Do male cats try to kill unborn kittens?

KittyJ

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I have heard stories of male cats jumping on pregnant female cats' stomachs, attempting to kill her unborn kittens. Do male cats know if a litter of unborn kittens belong to another male? I know that males will kill the kittens of another male to ensure that he'd father the female's next litter. Do males know if a litter of kittens are his or not by their smell? I am just wondering this because I don't think that a male would know before the kittens are even born.
 

susanm9006

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I think their prey instinct is probably number one reason they kill kittens but maybe also a bit of jealousy of the females’s attention to them. It really does not make much difference if the kittens are his or not, male cats cannot be trusted near kittens, especially when they are very young.

When the female is still pregnant jumping on them is likely caused by the male still having the urge to mate with Her.
 

Mamanyt1953

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I have heard that all of my life, but I've also seen toms who are very gentle with kittens. Lions are infamous for this. They take over a new pride, and kill all of the young cubs in order to clear the way for their own offspring, but this is not an absolute law when dealing with felis catus (domestic cat).
 

Willowy

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I've never heard of males jumping on the females while pregnant in order to cause her to miscarry. I don't think cats are that aware of how pregnancy and miscarriages work to do that. Plus the body does a fine job of protecting fetuses. If he jumps on her while she's pregnant, I'm sure it's just playfulness or fighting or an attempt to mate.

Toms do sometimes kill kittens, but I don't believe it's because they want to get rid of their rival's kittens the way lions do. I think it's just either prey instinct or misplaced playfulness.
 

danteshuman

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I have heard stories of breeders who mom & dad coraise the kittens.

Also I had a neutered male cat who adopted two 13 day old kittens. The runt was failing to thrive. So on the third day I gently held him and let her nurse off him. After that first nursing he mommied them and let Janey nurse whenever she wanted. She started drinking out of the bottle again and they both survived! 😀 There are stories of male cats producing milk and minting orphaned kittens that people are fostering.

My cat Dantes took a special shine to one kitten but I didn’t really let him near them unsupervised until they were 2 months old. We got them at a month old. At 6 weeks he agreed to share my lap with them. By 2.5 months he had picked a favorite & was busy being an Uncle go all 3. The other two neutered males were grumpy seniors that (still) avoided the ‘minions.’
 

Maurey

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My former/retired stud, Chips, was utterly terrified of his own kittens when they were small (he’d run away and hide from them the one or two times the breeder attempted to introduce them in a safe, very supervised way), but was a good parents to older kittens, for whatever reason.
Different toms definitely have their own reactions, though. I know a breeder of poly Maine Coons who’s stud just loves kittens. He got into nesting boxes to babysit and groom kittens, even back before he was interested in breeding, himself (the breeder used an external stud for their first litter or two, as her boy was just not ready/interested in her queen yet).
 

mani

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To answer your original question, no, male cats do not try to kill unborn kittens. As has been mentioned, they are either trying to mate (toms can be highly aggressive in their mating), or, less likely but still feasible, it's a case of a cat smelling 'different', like when you bring a cat back from the vet and it creates friction with other household cats.
I'm bemused about the premise. I certainly haven't read that anywhere.

That phenomena is called "relactation," and can happen in all mammals, both male and female, including humans. I find it fascinating.
We're going off-topic, but yes, this is fascinating. I have a friend who had it occur with cats she was fostering.
 
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KittyJ

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I have heard that all of my life, but I've also seen toms who are very gentle with kittens. Lions are infamous for this. They take over a new pride, and kill all of the young cubs in order to clear the way for their own offspring, but this is not an absolute law when dealing with felis catus (domestic cat).
Yes, I believe it is quite common for fathers to be fatherly figures to his kittens, although I have heard of an intact male that was a fatherly figure to a litter of kittens who weren't even his! My grandfather said that it was because the owners were fostering the pregnant cat and since she came to them pregnant, the male thought that they were his. Would he have known by their smell?
Growing up with indoor/outdoor cats I unfortunately saw it a couple times with Kittens less than a couple weeks old. Also one case of the mom cat killing her kittens.
That is so sad. I have heard that mothers will sometimes kill her kittens before a predator gets them so then she wouldn't have "failed" to keep her kittens away from predators. I honestly don't believe that as cats are wonderful parents.
I've never heard of males jumping on the females while pregnant in order to cause her to miscarry. I don't think cats are that aware of how pregnancy and miscarriages work to do that. Plus the body does a fine job of protecting fetuses. If he jumps on her while she's pregnant, I'm sure it's just playfulness or fighting or an attempt to mate.

Toms do sometimes kill kittens, but I don't believe it's because they want to get rid of their rival's kittens the way lions do. I think it's just either prey instinct or misplaced playfulness.
Hmm. I always thought that's why they did it but then I was wondering, "well, what if they were his?" That definitely makes more sense.

I've heard that it's so she can come into heat quicker so he can father her next litter. I do understand how it could be misplaced playfulness like dogs.
I have heard stories of breeders who mom & dad coraise the kittens.

Also I had a neutered male cat who adopted two 13 day old kittens. The runt was failing to thrive. So on the third day I gently held him and let her nurse off him. After that first nursing he mommied them and let Janey nurse whenever she wanted. She started drinking out of the bottle again and they both survived! 😀 There are stories of male cats producing milk and minting orphaned kittens that people are fostering.

My cat Dantes took a special shine to one kitten but I didn’t really let him near them unsupervised until they were 2 months old. We got them at a month old. At 6 weeks he agreed to share my lap with them. By 2.5 months he had picked a favorite & was busy being an Uncle go all 3. The other two neutered males were grumpy seniors that (still) avoided the ‘minions.’
Yes, I have heard that as well.

That's so cool! That is very fascinating. I have never heard of that. Is that even possible??? Wow, that's just crazy!
That phenomena is called "relactation," and can happen in all mammals, both male and female, including humans. I find it fascinating.
Yes, it is fascinating! I do know that women can "make" themselves produce milk. I have no idea how, though.
My former/retired stud, Chips, was utterly terrified of his own kittens when they were small (he’d run away and hide from them the one or two times the breeder attempted to introduce them in a safe, very supervised way), but was a good parents to older kittens, for whatever reason.
Different toms definitely have their own reactions, though. I know a breeder of poly Maine Coons who’s stud just loves kittens. He got into nesting boxes to babysit and groom kittens, even back before he was interested in breeding, himself (the breeder used an external stud for their first litter or two, as her boy was just not ready/interested in her queen yet).
That's very interesting. How could he be scared of cute teeny tiny kittens? Yes, I guess every male just acts differently around kittens.
To answer your original question, no, male cats do not try to kill unborn kittens. As has been mentioned, they are either trying to mate ( toms can be highly aggressive in their mating), or, less likely but still feasible, it's a case of a cat smelling 'different', like when you bring a cat back from the vet and it creates friction with other household cats.
I'm bemused about the premise. I certainly haven't read that anywhere.


We're going off-topic, but yes, this is fascinating. I have a friend who had it occur with cats she was fostering.
Okay, thank you! Thank you all for your help and knowledge!
 

jefferd18

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I have heard that all my life but I have never witnessed it myself.
Over at Hoods, where I get most of my feral kittens, the toms treat the babies better than their mom when she has had enough of them. When I have brought pregnant cats into my house, my own tom cats never bother her kittens. Curious maybe, but never aggressive.
 

susanm9006

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I have heard that all my life but I have never witnessed it myself.
Over at Hoods, where I get most of my feral kittens, the toms treat the babies better than their mom when she has had enough of them. When I have brought pregnant cats into my house, my own tom cats never bother her kittens. Curious maybe, but never aggressive.
Unfortunately I have seen it.
 
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KittyJ

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They do. There have been several unfortunate cases discussed on TCS, even. Domestic Neutered Male Cat Killed Kitten :( is one of them.
I actually read that but the male was newly neutered so the hormones hadn't quite left his body.
I have heard that all my life but I have never witnessed it myself.
Over at Hoods, where I get most of my feral kittens, the toms treat the babies better than their mom when she has had enough of them. When I have brought pregnant cats into my house, my own tom cats never bother her kittens. Curious maybe, but never aggressive.
That's good.
Unfortunately I have seen it.
Oh no! I am so sorry.
 
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