Cat Cannibalism

Cat cannibalism is a form of abnormal maternal behaviour. The queen consumes her young. Often it is the first born kitten. Apparently, it occurs quite commonly, particularly in catteries.

The video is one of mine made from material kindly supplied by Kathrin Stucki of A1 Savannahs.

Mother cats routinely eat stillborn kittens together with the products of delivery. Sometimes while their mother is eating the placenta she may accidentally eat a kitten. It sounds extraordinary.

Alternatively, the mother cat might damage one of her kittens while trying to sever the umbilical cord.  This is more likely to occur if a large umbilical hernia is present.

Another occasion when feline cannibalism occurs is when it is done intentionally to destroy an inferior or malformed kitten.

And yet another instance when cat cannibalism may occur is in cases of maternal aggression which may be activated by fear, anxiety, anger or a perceived threat to the mother’s survival.

The conclusion is, that most cases of injury by the mother to her kittens are caused by psychological factors and most particularly when she feels insecure.

If feline cannibalism occurs in a breeding category, the treatment, apparently,is to provide a quiet kittening location away from all distractions where the queen feels less threatened and secure.

If the cannibalism relates to firstborn kittens each kitten should be removed as and when born, placing them in a warm kitten box. They should be left in the box until the queen has completed her births.

As a last resort, if the mother continues to demonstrate aggression towards her kittens they may need to be raised by hand or perhaps better still raised by another cat if that is possible.

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