The world of nature can be one that is filled with wonder and awe. Bright and beautiful flowers bloom alongside snow-capped mountains or huge numbers of animals migrating across the plains.
It can also be filled with ruthlessness and cold-bloodedness that goes beyond human comprehension at times.
There have been reports of male lions killing the cubs of another pride to stake their claims over the females.
Unfortunately, this act is also done by male cats on kittens.
In this article, we will try to make sense of why make male cats kill kittens or hurt them. This is crucial for pe cat owners who have both the male cat and queen living in the same household.
Do Male Cats Kill Kittens?
Male cats have been known to hurt or even kill the kittens of a female cat. They do this out of territorial instinct and to make sure the newborn kittens of another male cat do not supersede his own genes.
The role of a male cat is to wander and mate with as many female cats as possible. Male cats do this to ensure that their DNA is the dominant one in the neighborhood.
Male cats aren’t exactly known for their parenting skills. Once they impregnate the female cat, they won’t stick around to raise their kittens.
It is off to find more female cats to sow their seeds of love.
Another reason why male cats might end up attacking and killing their own kittens is due to unfamiliarity.
When kittens are born, the mother cats go through drastic hormonal changes to make them more nurturing with motherly instincts.
Their sole aim over the new couple of months is to keep her kittens safe and well-fed. The mother cat will not hesitate to love her kittens elsewhere if she senses danger or needs a better nest.
The male cat on the other hand is still pretty much the same. He might mistake the kittens as prey or rodents given their small size, clumsy movements and high-pitched squeaks.
Male cats might not be as gentle towards the kittens as compared to the mother cat. Adult cats carry their kittens around by the neck and given how fragile and hard to handle they can be, a male cat that is not careful can end up injuring or killing his own kittens.
Are Male Cats Good With Kittens?
On the bright side, not all male cats as horrible cold-blooded kitten-killing machines.
Many domestic male cats act paternal and lovingly towards their own offspring. They will help groom, discipline and play with them while the mother cat gets her rest.
They might not be as nurturing as the mother cat but they won’t hurt their own kittens.
Even though these male cats can be gentle towards their own kittens, it is better to keep the newborn kittens safe by separating them from their dad at birth.
There is a right way to introduce the kittens to the male cat which we will touch on more later.
How To Protect Kittens From Male Cats?
Assuming you have a female cat that has just given birth and there are a couple of male cats at home.
It would be good to keep the queen and her litter away from the other male cats while she nurses her kitten.
Here are some methods that you can use.
Keep Mother Cat And Kittens In A Separate Room
Move the mother cat and kittens to another room with a door. This will be the kitten’s room for the next few months.
Make sure that the room is well-stocked with everything that they need like food, water, litter boxes, toys, scratching posts, cat beds, etc.
Do not allow the other cats access to this room at any time.
Remember to keep all windows in the room closed as well as cats are masters of breaking into a room.
Use A Spray Deterrent
Given how curious and inquisitive cats can be, the male cats might be hanging around the door and trying to get it.
Such behavior can put stress on the mother cat and her litter as they might be fearful of an attack.
Keep the other cats away from the door by using a spray repellant. A good and non-toxic spray that works well is one made from vinegar and water.
Mix one part vinegar and three parts water in a spray bottle and spray it around the doorway. The smell will be strong enough to keep the male cats away but not potent enough to harm the cats.
This vinegar spray is also great for getting rid of pee stains on your carpet.
Do not use essential oils as a deterrent for cats as they are not able to process certain chemicals that are found in essential oils. This can build up over time in your cat’s body and cause health problems.
Use An Electronic Deterrent Device
One downside about using the spray is that it needs to be refreshed every few hours to be effective. You can use an electronic deterrent device that can still do the job when you’re asleep or at work.
Such devices are battery operated or can be charged using a USB cable. They emit a loud sound when motion is detected thus scaring the cat off.
The best way of keeping the other male cats away from the room.
Neuter Your Cats
Unless you are a professional and registered cat breeder, you should make it a point to neuter all your cats.
Neutered male cats are less territorial animals and won’t feel the need to cause hurt to kittens from another male cat.
The territorial instinct is very strong in unneutered feral male cats who feel the strong need to defend their territory from other cats. These cats often get into fights and will kill kittens that don’t belong to them.
Neutered male cats tend to be more laid back and get along better with other cats as the need to be territorial and procreate is no longer present.
Neutering or spaying cats bring along many other health benefits as well. It also helps to control the cat population as many cats in shelters are euthanized due to a lack of funds and space.
Please let us do what we can to keep our local cat community from growing.
Do Male Cats Recognize Their Kittens?
Male cats can start to recognize their own kittens after smelling them. Unlike humans, cats don’t really recognize people or other cats visually. Cats have the ability to recognize each other by smell.
This is why you find cats rubbing and spraying their scent on cats and objects. If you separate the kittens from their mother for too long, the mother cat will treat them as strange when reunited as the scent recognition is lost.
How To Introduce Kittens To The Male Cat?
As mentioned earlier, it is best to separate the newborn kitten from the male cat. This is to prevent any unwanted form of aggression toward the kittens.
There are certain steps that you need to take to ensure that the introduction goes smoothly.
Initiate With Smell
Take a towel or blanket and rub it on all the kittens before giving it to the male cat to smell. This step is important in getting the male cat used to the presence and smell of the kittens.
See how it reacts.
If the male cat is calm and rubs his own scent on the towel, reward him with some treats.
Keep doing this for a few days.
Visual Meet Up
Now that the male cat is used to the kittens’ scent, put the kittens in a pet carrier and let them meet.
Don’t open the door of the pet carrier and let the kittens out.
The aim is to see how the male cat reacts to the physical presence of the kittens. He might hiss and show some aggressive behavior at first but his curiosity will get the better of him.
Don’t forget to reward him with treats if he is behaving well in front of the kittens.
Supervised Meet Up
This is the final step and the most nerve-racking one.
Let the male cat meet the kittens in the same room in person. Make sure you are around to immediately put a stop to any aggressive behavior from the male cat.
Observe how they interact with each other. Try feeding all of them together as food creates a positive association amongst cats.
Your male cat should be showing more curiosity than anger or fear. He won’t be as loving as the mother cat but at least he is comfortable having the kittens around.
Do not leave them alone even though they seem fine with each other. All it takes is one incident to cause serious injury to a kitten.
Will Female Cats Harm Or Kill Their Own Kittens?
As nurturing and loving as mother cats can be towards their kittens, they too have the tendency to kill their kittens under certain circumstances.
Inexperienced Mother Cat
Some queens are first-time mothers and might not have the necessary know-how or experience to raise a litter of kittens.
They can end up being too rough with the kittens and killing them in the process.
If your female cat is having her first litter, make sure to keep a close watch over her to ensure she doesn’t harm her kittens.
Not Producing Enough Milk
Newborn kittens can’t fend for themselves and have to depend on their mother cat for milk and food.
If the mother cat can’t produce enough milk as she isn’t eating enough which can happen to feral or stray cats, she might end up killing the runt of the litter to ensure the survival of the rest.
It does seem cruel but in nature, only the fittest survive.
Can’t Recognize Her Kittens
The mother cat and her kittens recognize each other by smell. The mother cat passes her scent to her kittens when she grooms them and the kittens do the same when they knead her nipple for food.
Don’t touch or remove any young kittens from their mother when they have yet to be weaned. Your smell can confuse the mother cat causing her to treat her kitten as an intruder and kill it.
Looking at how docile our domesticated cats can be, it can be hard to believe that both female and male cats can have such a sinister and dark side to them.
We are not in the position to judge if what they do is right or wrong. It is something of an instinctive nature to animals and one that they can’t control.
If your female cat ever gets pregnant, you will have to keep a close watch on them to ensure that both the mother and the other cats at home do not try and harm them.
Kittens are a bundle of joy and are very needy and dependent during the first few months. Please keep them safe and their lives depend on it.