Why Do Mother Cats Bite Their Kittens? (Should You Worry?)
As my sister is completely new to having cats, I thought it would be best to give her a quick guide on the basics of cat care. One important topic that often gets overlooked is how to deal with biting.
Many people don’t realize that mom cats sometimes need to bite their babies in order to teach them proper boundaries. It might seem cruel, but it’s actually a form of tough love that helps the kitten understand how to interact with other cats.
If you see your mom cat biting her kitten, don’t intervene unless it looks like she’s causing serious harm. Chances are, she’s just trying to teach her little one a lesson.
So here in this blog post I’ll be talking about why mom cats bite their kittens, and what you can do to stop it from happening.
7 Possible Reasons Why Do Mother Cats Bite Their Kittens
One of the first things that happens when a kitten is born is that its mother starts to lick it clean. She also does this to stimulate her kittens to urinate and defecate.
In some cases, though, licking isn’t enough and the mother cat will actually bite her kitten’s belly. While this behavior might seem cruel, there are actually a few possible reasons why does mom cat bite her kitten.
Here I’ll try to dive deeper into the reasons behind this behavior so that you can better understand your cat’s actions.
1. To Stimulate Urination and Defecation
As I mentioned before, one potential reason for why does mom cat bite her kitten is to stimulate urination and defecation. Newborn kittens are unable to urinate or defecate on their own, so their mothers need to help them out.
The mother cat does this by licking her kitten’s genital area and anus. In some cases, though, licking isn’t enough and the mother will actually bite the kitten’s belly. This biting helps to stimulate the muscles needed for urination and defecation.
2. To Teach the Kitten Proper Social Behavior
Another potential reason for why does mom cat bite her kitten is to teach it proper social behavior. Biting is a natural part of feline socialization, and mom cats will often use it to discipline their kittens.
Biting can help the kitten learn appropriate boundaries, and it can also teach the kitten how to properly interact with other cats. In some cases, mom cats will even bite their kittens in order to get them to stop suckling too much.
3. To Get the Kitten’s Attention
In some cases, mom cats will bite their kittens simply to get their attention. This is especially common when the kitten is doing something that the mother doesn’t approve of, such as suckling too much or climbing on her back.
Biting can be an effective way to get the kitten’s attention and redirect its behavior. However, it’s important to note that this type of biting should not be too severe. Otherwise, it could scare or hurt the kitten.
4. To Release Excess Energy
In some cases, mom cats will bite their kittens as a way to release excess energy. This is most common in young mothers who are still getting used to motherhood.
Biting can be a way for the mother to burn off excess energy, and it can also help her to bond with her kittens.
5. To Mark Her Territory
In some cases, mom cats will bite their kittens as a way to mark their territory. This is most common in cases where the mother feels threatened by another cat or animal.
Biting can help the mother to mark her kittens as her own, and it can also help to deter other animals from coming too close.
6. To Teach the Kitten How to Hunt
Yes, I forgot to mention that another potential reason for why does mom cat bite her kitten is to teach it how to hunt. This is most common in cases where the mother is a feral cat.
Biting can help the kitten learn how to kill its prey, and it can also help to build its confidence.
7. Simply Mom Cat Showing Affection to Her Kittens
Now, simple but important to remember that sometimes mom cats will bite their kittens simply because they’re showing them affection. This is most common in cases where the mother is licking her kitten’s belly.
In some cases, the mother will actually bite the kitten’s skin in order to get a better grip. However, she won’t actually break the skin or hurt the kitten. This type of biting is simply the mother’s way of showing her love.
Is it Normal for Mother Cats to Bite Their Kittens?
We often think of maternal instinct as something that always leads a mother to nurture and protect her young. But, in some cases, aggression towards kittens is perfectly normal cat behavior.
Biting and scratching are part of a mother cat’s natural repertoire of actions designed to get her babies to behave in ways that will increase their chances of survival.
For example, cats who bite their kittens may do so to move them from an exposed area into a hidden one or to stop them from venturing too far from the nest.
A mother cat may also use biting and scratching as a form of discipline when her kittens don’t seem to be listening to her. It’s important to note that, even though this type of behavior is normal, it can still be painful for kittens.
Should You Worry If Your Cat Bites Her Kittens?
Now, you might be wondering if you should worry if your cat bites her kittens. And the answer is, it depends.
If the mother is simply licking or nibbling on her kitten’s fur, then there’s no need to worry. This is perfectly normal behavior and it’s nothing to be concerned about.
While a quick nip might not hurt much (or even be noticed by the kitten), more significant bites can cause pain, bruising, and even broken bones. If you see your cat biting her kittens, try to determine the severity of the bite by looking for signs of bleeding or obvious discomfort.
If the bite is severe, contact your veterinarian. Systematic problems, such as an underlying medical condition or poor nutrition, can sometimes lead to increased aggression in nursing cats.
Your veterinarian will help you determine if your cat’s biting behavior is cause for concern and make recommendations for addressing the problem. In most cases, however, a biting mother cat is nothing to worry about.
Would Kittens Die If Their Mom Bites Them?
The quick answer to this question is no, kittens will not die if their mom bites them. While a bite from mom can certainly be painful, it is very unlikely to cause any serious harm.
However, there are some rare cases where a mother cat’s bite could kill a kitten. This is most likely to occur if the bite severs an artery or punctures a vital organ. In most cases, however, a mother cat’s bite will not be deadly.
5 Ways to Stop a Mother Cat from Biting Her Kittens
So, what can you do if you’re concerned about your cat’s biting behavior? Here, I’ll discuss what I learned from my veterinarian and various websites, as well as my own experience.
1. Keep the Mother Cat Well-Fed
One of the best ways to stop a mother cat from biting her kittens is to make sure that she is well-fed. A mother cat who is feeling hungry is more likely to bite her kittens in order to get food.
Make sure to feed the mother cat a high-quality diet that is rich in protein and nutrients. You may also want to give her some extra food, such as canned tuna or chicken, to help her get the calories she needs.
2. Provide the Mother Cat with a Safe and Comfortable Space
Another way to stop a mother cat from biting her kittens is to provide her with a safe and comfortable space. A mother cat who feels threatened is more likely to bite her kittens in order to protect them.
Make sure the mother cat has a quiet, secluded area where she can care for her kittens in peace. The area should be free from loud noises and other animals that could scare or intimidate the mother cat.
3. Give the Mother Cat Some Time to Adjust
A study published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science found that newly-adopted mother cats are more likely to bite their kittens than mother cats who have been with their litter for a longer period of time.
If you’ve recently adopted a mother cat and her kittens, give her some time to adjust to her new home. It may take a week or two for her to feel comfortable enough to stop biting her kittens.
4. Don’t Handle the Kittens Too Much
One of the reasons why mother cats bite their kittens is because they feel threatened by humans. If you handle the kittens too much, the mother cat may become agitated and start to bite.
To avoid this, try to limit your interactions with the kittens. Let the mother cat do most of the care taking, such as feeding and grooming. Only pick up the kittens if it is absolutely necessary.
5. Seek Professional Help
If you’re concerned about your cat’s biting behavior, it’s best to consult with a professional. Your veterinarian or a qualified animal behaviorist can help you determine the underlying cause of the problem and make recommendations for addressing it.
In most cases, a mother cat’s biting behavior is nothing to worry about. However, if the bites are severe or if the mother cat seems to be acting out of character, it’s best to seek professional help.
Importance of Patience and Understanding
While a mother cat’s bite can be painful, it is important to remember that this behavior is normal and usually nothing to worry about. In most cases, a mother cat will only bite her kittens when she feels threatened or when she is trying to get food.
Here I’d also like to add a statistic from 2020:
In a study of 1000 cats, it was found that 8% of them bit their kittens. While this number may seem high, it is important to remember that a mother cat’s bite is usually not severe and is often only done in moments of stress or when the mother is hungry.
So, if you’re concerned about your cat’s biting behavior, the best thing you can do is to be patient and understanding. With time, the mother cat will likely stop biting her kittens altogether.
My Final Thoughts
I already said a lot and I hope you now know possibly everything about mom biting kittens. But I want to finish this guide with some final thoughts.
First of all, if your cat is biting her kittens, don’t panic. This behavior is normal and is usually nothing to worry about. However, if you’re concerned about your cat’s biting behavior, the best thing you can do is to consult with a professional.
Finally, remember to be patient and understanding with your cat. As a cat owner I can assure you that, with time, the mother cat will likely stop biting her kittens altogether.
I hope you enjoyed this guide and I wish you all the best with your feline friend. Thank you for reading!