Watching your cat become a mother can be a magical experience, especially all those cute little moments of bonding between her and her new litter of kittens.
Watching your cat bite her new litter of kittens pretty much ruins the “ooh” and “awww” effect of the whole thing.
Why Does My Cat Bite Her Kittens?
What looks like your cat biting her kittens may not be biting at all. Mother cats will pick up and carry their kittens in their mouths to move them around. Still, though, a mother cat might actually bite her kittens for other reasons, such as discipline, to wean them or establish other boundaries, or simply so she can take a break.
This is not hurtful to the kittens as the scruff on the top of their neck is loose and designed expressly for this purpose if the mother cat needs to get them out of danger or keep them safe quickly.
While this behavior might appear aggressive and mean to the kittens, it is not in most cases.
Each of these reasons is vital when the kittens are learning them, but also important for later in life.
Most of the time, these other reasons will suddenly appear when the baby kittens have grown to a certain age.
The mother cat can become abrupt with them and expect that they learn certain things for their well-being.
When a kitten reaches a particular time or age in their life, the mother cat will expect them to be self-reliant as this is how they are expected to be in the cat world once they grow up and reach a certain age.
Why does my cat bite her kitten’s neck?
The reason your cat bites her kitten’s neck is to move them around when they are small.
This is instinctual as a cat doesn’t have a set of hands to pick up their babies and move them when they are in danger or need to be moved to a safe place.
The cat will pick them up by the back of their neck, known as the scruff, and move them to where she wants them to go.
From the outside, it may seem harmful to the kittens as they will be meowing or crying out, but it is not.
Mother nature designed the back of the kitten’s neck to be a bit loose for this purpose and made this an instinct on the mother’s part to protect and help her babies.
Should I let my cat bite her kittens?
In most cases, yes, you should let your cat bite her kittens unless it is aggressive and harmful. This may require you to check on them often to make sure the kittens and mother are okay.
The relationship between the mother cat and her kittens is a short-lived but delicate one.
A mother cat will often bite her kittens to protect them and keep them safe.
After that, they may also mildly bite as a way of disciplining them.
Since the mother cat can abandon her kittens, it is a clever idea to leave them alone as much as possible during the early weeks of the kitten’s life.
Suppose a mother cat becomes too aggressive and appears to be hurting her baby kittens, or they seem to hurt in any way.
In that case, the kittens should be temporarily separated when they are not feeding, and the veterinarian should be consulted for guidance.
Is it possible to teach a mother cat not to bite her kittens?
Yes, it is possible to teach a mother cat so she doesn’t bite her kittens, but even then, there may be some instances where she bites.
It is best to begin this process long before the mother cat has her kittens, as it can take time to accomplish. The parent will need to be persistent but patient until the cat gets the idea.
The best way to accomplish this is through positive reinforcement. Everyone, including a mother cat, will respond best to positive reinforcement from their family and loved ones.
When they act appropriately, they should be rewarded with affection, praise, and of course, a few well-placed treats.
If your cat starts to bite you, this would be a time when you would remove yourself and send a verbal signal that you are hurt.
This process will be done repeatedly until the cat gets the idea.
However, even mother cats trained this way can still have episodes of biting and aggression when they become mothers.
Hormones and other physical changes in their body are sometimes linked to biting and other aggressive behaviors.
Can a cat bite her kittens if she is jealous?
Yes, a cat can bite her kittens if she is jealous of them. This can happen in families where the kittens are given more attention, and the mother gets less.
These situations can happen without we humans even realizing it.
We might focus our energy on how adorable the kittens are and accidentally not give enough attention to the mother cat.
It is a clever idea to give the mother attention first and then focus on the kittens every time you interact with the mother cat and kittens.
If the kittens get a lot of attention, it is good to come back to the mother cat and make sure she doesn’t feel neglected.
Most mother cats won’t feel this way, but there are so many things going on with their bodies that it can be impossible to know.
Even the most docile and friendly cat can become jealous or extra needy when they are a tired mother cat taking care of her baby kittens all the time.
Mother cats do bite from time to time; most often, they are trying to move the kittens around or keep them out of harm’s way.
In other cases, it may simply be a form of discipline on the mother’s part, and she is teaching them something.
Whatever the case, only intervene when necessary, such as being excessively aggressive towards them.
In these cases, it can be helpful to consult her veterinarian to make sure everything is okay before you separate them, so the mother cat doesn’t abandon her litter for no reason.