Why is my adult male cat aggressively licking my new male kitten?
This is a question posed by a social media user accompanying a video of a beautiful ginger tabby cat enthusiastically licking a young kitten who is also a ginger tabby cat. The questioner does not explain if the kitten is the offspring of the male cat. It looks certain that they are.
The interesting aspect of the video is that the male cat is engaging in parenting. Also, incidentally, the kitten is trying to suckle on the male cat. This is entirely instinctive. It may be because the male cat is behaving as if he is the kitten’s mother. The kitten’s reacting to that is to try to feed at his breast. My guess is that the mother is not too far away.
Dr. Bradshaw confidently states in his book Cat Sense that “Tomcats play no part in rearing offspring, and many mothers who give birth outside the home raise their kittens without help”.
This is the classic narrative. Male cats don’t get involved in parenting and it is the mother who has to do all the work.
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Note: This is a video from another website which is embedded here. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it. THERE ARE MORE ARTICLES ON MALE CATS AT THE BASE OF THE PAGE.
Clearly, that is not always the case as evidenced by this short video. Some male cats do get involved in parenting. At the opposite end of the spectrum, some male cats end up killing offspring either accidentally or deliberately but among domestic or stray cats it is unusual.
The point here is that tomcats sometimes do parent offspring or contribute to the process. And the reason why this adult ginger tabby is licking so “aggressively” in the words of their owner is because he is committed to the task.
I think the word “aggressively” is incorrect. I’ve used “enthusiastically” in the opening paragraph. It’s just a function of commitment.
Linda P. Case in her book The Cat, Its Behaviour, Nutrition & Health, states that: “Because the pair bond between the female and male cat is very weak and dissolves almost immediately after mating, the influence of the sire on kitten behaviour is primarily genetic”. This clearly states that the male of the species does not get involved in raising offspring. Conversely, free-roaming females who live in a social group may engage in communal raising of kittens.
Once again, it has to be stated that it is not universally true that male cats do not get involved in parenting. It depends upon the individuals. They can occasionally get involved in parenting. Some of them will be highly committed as evidenced in this video.
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