When a mother cat attacks and kills her offspring without trying. Is neonatal isoerythrolysis nature’s mistake?

Neonatal isoerythrolysis (NI) is a strange disease because it goes against everything we are to believe about a mother caring for her offspring. Did nature screw up completely or is something happening which has created this dire state of affairs? I don’t think we know why it happens. I can’t find the reason for the existence of this peculiar, unnatural disease.

Photo Courtesy Dr. Christina McRae (modified).
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And in cats, as in other animals such as horses, it happens when a mother cat has type B blood which contains antibodies that attack the red blood cells of her offspring because her kitten has type A blood. The mother’s antibodies are in her colostrum, the milk she produces during the first 24-72 hours after birth. It is highly ironic and frankly a failure of nature that colostrum usually contains antibodies which are passed to the newborn kitten from her mother to help protect the kitten from disease. NI does the opposite.

Antibodies are part of a cat’s system of defensive against disease. They are designed to attach themselves to a foreign substance that invade the body with the objective of destroying it.

So when this disease is in operation the mother’s defensive system considers the red blood cells of her newborn kitten to be alien foreign substances that need to be attacked and killed.

In doing this kittens can be killed. It is one of the reasons behind fading kitten syndrome. You can tell if a kitten is suffering from NI by the abnormal colour of their urine (pigmenturia). Even if the kitten is removed from their mother as soon as the symptoms appear there is a good chance she’ll die.

At risk kittens should be prevented from nursing for the first three days. Preventing type A fathers mating with type B mothers is the best course or action.

If nature is meant to foster and promote the existence of a species of animal why is it achieving the opposite in NI? Is it something that humans have done but don’t realise they have done it? Is NI a product of the way humans have polluted the environment? Why should antibodies in type B blood see red blood cells in type A blood as dangerous invading substances when it is natural for male cats with type A blood to mate with females with type B blood? About 95% of type B mothers (queens) have strong antibodies against type A blood.

Source: Cat-world.com.au, veterinarypartner.com and Wikipedia.com

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