Why do mother cats abandon/try to kill some of their kittens?

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It can be heartbreaking to witness mother cats abandoning or even killing their kittens as a pet owner. This behavior may seem strange and confusing, but some rational explanations exist. This blog post will delve into why mother cats may display this kind of behavior toward their young.


Why do mother cats abandon/try to kill some of their kittens?


Unfortunately, mother cats sometimes abandon or even try to kill particular kittens.

This is not a matter of a mother cat lacking maternal instinct — it is a behavioral mechanism meant to ensure that all the kittens have enough resources to live.

A mother cat can find herself in situations where she may not be able to provide for her whole litter, so this behavior helps promote the survival of at least some of the offspring.

In other instances, the killing or abandoning of kittens may indicate that something about them forced exclusion.

An unhealthy kitten, for example, may be left behind due to its weak state or because it carries an illness that the mother was trying her best to protect her other offspring from catching.


Cats are Instinctive Creatures


It is important to remember that cats are instinctive creatures with strong maternal instincts. Therefore, one of the most common reasons why cats will abandon or even kill one of their litter is due to a perceived threat that they feel when caring for their kittens.

Cats fiercely protect their young and will do whatever it takes to ensure they stay safe. If a cat senses any real or perceived danger, she may try to defend her kittens by removing them from the situation or attempting to eliminate the perceived threat.

Sometimes, a mother cat may abandon or try to kill one of her kittens if she feels overwhelmed by caring for them all at once.

Mother cats can only produce enough milk for so many kittens, so if she has too many babies in her litter, she may not have enough resources to provide adequate care. In these cases, she may try to reduce the size of her litter to give the remaining kittens a better chance at survival.


Health Problems May Also Contribute


In some cases, health problems such as hypocalcemia (low calcium) could contribute to a mother cat’s decision-making regarding her litter.

Hypocalcemia can cause erratic behavior and confusion in cats who experience it, which could lead them to make decisions they usually wouldn’t make—such as abandoning or killing some of their offspring.

If you suspect your cat is suffering from hypocalcemia (or any other medical condition), you should contact your veterinarian for treatment advice and assistance as soon as possible.


How typical is this behavior?


The sad truth is that it’s common for mother cats to abandon or even try to kill some of their kittens.

Though this behavior is complex and not fully understood, some experts believe a lack of resources can bring on such maternal aggression.

Low food intake or a stressful environment may lead a cat to take drastic action like abandoning her young or even killing them, though a mother cat may still nurse the surviving offspring.

Other theories speculate that certain hormones released during labor or birth could impact the mother’s mental state and cause her to reject her kittens after birth.

Nonetheless, it’s important to remember that this type of maternal aggression can have deeper causes and should be addressed swiftly with professional veterinary help.


Can this be prevented?


To help prevent a mother cat from abandoning or killing her kittens, it is essential to closely monitor the environment of the mother cat and the litter.

Keep an eye on their living space’s cleanliness and ensure food and water are consistently available.

Additionally, if possible, try to keep humans away from the cats, as too much human contact can be intimidating for them.

Interacting with the mother cat frequently also helps increase bonding and keeps her from feeling stressed or scared, which could lead to separation issues.

If a mother becomes too aggressive towards her litter, separate the kittens until she calms down. You can help ensure a safe environment for mother cats and their kittens with patience and vigilance.




Mother cats can be fierce protectors and loving caregivers when it comes to their litters; however, there are times when a mother cat might abandon or even attempt to kill one or more of her kittens due to perceived threats or overwhelming circumstances beyond her control.

By understanding why these behaviors occur, pet owners can be better equipped to respond appropriately if they ever witness this behavior in their feline companions. If you suspect any health issues related to your cat’s behavior, don’t hesitate—to contact your veterinarian immediately.

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