it to get a cat to adopt other kittens?
Introducing other kittens to an adopted cat can be a challenging task.
Even if the cat is used to living with others, it could still take some adjustment time for them to grow accustomed to the change in environment and routine.
It’s important to note that cats are creatures of habit, so try slowly introducing the other kitten to an area where your adopted cat already feels comfortable.
Ensure all their supplies — food bowls, litter boxes, toys, and beds — are easily accessible.
Doing so will create an atmosphere of safety and security for both cats, allowing them to cohabitate together without feeling threatened by one another more easily.
Another helpful strategy is to provide plenty of entertainment that encourages activity and interaction with the new arrival; this will create companionship instead of competition, creating a stronger bond between the two cats over time.
Do cats hurt kittens from other cats?
It’s a common misconception that cats hurt kittens from other cats.
In reality, cats are usually very gentle with younger kittens and may even share resources to help raise them.
Although mother cats can become aggressive if their kittens are threatened, this aggression is typically centered on possible environmental predators rather than directed toward their offspring.
Cats have extremely powerful maternal instincts and may swat at their young ones in situations such as teething or playing too roughly, but the swats are almost always meant more for guidance than to harm the kitten.
While it’s true that cats don’t typically take on the role of foster parents very often, there are certain situations where it can happen. If you notice your cat taking care of another kitten in your home or outside in nature, rest assured that she is likely doing so out of instinctual maternal instincts combined with some innate desire for companionship and protection for her offspring (or even herself).
Understanding why your cat may be taking care of another kitten can help you better appreciate the unique bond between felines and help you provide all the love and support needed for both cats during this special time.