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Do Male Cats Kill Kittens?

post #1 of 54
Thread Starter 
Do Male cats kill kittens?

We had three little kittens in our backyard .We were feeding them and their mother for a week. They were so tiny and beautiful and playful. Actually, other strays were even afraid to come near he mother. But y'day night, we saw a huge cat, it was twice the size of the mother and unlike any stray we had seen. The mother cat was out on a hunt and the three kittens were frighttened and hiding. (They wre too little even to mew). We chased the big one away. But it looked exactly like one of the litter. ( a striped grey that we called Tiger). So we thought may be it was the father of the litter, and so it would not harm them. But this morning, the mother came back and sat staring stiffly at something behind a bush. When my brother went and saw, it was little Tiger, (Oh God!) bitten in half with its lower part missing. We searched for the others, but could not find them. But then later we saw the other two in our neighbor's house. But Tiger was our special pet, the most beautiful of the litter, a shy kitty, that would peek around a bush or a wall and make sure none of us were near before it came to lap up the milk we gave them. Just yesterday, all of them, including Tiger started coming near us and played with us when we shook little twigs at them. It was so delightful to watch.
We have a dog, but she is a nice little thing, besides which she is too old and almost totally blind. And she always stays indoors, especially at night. And chances of another dog coming in are not high because we lock the gates at night(not a huge gate but still, I have not seen any dogs come in when the gates were closed). But this big cat slid in easily.
post #2 of 54
Yes Toms will kill kittens because the grief in the momcats throw the females back into heat quickly and the toms can mate again. Normally the Tom will put the kitten in their mouth and shake them violently and not leave a mark. But I have known some Toms that will kill more violently than that.

I am moving this to the feral forum for you.
post #3 of 54
I learn something everyday. I did not know a tom would do that. My male persians are usually curiuos but have never done anything like that,
So sorry for the little babies!
Denise
post #4 of 54
Denise I am talking about ferals and not domesticated breeds. I should have clarified that.
post #5 of 54
that is so sad i'm sorry for you loss.
post #6 of 54
Thread Starter 
Thanx for the reply.Learned since that there is a breed of wild cat in our area that does this. So sad for the little kittens. Loved themBy ferrals do you mean domestic cats gone wild? do they do that too?
post #7 of 54
Only if they are not neutered and have reverted back to their complete wild state.
post #8 of 54
When I was a child, my mother's black cat had a litter to the neighbor's big black Tom. He got in our basement and killed two of the kittens. We saw him being chased by the mother cat. I remember my father getting very angry and going to the Tom's home to do a bit of yelling. I stayed with the kittens in case the Tom came back, and remember their terror when they first saw their mother returning. I believe that incident was an exception.

In my own experience, my Siamese male helped take care of the kittens. In fact he even carried them to their bed the way the mother did. That was when they were underfoot, of course. They were isolated when young.
post #9 of 54
Again I will reiterate- it is FERAL TOMS that kill kittens, not domesticated breeds.
post #10 of 54
The poor little angel. I can't believe a cat would do something so horrific! I almost cried when I read your post.

God Bless you Little Tiger
post #11 of 54
Perhaps the Tom that killed our kittens was a feral that the neighbor was feeding, but I never spoke to their son again. It was a terrible shock for a little girl, and not an experience she would forget.
According to Sarah Hartwell's "Cats THat Kill Kittens," copyright 1996:

Conclusion

Fortunately the domestic cat is adaptable enough that a 'happy families' situation usually prevails. Kitten killing is more common in inexperienced or highly stressed mothers and, because the surviving kittens of a kitten killer may grow up into poor mothers themselves, there may be some genetic problems (leading to hormonal or behavioural problems) influencing kitten killing behaviour in queens. In males, the kitten-killing behaviour is most often due to their highly competitive natures, something which has been modified by selective breeding but which has not been entirely eliminated as it is part and parcel of the male instinct.

MESSYBEAST.COM CAT RESOURCE ARCHIVE
Sarah Hartwell is a well known expert from the U.K., whose advice is valued by cat lovers in Europe and the U. S. She is also an expert on feral cat behavior.
post #12 of 54
Now that I have some time, let me try to further explain. In the wild the ferals come together to form colonies (thus expeling the notion that cats are anti-social) A Tom will be the matriarch of the clan and if a female that he did not mate with, gives birth, he will go in and kill all of her kittens. I will spare you how he does this, but it usually does not leave a mark on the kittens. The mom in her anguish is thrown back into a heat cycle, he mates with her, thus strengthening HIS line and assuring that this colony is under his control and that they will survive.

He also will drive off any unneutered male that arrives, and will make sure he only has so many females with him. Neutered males, he doesn't even concern himself with, unless they try to overthrow him.

Domesticated cats do not do this type of behavior, and in many cases will also help the mom to care for the babies and interact with them as they grow, play fighting with them.
post #13 of 54
Quote:
Originally posted by hissy
[b]A Tom will be the matriarch of the clan /B]
surely you mean patriarch?

Anyway, although what hissy says was true (as always), I'd like to say that you will never be able to know for sure who killed the poor kitten. It might have been a dog (maybe not yours), it might have been a feral cat or maybe even a wild animal. By the way, pet cats have been knows to kill kittens as well, even females and even the mothers themselves. It's true that a roaming feral (a cat that had not had proper socialization with people) is a more likely candidate, but it can happen with pet cats as well.

I can only say I'm sorry that those kittens died like that. It was very kind of you and your family to feed that family, I hope you will continue caring for the poor mom. What you need to do now ASAP is get the mom spayed. Like hissy explained, when mother cats lose their kittens they are likely to go into heat very quickly. Please don't wait any longer and have her spayed this week.
post #14 of 54
Thread Starter 
These were not our cats. We have never had cats before. These were just strays that we started to feed. But yes, a hard lesson was learnt. Wish we could have learnt it some other way. If next time we see a litter, we will try to put them somewhere safe. Problem is we have a dog. And she is used to being our only pet. So, whenever we bring in some other animal, even briefly, she either barks her head off and tries to chase them away, or goes off in a huff and sits in a corner and looks at us accusingly as if we had betrayed her or something. Usually, when we go up to the terrace in the evening as we usually do in these hot months, she doesn’t take any notice of us. She just puts her head thru the bars and watches the street. But ever since this poor cat and her kittens came in and we started petting them and watching them, she does not look out any more. She keeps looking at us with that expression on her face. She is ten now and we don't want to hurt her. But this mother cat has become so close to us. She still has one kitten remaining. We have not seen the other one. She keeps moving this kitten from place to place, but comes back to our house to feed. And more than the food, she wants us to touch and pet her. She keeps mewing until we touch her and pet her. May be she will come back with another litter. If that happens, what do we do? We don't have any enclosed space where we can isolate her from our dog and keep her away from the kitchen. So, if anyone has a dog and has experienced anything like this, please help. I can't bear to see another kitten killed.

By the way, I have since learned that there is a breed of wild cat in our region that does this. So this was not the work of a domestic cat. Anyway, the cat we saw did not look like any ordinary stray.

I have seen the cat that camein that day, it is not a wild cat. Actually, it has come in with the mother cat now, no sign of the kitten.. This is a domestic breed alright, but has looked after itself well. It is bigger and heftier than any stary I have seen. And it is not competeing with the mother cat for food when we feed her. He just lies there as if watching over her and seeing that no one comes near her. Actually, I am a little uneasy for our dog, she is almost completely blind and not at all aggressive. We don’t usually let her out now without watching over her, but if she gets out, I don’t know. If she goes near the mother cat, will that big devil hurt her? This may seem like a silly question, but have never had any experience with cats before. I know they are afraid of dogs, but our dog, even the mother cat senses that she is harmless and she is not afraid of her.
post #15 of 54
Thread Starter 
I just read your post about capturing and spaying the mother cat. Did not realize that she would come into heat so quickly. But she keeps moving.
When I said moving from one place to the other, I did not man in our house. She moves from one house to the otherwith the kitten. At least that is what we think. She brought that lone kitten to our house one day.We fed them and were thinking how to shelter the little one. It would not even let us come near it. We thought we would let it calm down a little and capture it before it became dark. But when we looked out sometime later, she was gone and so was the kitten. One day we saw her going into the house on our left after she had fed. Next day, we saw her in a house on our back street. Next day, she went to the house on our right. So we thought she was looking after the kitten. But now, as I told you, she is alone and we have not seen the kitten. That big car has come with her now and is not letting her out of his sight. If we chase him away, he just comes in sometime later. God help us, I don’t know what to do. I CAN’T BEAR to see another kitten killed. I just hope someone suggests something helpful incase she comes in with another litter. Keeping in mind our dog. Please help someone.
Another strange thing we noticed. There is anither stray cat here that we usually see from time to time. It is not yet a full grown cat, not quite the size of the mom cat. When she had her kittens, she would not even let this cat come near her. But after she lost her kittens and only had Xerox(the lone survivor, looked exactly like its mother) to look after, she let this cat share her meals and even when she came in without that kitten, this cat would come after she had fed and eat the leftovers. And she seemed to be deliberately leaving something for it. It looked like they were looking after Xerox together. Or may be it is just my imagination running wild. But then, why did she suddenly let this one share her meals?
post #16 of 54
Hi. I've been away for awhile and just read your question....
Yes, tomcats will kill kittens. (I guess you know that by now, huh?) That is how I came to have Homer & Gus. They were amoung a liter of 9 and the rest were killed by tomcats. They were all male kittens too. If a male cat feels like his territory is threatened, he will kill other male kittens. Sad, but it happens.
post #17 of 54
Quote:
Originally posted by Sarah Brown
Hi. I've been away for awhile and just read your question....
Yes, tomcats will kill kittens. (I guess you know that by now, huh?) That is how I came to have Homer & Gus. They were amoung a liter of 9 and the rest were killed by tomcats. They were all male kittens too. If a male cat feels like his territory is threatened, he will kill other male kittens. Sad, but it happens.
wow a liter of nine! that is a HUGE litter. poor kitties
post #18 of 54

This just happened to me today. My family and I are in the process of taming a playful female stray. She brought over her one kitten we estimated being about 3 weeks old. It was so cute and the mommy cat was okay with us holding her kitten. We would of brought them in, but the mommy cat isn't at that point yet. Sometimes you can pick her up. Anyways, this morning we awoke to a bloody mess in the box and on our carport. The kitten was missing and the mommy cat was freaking out. We found tufts of fur that were not colors of the kitten or mom cat. We assume that a orange Tom cat (the same color as some of the tufts of fur) that has been roaming around the area lately,  probably ate the kitten. :(  

post #19 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by galadrielite View Post

This just happened to me today. My family and I are in the process of taming a playful female stray. She brought over her one kitten we estimated being about 3 weeks old. It was so cute and the mommy cat was okay with us holding her kitten. We would of brought them in, but the mommy cat isn't at that point yet. Sometimes you can pick her up. Anyways, this morning we awoke to a bloody mess in the box and on our carport. The kitten was missing and the mommy cat was freaking out. We found tufts of fur that were not colors of the kitten or mom cat. We assume that a orange Tom cat (the same color as some of the tufts of fur) that has been roaming around the area lately,  probably ate the kitten. frown.gif  

Welcome to TCS... I am so sorry about this little kitten shame.gif It can be a definite problem with kittens and the tomcats. So unfortunate. sniffle.gif Please see about getting the mom cat spayed as soon as she is done with weaning the kittens, IF there are anymore out there. vibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gif

Just want to mention that this thread is very old, from 2003. Please feel free to start another thread on this forum or another forum here on our site. We welcome you!!!!!!!!!! hugs.gif
post #20 of 54

I learned firsthand today that male cats do kill kittens.  A mother cat who recently had kittens  adopted a kitten that was abandoned.  A little while ago I went outside and saw the mother cat laying on the porch with a male cat.  I knew where the kitten was, so I went to check on it.  I was horrified to find that the lower half of it's body was missing!  The worst part of it was the kitten was alive when I got home a couple of hours before. 

 

I have some feral male cats, so after reading this, I now know what happened to the poor little kitten.  It was also a male.

 

I don't know how I'm going to get that image out of my mind.   

post #21 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by mas1953 View Post

I learned firsthand today that male cats do kill kittens.  A mother cat who recently had kittens  adopted a kitten that was abandoned.  A little while ago I went outside and saw the mother cat laying on the porch with a male cat.  I knew where the kitten was, so I went to check on it.  I was horrified to find that the lower half of it's body was missing!  The worst part of it was the kitten was alive when I got home a couple of hours before. 

I have some feral male cats, so after reading this, I now know what happened to the poor little kitten.  It was also a male.

I don't know how I'm going to get that image out of my mind.   

OH dear ohno.gif I know that those awful images seem to stick in our minds for a very long time, I am sorry about that kitten..... I hope you are able to get all of those cats sterilized as that will save any more kittens from this horrible fate. sniffle.gif Bless you for caring. Please feel free to start your own thread here in the forum for more advice and suggestions about stray cats. hugs.gifwavey.gif
post #22 of 54

I know this is an old thread, but I have just recently encountered this problem with a bunch of strays I feed at my shop every night.   I have been going there every night for the past 3 years and feeding anywhere from 6 to 10 cats that show up.   For the longest time they all got along well and would eat together with no problems, but a while back a maie showed up and immediately things changed.  He runs other cats off, but gets along well with people.

 

He and a small female had a liter of two kittens and as they got old enough the mom would bring them around to eat too.  Suddenly the one disappeared and only the little white one showed up.  A few nights ago I noticed the little white kitten coming all by herself and her mom seemed to abandon her.  Then last night the little white one came and seemed really scared, even of her own dad and mom.  Then I saw the dad chase after the kitten, who ran for her life.

 

I am really upset, and am going to try to save the little one by trapping her, if she is still ok.    I may trap the male and have him neutered also.  All of the problems seemed to start when he started coming around, and it is time to stop it now.

 

Don

post #23 of 54
I hope you manage to get her in time. Yes, toms will kill kittens, and not just male ones who may be potential threats.Killing a litter will bring a mom back into heat more quickly so the male can mate with her, therefore female kittens are also at risk.
post #24 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Don1945 View Post

I know this is an old thread, but I have just recently encountered this problem with a bunch of strays I feed at my shop every night.   I have been going there every night for the past 3 years and feeding anywhere from 6 to 10 cats that show up.   For the longest time they all got along well and would eat together with no problems, but a while back a maie showed up and immediately things changed.  He runs other cats off, but gets along well with people.

He and a small female had a liter of two kittens and as they got old enough the mom would bring them around to eat too.  Suddenly the one disappeared and only the little white one showed up.  A few nights ago I noticed the little white kitten coming all by herself and her mom seemed to abandon her.  Then last night the little white one came and seemed really scared, even of her own dad and mom.  Then I saw the dad chase after the kitten, who ran for her life.

I am really upset, and am going to try to save the little one by trapping her, if she is still ok.    I may trap the male and have him neutered also.  All of the problems seemed to start when he started coming around, and it is time to stop it now.

Don

Sending loads and loads of vibes for the little white kitten. OH I hope you can save her. vibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gifvibes.gif
post #25 of 54

Well, since I last posted that information I have arranged to borrow an animal trap and am going to try to catch the Dad and have him neutered.  The local shelter does strays free.  I am also going to try to catch the Mom and have her fixed too so the cycle of them having kittens only to have them die will stop, at least for that family.

 

There was also some good news.  Last night when I went to my shop to feed them, not only did the Dad and Mom show up, but the white kitten was right there with them........they were one big happy family, so I am not sure what was going on a few days ago ! smile.gif    They all love chicken hot dogs for a treat and all three of them sat right there and waited for the next bite.  The little white one also played with a mouse on a fishing pole I had, and got within a foot of me while I sat there.  She can be domesticated I am sure, and I am going to try to trap her and get her adopted.  She is a really pretty little cat and I don't think she will be very big when fully grown.......her Mom is tiny.

 

So thanks for the good wishes, and I will let everyone know how I make out.

 

Don

post #26 of 54

Today I borrowed a trap and the first cat in was the little white one.  She is in my shop office right now and tomorrow I am going to get on the phone to try to get her taken in by some organization.   She is really very tame for being a stray kitten, my Son was able to pet her through the wire cage and she wasn't freaked out much at all.  If I am only able to save one of them from the terrible life they live outdoors, I want it to be this little one.

 

After that is taken care of I am going to try to trap her Dad, then her Mom and get them fixed.  They have been in the wild too long to tame them, but at least they won't be bringing any more little ones into the world to die.

 

Don

post #27 of 54

Dear Friends! Human beings are slowly understanding animals. The male lions after defeating the existing male master, take over the harem, kill all the young ones - it is the nature's way of deciding the stronger genes should survive. The females do not mate immediately with the new male lest the new master may be shortly defeated by another male and all their offspring be killed. They wait till the new male established its supremacy and strength.

Another interesting act of the drama of life that is looked down upon in human society: the females in a harem mate with subordinate males behind the back of the master. This is to ensure genetic diversity. If the master has genetic defects, all the litter will be exposed to it. Nature protects itself through different ways. We must continue to learn by studying/observing nature.

Let us not take sides, lest we miss the important lessons.

post #28 of 54

Help ....I found a kitten barely 2 weeks old because her eyes had barely opened and i found it next to an under construction building but her mother was nowhere to be seen and some of the workers told me her mother no longer comes there and the kittens siblings are dying ..

i took it home and ever since i was looking for her mother ..i found a different pregnant cat living in my gym building she had one kitten barely 5 weeks old ..i tried to see if she would adopt it ...She did she went nuts after her when i bought the kitten in a box ..she was smelling and hissing at me to let her out ..she picked it up gently and cleaned her and fed her soon enough ..I waited a few hours to confirm if the other kitten would be a threat to the 2 week old kitten . it seemed harmless ..I have been checking up on them and the little kitten is doing well in her new home ..but today i could not find her .turned the whole place upside down but no trace of her.......the other kitten is alive and well but the 2 week old just vanished ....few hours later i returned to the area with 'LOST KITTEN' posters but i saw a huge male cat with the mother .....he scared the kitten away into hiding, the mother  kept him from attacking the kitten .could he be the cause for the other kitten to disappear >??

any clues if he did attack her what would happen to the body ???Would it be nearby or would he have taken it with him ???

I have been looking all over i just wish i could find out what happened to the kitten .....This happened on a mezzaine floor of the building

its sorta empty .Just so to give u guys an idea if the male did attack would he drag the body with him to the stairs and then out of the building.Honestly its day 2 and i am really upset over not being able to find out what happened 

post #29 of 54

Pyroclasm. The male could attack, and in this case, he would either leave the rests lieing, or even eat up them.

 

But the other 5w kittens was alive and well yes?  So my guess is, the little kitten got sick and died... So the adoptive mom did eat up it, OR carried away long from her nest.

May be the reason the first mom did abandoned her litter, she understood there was something wrong with them.

 

Is the male friendly with the female?  If so, he wouldnt prob not hurt the kittens.  They can live in family groups if so is, you know.  And toms who are friends with the mom, do take care and help with  her kittens, even if not biological fathers.

Mom wouldnt want to be friendly either if he did hurt her kittens.  She would succumb to a rape, but not be friendly.

 

The male coming is a coincidence in this variation, I think. A healthy mom can usually defend and even scare away any male, if she thinks they are a threat to their kittens.

 

Your help was in wain here, but nonetheless, your help was most welcome and a praiseworthy doing.

Better luck next time!

Next step, engage in some nice TNR-rescue group...  :)

 

Good luck!

 

Welcome to our Forums!

post #30 of 54

I have a colony of feral cats in my yard that includes several males and females.  I have had most of them fixed to help cut down on the overpopulation, but I have been unable to catch all of the cats thus far.  My experience is very different from what I have read on here.  The male cats in this colony not only do NOT harm kittens that are born of the females, but they actually help to care for them.  I have watched them "babysit" to give Mom a break.  I have seen them guide the kittens back to the group when they begin to wander off.  I realize that this is highly unusual, but I am assuming that these males are simply behaving as they have seen those males before them behave.  I feel pretty fortunate to have such a loving colony of feral cats that I care for.  I try to catch the kittens after they are weaned so as to socialize them and find them homes.  I have been pretty successful at it.  I have adopted more than my share of these babies myself.  I am that crazy cat lady who lives down the street.  AND PROUD OF IT!

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