Female domestic cats cooperate to care for kittens

Female cat cooperation in raising kittens of other females
Female cat cooperation in raising kittens of other females. Screenshot.
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Although the news media are having fun with this video in describing a female domestic cat’s behaviour as stealing another female’s kittens, this is normal behaviour for group-living females. It might look odd to some observers but when you think about it, it is very friendly, harmonious and cooperative. In this instance a TikTok user has uploaded a short video of a tabby female cat caring for the kittens of ginger-and-white female cat. She’s perfectly happy in doing this. The truth is that when unsterilized female domestic cats live in a group – in this instance it appears to be a group of two – they form friendships depending upon blood relationships, status and age.

And when it comes to mating, pregnancy and raising kittens females may pool their efforts to raise the kittens of other females. This behaviour is supported by the fact that when living in a group female domestic cats can come into heat at the same time, thereby facilitating this form of cooperation to care for the kittens of another. It is thought that the reason is to create a defence against male cats who may kill the kittens (feline infanticide). When infanticide has been observed by researchers the victims have most often been the kittens of solitary mothers.

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