Have you ever wondered what mother cats do with dead kittens? There are specific actions that a mother cat can do as a way of grieving.
It is painful to lose a close one, and that’s the same for cats. They also feel a pinch and react in a way.
A kitten’s death may occur before even being born or just lives for a short time.
The mother cat tends to react in a way to respond to the sad occurrence.
Just like human mothers are protective of their children, even cats are generally protective, and such a loss traumatizes them.
Their protective instinct usually is strong. This is why they tend to be defensive if you try to get close to their kittens due to fear of losing them.
This is what prompts them to have different reactions when the kitten dies.
That’s why when a mother cat is about to give birth; it finds a haven to deliver babies in.
They rarely allow humans or any other animals to come near. Many reasons can cause the death of a kitten before birth and after birth.
1. Mother Cat Eats The Dead Kitten
There are instances mother cat eats her kittens once they die. However, don’t misjudge that occurrence; it is an act of affection.
They eat their dead kittens after a while to protect the body from being eaten by any other animal.
This is another form of being protective of their kittens. They would feel so bad if they found another animal feasting on their kitten’s remains.
Also, in the case of stillbirth, the mother cat will feast on the kitten as it helps provide nutrients.
This will then be dissolved in milk that the other kittens will benefit from.
Individual cats will just eat one kitten, while some will eat the whole litter.
Also, in other cases, the mother cat eats their kitten due to congenital disabilities, feeling sorry for the kitten, external threats, and malnourishment.
Mother cats love their young ones and wouldn’t want to see them suffer.
The next time you see your cat eating its dead kitten, don’t question the action. Instead, show it, love.
2. Licks The Kitten
When the mother cat realizes that the kitten is not moving, they tend to lick the kitten furiously. This action is to check whether the kitten is alive or not.
You will also note that the mother cat will smell the cat to see if there is any movement.
When the cat is still alive, the mother cat often licks the kitten to groom their skin and fun.
It is also a form of showing affection. That’s why you may note other animals also lick their young ones, and their saliva helps heal the wounds their young ones may have.
It is a fantastic characteristic. However, it is sad when they realize their kitten is no longer alive.
Thus, as a pet parent, give the mother cat enough time while licking its loved one.
3. Hide The Dead Cat In The Closet
In some cases, when the mother cat realizes that her kitten is dead, she can decide to carry it and hide it somewhere in a box or closet.
They will then go back to the other kittens and nurse them. This is another form of grieving and letting go of the loss.
You will also note some behavioral changes with the cat. She will start searching the house, having different sleeping patterns, and so on.
In the case the mother cat used to be an attention seeker, she may start wanting to be alone.
Alternatively, if the mother cat was previously a loner, she will start searching for attention.
4. Bury The Dead Kitten
Cats are also fond of digging their litter. Thus, when a kitten dies, the mother cat may decide to bury him/her in the ground to keep it safe.
If any predator sees the kitten, it may easily want to eat it.
However, the mother cat assumes that if she buries the kitten, he/she will be more protected.
They also feel distressed with the death, thus wouldn’t want any human or animal near the kitten.
Thus, you need to give the cat enough time to grieve. If the cat notices any threat, they may decide to carry the kitten by the mouth and go bury in a safer place.
All these are acts of love for the kitten.
The mother cat will dig into the ground, bury the kitten, then cover and lay there for some hours while grieving.
This also helps in accepting fate. For a while, you may note the cat losing interest and have a lack of appetite.
Don’t fear at all. It is entirely normal.
5. Cleaning The Kitten
If the mother cat experiences a stillbirth, she will continue licking and cleaning the dead kitten even after realizing its death.
The mother will keep on cleaning the cat in disbelief. You shouldn’t try to stop the cat from cleaning her offspring as it helps in the journey of acceptance.
Also, in the case, that mother cat saw her kitten being eaten by a predator.
She will keep on going back to the same spot and call out for her kitten.
This can even happen for a month before she gives up.
6. Cat Brings The Dead Kitten To The Owner
Whenever cats find dead mice or any other animal, they tend to bring to the pet parent.
This is a form of gratitude the cat is trying to show the owner.
Also, it is a form of love and trust. For the fact that you have made the cat family, they always feel a sort of belonging.
Thus, when they bring the dead kitten to you, it is also a way of telling you that you shouldn’t eat the dead kitten.
Since you and the cat are fond of each other, it automatically gives you the responsibility to help in taking care of the kittens too.
Thus, the next time, mother cat brings her dead kitten to you, don’t hesitate! She is just trying to involve you in her grief and wants you to be there for her.
She brings it because she trusts that you will know what to do with the dead kitten.
Their maternal instincts help them be protective while the kitten is alive and dead.
Many times, after a cat gives birth, they will rarely allow you to come close to their kittens while they are taking care of them.
They also protect their young ones to prevent you from taking them away from them.
After birth, you may also note how fierce they become for the sake of protecting the cats.
7. Leaves The Dead Kitten
A wild mother cat needs to fend for its young ones. Thus, she may end up leaving them to go scout for food.
A predator can easily come and start feasting on the kittens. Thus, if one remains unhurt, the mother kitten may end up leaving the dead kittens and saving the last one which is alive even in the face of danger.
That’s how much mother cat cares about their kittens.
In her mind, she knows that she has no control over the present occurrence and may opt to run for safety.
8. Lays On The Kitten
In some cases, when the mother cat realizes that the kitten is dead, she may decide to lay on it.
She also won’t allow you to take the dead kitten away from her. Thus, what you can do is give her food and when she goes to eat, take the dead kitten and put it away.
Also, when she decides to go to the rest of the litter, take the dead kitten and dispose of it.
However, make sure the mother cat doesn’t catch you taking the kitten away. Her maternal instincts are powerful, and she may end up scratching you.
You may then decide to bury the kitten, take it to the veterinarian, or wait for it to decompose.
A mother can react in different ways when a kitten dies. This includes licking the kitten, eating it, bring to the owner, leaving the kitten, cleaning it, hiding it, or bury the dead kitten.
It is also vital to give your cat enough time to grieve and allow her to stay alone for a while.
However, when she fully recovers, have some fun with her or even give a treat that will help boost her moods.
You also need to be observant to check whether your cat is mourning a loss. Try as much as possible not to stress it and give it the necessities it needs.
Purrfect n’ Pawesome is the brainchild of Amanda, who has been into researching and writing about pets to help other pet parents in nurturing their adorable pets. Currently, she runs Purrfect n’ Pawesome along with her team of experienced and dedicated pet experts. Along with being an awesome writer and entrepreneur, Amanda is a cat mom to two innocently spoiled cats, Balanca and Scruffy.
She has been writing about pet care and nurturing and wants to share her readers’ experiences, learnings, and knowledge.
Over the years, she had the opportunity to work with various pet owners having multiple breeds, and that exposure gave her experience and the lessons of a lifetime.
Her family, her entire universe revolves around her two cats, who give her endless support and inspiration to move ahead with her objectives in life. Amanda is a live example of a balanced approach to all parenthood questions we all face in life.