How Do Mother Cats Teach Their Kittens? – 7 Important Skills

Due to the mother-Kitten bond and intimate relationship, kittens learn things faster from their respective mothers than others.

The primary things kittens learn from their mothers at a young age are essential before separation.

An example of such things is how to provide food for themselves.

how do mother cats teach their kittens

Mother cats teach their kittens other things, like how to care for and protect themselves.

Due to this reason, the average age for separating kittens from their mother is about 12 weeks old.

We understand the significance of allowing kitty cats to stay more extended periods with their mother, but it’s essential to separate them after 12 weeks.

To know how mother cats teach their offspring, let’s see 7 ways the mothers teach them essential abilities.

1. Security And Protection

Especially after separation, mother cats are aware that they may not always be there to defend and protect their kittens. So teaching them how to be safe is vital.

Kittens often feel free and comfortable approaching everyone and anything without being wary of any potential danger.

While socializing may seem reasonable, the mother cat usually teaches them to be cautious around strangers.

Mother cats teach their offspring to behave around strange dogs or other cats.

They also train them to protect themselves if they need to run in times of threat.

2. Hunting

Learning how to hunt for food is one of the essential traits for all cats. Luckily, they have this hunting instinct from birth.

Nevertheless, kittens still need guidance on hunting, which is what the mother cat teaches them. The kittens learn hunting basics, such as where to find their prey and how to approach them.

Their mother teaches them the tactics of catching prey without making noise to scare them away.

This hunting lesson is taught to all kittens by first bringing a dead mouse.

The mother cat then eats it to show it is good to eat a mouse for food. Next, she allows them to play around with a dead mouse and eat with her.

Afterwards, she brings a live mouse and teaches them how to kill it with her assistance.

After a few lessons, she takes them for mice hunting, where she helps the kittens hunt until they can hunt for themselves.

3. Food Identification

Young cats often eat whatever they see when hungry. Sometimes, they even eat from their litter after urinating or defecating, which harms their health.

Knowing what to eat is another vital thing mother cats teach their kitty cats.

Besides hunting for their food, kittens learn what to eat and what they should avoid from their mother.

The mother cat teaches them how to identify food that is appropriate for them to eat.

She communicates this by hissing or gnarling at her young kittens when approaching a particular type of food that is harmful.

4. How To Excrete

Excreting at any place is a common habit of kittens. Therefore, the mother teaches them how to handle their excretions and use a litter tray properly as they grow.

More so, the mother cat teaches her young ones the right way to bury their waste.

This tactic helps keep wild, dominant cats and predators away from the kittens.

5. Communication & Interaction

Cats are not the most friendly animals and struggle to dominate over territories.

Before being separated from their mother, kittens learn how to communicate and live with other cats.

Mother cats ensure that they teach their offspring how to interact and mingle with other young cats.

They also learn how to share space and stay away from trouble.

Communication and interaction help kittens understand how to adapt and interact with other cats in their environment.

Apart from that, mother cats teach their kitten how to hiss properly and gnarl so that the young cats can adapt and adjust to the new environment after separation from their mother.

6. Socialization

Kitty cats are born with a sharp set of teeth. Without proper training, they can hurt themselves or other cats around them.

Mother cats instruct kittens on how to moderate their behaviour and restrict themselves when playing.

This training is crucial as they need to socialize and interact with other young cats.

Mother cats show their kittens how to use their claws and sharp teeth. It is essential, mainly when wrestling or playing, to prevent them from hurting themselves.

Sensitive paws are essential when there is a need to protect themselves. Hence, the mother instructs them on how to use their claws defensively.

7. Self-Cleaning

Queen cats teach their young ones how to self-clean.

Initially, kittens watch and try to emulate their mother as she does her self-grooming.

First, the mother cat teaches them how to lick their paws, furs, and ears, and then the kittens emulate the same process.

Over time, kittens become great at self-grooming, especially after eating.

Do Mother Cats Discipline Their Kittens?

Absolutely yes! Mother cats discipline their kittens in 3 different ways which are:

1. Meowing & Hissing

Kittens misbehave a lot, especially by scratching each other with their sharp claws.

To discipline them, mother cats instantly take over and correct their kittens with deep growls, assertive meows, or hissing.

Meowing and hissing discipline traits are considered to be inborn, and kittens instinctually understand them from birth.

This discipline method used by mother cats is the most common one because kittens can easily differentiate different types of hisses and correct themselves.

2. Walking Away

One of the most powerful training tools for young kittens is attention, especially from their mothers.

Mother cats walk away at times when kittens get too demanding or when they misbehave to send them a clear signal that their behaviour doesn’t get them what they want. 

This tactic is used by mother cats when kittens start their weaning process.

The mother cat, at some point, walks away from her kittens when they try to nurse.

The kittens try to go back and try a few times before the message sinks in because the mother walks away each time as a way of not allowing the continuation of the nursing behaviour.

Eventually, the kittens realize their time to get nursed is over and choose to eat cat food instead.

3. A tap on The Head

Mother cats also administer short physical corrections to their kittens.

 When kittens misbehave, mother cats lightly bite or tap the kittens on the head to stop the nasty behaviour.

Interestingly, mother cats always know how much physical pressure to apply on the head taps to convey a message without hurting the kittens.


Young cats tend to understand better when taught by their mother than other adult cats.

Therefore, Kittens should be allowed to stay longer with their mothers to learn certain basic behaviours.

There are several things that a mother cat teaches her offspring before they are taken away from her, like hissing and hunting.

These abilities are required for the survival of the young cats without their mother.

The teachings of a mother cat go a long way in helping kitty cats mature and grow safely.