Do male cats help raise kittens?
Male Cat Nurtures Two Rescue Kittens and Raises Them into Beautiful Cats.
A family brought home two little kittens in need of motherly love. Their older cat took them under his wing and decided to become their new dad.
Meet Amelie and Canele!
This brother and sister duo came to their new home after they were rescued from a shelter at two months old. Once they settled in, they were introduced to the 3-year-old feline resident, Sora.
Right away, the kittens wanted his attention and would run up to him when he was drinking water or just napping in a cat bed.
«Sora was a bit cautious at first, but soon he began to take care of them,» Rie told Love Meow.
The older cat started grooming the kittens several times a day, and even carried them like a cat mother would from one spot to another for more cuddles and bath time.
Sora took on the role of a mother cat. [Scroll down for full video]
«Amelie and Canele trusted Sora from the day they met. They loved him before I even knew it,» Rie said.
The kittens became very attached to their new dad.
Cuddle time with Papa Sora!
Papa Sora taught the kittens how to drink water from a bowl and many other feline skills.
The kittens looked up to him and followed him around the house.
Mimicking their papa.
They play together, and Papa Sora watches over them every step of the way.
By the end of the day, they are always snuggling in a cuddle puddle.
Sora is also a rescue that the family took in when he was just a kitten. Now he is giving the same love that he received to these two siblings and raising them as his own.
Eight months later, their bond is stronger than ever!
Watch their story in this cute video:
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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.
Table of Contents
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.
Do Male Cats Take Care Of Kittens?
It is a popular notion that male cats do not take an active part in caring for their kittens. This role is relegated to the female cats since they are the ones who nurture the litter from the womb until they wean the kittens. However, many cat owners attest that their male cats exhibit paternal instincts toward kittens, regardless if it is their own offspring or not.
Do male cats take care of kittens?
Yes, there are many instances where male cats take care of kittens. This is often observed in a domestic setting. In such a setting, male cats are usually neutered so they are less aggressive toward kittens. Domesticated male cats are more receptive to and relaxed around kittens since they have ample resources and there is no pressure to outbreed other males as opposed to an undomesticated or feral setup. They tend to groom the kittens, play with them, and help the mama cat watch over them.
One classic example of a nurturing male cat is a domestic shorthair cat named Pokey. He is famous for helping foster at least 80 kittens. He has gained fame through social media for helping his owners in grooming and caring for young kittens until they are old enough to be adopted.
Among feral cat colonies, it has also been observed that the dominant male cats tend to care for kittens within their colonies. They will groom, share their food and break up fights between kittens by separating them gently with one paw.
However, while there are many testimonies of nurturing male cats, it is also typical for male cats to ignore and not care for kittens. According to Dr. Katherine Houpt, a veterinary doctor at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, some male cats, especially those that have access to the outdoors, will usually leave the mama cat and the kittens and ignore them. There are instances that a father cat will attack the mother cat since she smells different after giving birth.
If a strange male cat goes near the mother cat and the kittens, the father cat will try to kill the kittens, just as lions do. He will do this with the notion that if the kittens are gone, the mother cat will no longer be nursing, so she will go into heat again and be willing to mate.
Other tomcats tend to kill kittens that are not theirs. This is reminiscent of the wild cat instinct wherein killing a rival’s litter will keep the rival cat from spreading its genes. It will give the killer an edge to increase his offspring among other female cats.
Interestingly, how a male cat behaves around kittens has a lot to do with its background and general disposition. Male cats or tomcats that are aggressive or nervous toward other cats may not be able to adjust well to having kittens around. However, some tomcats are very nurturing and loving toward kittens. Not every male cat will take on a mentor or caregiver role, but as a cat owner, you can guide and help your tomcat to foster a good relationship with kittens or younger cats.
How should I introduce newborn kittens to a male cat?
You should not allow the male cat any access to the newborn kittens, especially if unsupervised. If you observe that your tomcat has fatherly instincts, introduce him to the kittens gradually. However, you should only do this when the kittens are around six to eight weeks old. If your tomcat manifests the slightest aggression, intervene immediately and keep him separated from the mama cat and the kittens.
How can I prevent a male cat from attacking kittens?
You can prevent a male cat from attacking kittens by making sure that he is in a secure place, that he has plenty of space, and letting him feel that his territory is not threatened. Provide him areas that he can retreat to, such as a den. Ensure that he has the essential resources, like his water and food bowl as well as a litter box. See to it that his hunting instinct is fulfilled safely by providing interactive toys like feather toys like feather toys. Do not punish him if he acts aggressively toward the kittens. Gently remove him from the room and give him time to calm down. Make sure to reintroduce him to the kittens at another time with your supervision.
Will male cats protect kittens?
Yes, male cats protect kittens. Cat experts attest that this has been observed both among feral cat colonies and in a domestic setting. Feral tomcats may watch over the kittens while the mama cat is out looking for food. However, it is also typical for some male cats to ignore kittens completely.
Do male cats kill kittens?
Yes, some male cats kill kittens. Wild cats in particular will kill small cubs to bring the mama cat into mating season. Some tomcats may also kill kittens as a matter of confusion rather than aggression. There are instances when a poorly socialized tomcat will mistake a kitten for a female cat because it smells like a mama cat. The tomcat will go for a mating bite and accidentally break the kitten’s neck.
Does a father cat know his kittens?
Some cat owners attest that their father cat knows if the kittens are his. However, this is not always the case. There are some tomcats or male cats that will nurture, groom, and care for kittens regardless if they are their kittens or not. One cat owner notes that her father cat plays with, grooms, and does almost everything with kittens that are not his. However, this particular cat did not have the same close relationship with the next litter he fathered.
Male cats are believed to be aloof and distant toward kittens, often ignoring them or even scaring them away. However, this is not entirely true since there are male cats that take good care of kittens, regardless if they are the father or not. Some tomcats will take the role of caregiver or foster parent for orphaned kittens. Even feral tomcats can manifest paternal instincts toward kittens.
Image: istockphoto.com / Volodymyr_Plysiuk