Do cats ever reject their own kittens? Causes, Signs, and Prevention

Do cats ever reject their own kittens? Cats are known for their nurturing nature, especially when it comes to their offspring. However, it is not uncommon for cats to reject their own kittens under certain circumstances.

Understanding the reasons behind this behavior is essential for cat owners and breeders alike. In this article, we will delve into the topic of whether cats can reject their own kittens.

We will explore the possible causes of this behavior, the signs to look out for, and the steps that can be taken to prevent or address the issue.

By gaining insights into this aspect of feline behavior, we can better care for our beloved cats and their precious kittens.

I. Reasons for Cat-Kitten Rejection:

Do cats ever reject their own kittens

Cat-kitten rejection can occur for various reasons, and it is important to identify the underlying cause in order to address the issue effectively. Some common reasons for a mother cat to reject her own kittens include:

  • Health Issues: If a mother cat senses that one or more of her kittens are sick or weak, she may reject them to prioritize the survival of the stronger ones.
  • Stress or Fear: Cats can be sensitive to stress or fear, and if they perceive a threat or uncomfortable environment, they may reject their kittens as a response.
  • Inexperience or Young Age: Young or first-time mother cats may lack the necessary maternal instincts or have limited knowledge of how to care for their kittens, leading to rejection.
  • Genetic Factors: In some cases, genetic factors or inherited traits can contribute to a mother cat rejecting her kittens.
  • Environmental Factors: Changes in the environment, such as relocation or introduction of new animals, can disrupt the bonding process between a mother cat and her kittens, potentially resulting in rejection.
  • Understanding these reasons can help cat owners identify potential triggers and take appropriate measures to prevent or address cat-kitten rejection.

II. Signs of Cat-Kitten Rejection:

mother cat rejects kittens a

Cat owners should be observant of certain signs that may indicate cat-kitten rejection. These signs can vary depending on the individual cat and the specific circumstances. Some common signs of rejection include:

  • Aggression towards the kittens, such as hissing, swatting, or growling.
  • Avoidance or neglect of the kittens, such as refusing to nurse or groom them.
  • Separating from the kittens, spending less time with them, or avoiding the nesting area.
  • Agitation or restlessness when near the kittens, as if seeking distance or escape.
  • Abandonment of the kittens, leaving them alone or displaying little interest in their well-being.
  • If any of these signs are observed, it is important to address the situation promptly to ensure the well-being of the kittens.

III. Prevention and Intervention:

Preventing or addressing cat-kitten rejection requires a proactive approach from cat owners and breeders. Here are some strategies that can help:

  • Provide a calm and safe environment: Creating a stress-free and comfortable environment for the mother cat and her kittens can minimize the chances of rejection. Ensure a quiet and secluded nesting area where the mother can feel secure.
  • Support the mother cat’s needs: Providing the mother cat with nutritious food, fresh water, and a clean litter box is essential for her overall well-being and can contribute to her ability to care for her kittens.
  • Socialization and positive experiences: Gradually introducing the mother cat to positive experiences and gentle socialization can help build her confidence and reduce stress, making her more likely to accept and care for her kittens.
  • Seek professional assistance: If a mother cat consistently rejects her kittens or shows signs of aggression, it is advisable to seek guidance from a veterinarian or animal behaviorist who can provide expert advice and intervention.
  • Foster care or supplementation: In cases where a mother cat continues to reject her kittens, it may be necessary to provide supplemental care or find a foster mother cat who can nurse and care for the kittens.

By implementing these preventive measures and seeking timely intervention, cat owners and breeders can increase the chances of successful bonding and minimize the risk of cat-kitten rejection.

FAQ Related to Do cats ever reject their own kittens?

Why do cats sometimes reject their own kittens?

Cats may reject their kittens due to various reasons such as health issues in the kittens, stress or fear experienced by the mother cat, inexperience or young age of the mother, genetic factors, or environmental changes disrupting the mother’s nesting instincts.

How can I tell if a mother cat is rejecting her kittens?

Signs of cat-kitten rejection include aggressive behavior towards the kittens, avoiding or neglecting them, physically separating from the kittens, restlessness, and even abandonment.

What should I do if I suspect a mother cat is rejecting her kittens?

If you suspect cat-kitten rejection, it’s important to monitor the situation closely. Provide a quiet and safe space for the mother and kittens and observe the mother’s behavior.
If the rejection persists or becomes aggressive, it’s advisable to seek assistance from a veterinarian or animal behaviorist.

Can I intervene to help the kittens if the mother is rejecting them?

Yes, you can intervene to ensure the well-being of the kittens. If the mother cat is neglecting or rejecting the kittens, you may need to step in and provide supplemental care, such as bottle feeding and keeping them warm.
However, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian for guidance and support.

What can I do to prevent cat-kitten rejection?

To prevent cat-kitten rejection, provide a calm and stress-free environment for the mother cat during pregnancy and after birth.
Minimize disruptions, maintain a consistent routine, and ensure the mother has access to a quiet nesting area.
Additionally, socialize the mother cat and expose her to positive experiences with humans and other animals.

Is it possible for a mother cat to accept her kittens after initially rejecting them?

Yes, it is possible for a mother cat to accept her kittens after an initial period of rejection. This can occur if the mother’s stress or fear subsides, or if she receives appropriate support and guidance from her caregiver.

Should I remove the rejected kittens from the mother?

It depends on the severity of the rejection and the safety of the kittens. If the mother cat is displaying aggressive behavior or neglecting the kittens to the point of endangering their health, it may be necessary to remove them and provide them with proper care.

Can fostering help with cat-kitten rejection?

Yes, fostering can be a helpful solution if a mother cat continues to reject her kittens. Placing the kittens with a trusted foster caregiver who can provide the necessary care and attention can greatly increase their chances of survival and well-being.

Are there any medical conditions that can contribute to cat-kitten rejection?

Yes, certain medical conditions in either the mother cat or the kittens, such as illness, pain, or hormonal imbalances, can contribute to cat-kitten rejection.
It’s important to have both the mother and the kittens examined by a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.

Can cat-kitten rejection be prevented in future pregnancies?

In some cases, cat-kitten rejection may be more likely to occur in certain individuals or due to specific circumstances.
To help prevent it in future pregnancies, provide proper care and support to the mother cat, address any health issues promptly, and ensure a calm and nurturing environment for her and her kittens.

Remember, if you’re facing cat-kitten rejection, it’s always best to seek guidance from a veterinarian or animal behaviorist who can provide personalized advice based on the specific situation.


While cats generally exhibit strong maternal instincts, cat-kitten rejection is a reality that cat owners may face. Understanding the reasons behind this behavior and being aware of the signs can help address the issue effectively.

By creating a supportive environment, providing proper care, and seeking professional assistance when needed, cat owners can increase the likelihood of successful bonding between mother cats and their kittens.

Remember, each cat and situation is unique, so patience and empathy are key when addressing cat-kitten rejection. With the right approach, it is possible to navigate this challenging aspect of feline behavior and ensure the well-being of both the mother cat and her kittens.