Do mother cats eat their kittens’ poop?

Mother cats might eat their kittens’ poop for the first three weeks of their kittens’ lives during anogenital stimulation which is a form of tactile stimulation by the mother to encourage her kittens to urinate and defecate. When she does this she might eat their poop. In other words she might cleanup. It’s important, I think, to realise that if a mother does eat her kittens’ poop is as a side effect of anogenital stimulation. For completeness, the word “anogenital” means “relating to the anus and genitals”.

There is nothing more to say on that specific topic in answering the question in the title. I will, though, add a few more words. Common sense dictates that if kitten poop is present in the nest it should be removed by their human caretaker if there is one.

Single newborn kitten cuddling up to mother

Single newborn kitten cuddling up to mother. Photo in public domain.

Some links selected at random to more kitten info

Early development of the kitten
Here is a bit more about early kitten development including to 10 weeks of age. Alley Cat Allies start their ...
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Verdell has a powder coat. Image: Social media. I have changed the background.
Fever coat can affect cats, rabbits and dogs as I understand it. It is also called "stress coat". It should ...
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Sphynx mum and kittens
In this article on kitten development, I refer to the development of the domestic cat after birth. About 70% of ...
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Pregnant cat
How long are cats pregnant? The answer depends on the type of cat. Here is a graph showing the domestic ...
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Video of Martin Stucki taking on the role of a mother cat in carrying out anogenital stimulation of Savannah cats and feeding them

Some more on early kitten developement

At birth, kittens’ ear canals are blocked by ridges of skin. These ridges gradually open over the first two weeks of life. When they are as young as five days old they startle at loud noises. At two weeks of age they are able to locate sounds in their environment. By four weeks of age their sound detection and reaction is adult-like. Their deciduous teeth first erupt at two weeks of age and continue until week five. This is about the time when their mother, if she is free-living, brings home killed prey as solid food for her kittens. Transitioning from deciduous to adult teeth begins at 3.5 months after birth.

Kittens’ neonatal behaviour slowly disappears and is replaced by adolescent and adult behaviour patterns after three weeks of age. Kittens become more mobile between 9 and 14 days which ties in with the development of their auditory system, and the opening of their eyes. They can run at about four weeks of age and their play patterns become more complex during weeks 7-8. At seven weeks old they have a full adult repertoire of locomotion.

My grateful thanks to Linda P Case’s book: The Cat, Its Behavior, Nutrition & Health (pages 118-119). I also referenced the internet at various websites to see what less experienced people said aabout this topic.

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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