Did you know that a pigeon kills its baby by breaking its eggs if a human being touches them?
That is true and many other animals kill or eat their kids for various reasons. Do you ever wonder if cats ever do that?
Mother cats do not eat their kittens just because you touch their kittens. She may eat them but their reasons may be different. Touching her kittens may stress the mother cat which may trigger the unusual behavior of eating her kitten but that is very unconventional.
Entertaining the thought that one might eat their own kid seems kind of bizarre but cats are a family of predators, hunting and killing are what they do to survive.
It’s just that sometimes their own kids fall their prey.
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Is It Ok If I Touch A Newborn Kitten?
Yes, it is ok to touch newborn kittens but it is advised to do so after they have opened their eyes, and that too if it is highly necessary. If required, you should also ask the mother cat to consent before touching the kittens.
You should take your hand near the mother cat so that she could sniff you and get familiar with your scent, then pet her head. If the mother cat lets you pet her head, leans into your touch, or lets you touch her consider it safe to touch or pick up one of her kittens.
If the mother cat is not comfortable or feels unsafe, she may get stressed. This would prompt her to move her litter to a place she considers safe for her kittens.
If after giving birth, you interact with the cat and sometime later find them missing, you do not need to stress over it as the mother cat would have felt a little unsafe and would have moved her family to a safer location.
Insecurity tends to stress the mother cats, if they are under heavy duress they may take some actions to encounter it. These include eating her kittens but the occurrence of such is on very rare instances.
If the mother cat is residing with you for a long time she is familiar with your scent, and she may allow you to touch and handle her kittens.
It is still advised not to interfere in the little cat family until they are a week older. Unless it is required necessarily.
Young kittens are very fragile, they may look alluring and cute, you may even want to hold them but you should refrain from doing so, for at least a week after they are born.
The mother cat is very territorial and protective of their babies you may cause her stress if you touch her newborn kittens. You don’t want to do that, right?
You might be interested to read about why do mother cats attack their kittens
What Happens If You Touch a Newborn Kitten?
You may not pose a threat but there are several things that could happen if you touch a newborn kitten.
Newborn kittens are the cutest little creatures and sometimes all you wish to do is scoop them up and hold them close to you.
Along with being so lovable, they are also very fragile and sensitive. They are also very weak and are at constant risk of getting exposed to viruses or infections.
Make sure you have a clean hand before touching a newborn kitten. It is advisable to keep their place of residence extra clean and hygienic or they may catch some disease
Mother cats are highly possessive of their kittens, they may attack and hurt you if they feel uncomfortable and threatened by you.
If you don’t ask the mother cat for consent she may hiss or even bite you, because to her you are a possible threat.
A mother cat at some point abandons her kittens. This happens generally when the queen thinks the kittens are old enough and ready to fend for themselves.
Seldom does it happen that a mother cat feels like she cannot protect her kittens or the kittens stress her too much so she abandons them?
If you touch the kitten and it stresses the mother out she might abandon it
Seems like a thing a human being would do, doesn’t it?
Also, check out are cats protective of their kittens
If the queen has birthed the kitten through a C-Section, there is no release of hormones that link her to the kitten so she might not recognize them.
If you touch a newborn kitten before you are supposed to, the kitten might get your scent on it and the queen might not recognize her and ‘Reject’ her.
Rejection is different from abandonment as the kitten might stick around the mother and with the rest of the litter but would not be entitled to the mother’s care or even her milk.
Young kittens are very hypothermic, they typically channel all their energy into keeping themselves warm and huddle close to each other for the same.
If you are not careful enough picking them up might trigger the hypothermia and as they do not have a fully developed immune system, they might succumb to it.
Remember to be very careful and think twice before you pick or touch a newborn kitten because the mother cat may not eat them but they might still be hurt if you are not careful enough.
Also, check out why do cats bring you their kittens
Will A Cat Abandon Her Kitten If I Touch Them?
No, the cat would not abandon her kittens just because you touched them or held them.
Timing is crucial in reaching this conclusion. It is a possibility your touch might be indirectly the reason the cat has abandoned her kittens.
Abandonment is inevitable for kittens, but more often than not happens when the kittens are older and more independent.
But leaving the newborn kittens is atypical of the queen there could be numerous various reasons the mother cat may be doing that.
If a kitten is sick and the mother cat cannot take care of her or is incapable to do so she might leave the kitten stranded. The kitten might probably die.
This might also happen when the mother cat is sick, the disease she has might be contagious so she may remove herself from her family to protect them.
Abandonment is frequently observed in animal families throughout the world, cats are no different they also abandon their kids, and at some point in time, they would have probably been left to fend on their own.
So if you are carrying the guilt of being the reason for a jilted family, you should relieve yourself because your touching might not even be the reason if a kitten is abandoned.
Can You Touch Newborn Kittens With Gloves?
Yes, you can touch a newborn kitten with gloves, actually, it is preferred that you touch them with gloves rather than with bare hands because the gloves would obstruct a lot of your scent to get on the baby kitten.
Gloves act as a sort of protective barrier and do not enable as much of your scent to get on the kitten. This may make the mother cat feel safer and stress them out a little less.
If the mother cat is accustomed to you or is comfortable around you, you may not need gloves but it is still preferable to wear them.
Not only does it help with the cause of unfamiliar scents but also acts as a barrier from infectious germs in our hands, that could be passed on to the kittens.
Gloves are harmless and are a considerate precaution. You should really use them if you touch a newborn kitten.
How Long After a Cat Has Kittens Can You Touch Them?
You can touch the newborn kittens as soon as they open their eyes, but it is recommended that you do not touch them until they are one week older.
This gives them time to adjust to the surroundings and also gives the mother cat enough space, so it may let you touch them without putting up a fight.
If you touch them too soon, the assault of new scents may be overwhelming for them, they may get stressed and anxious which would cause the mother cat to be stressed.
A stressed mother cat may even harm the kittens or abandon them. we don’t want that do we?
Before you touch them ask the mother cat for consent. If she is comfortable and lets you pet her she may let you touch her kittens.
But this does not mean you shouldn’t be careful. You should ensure your hands are clean so that you may not cause the kitten any sort of infection or anything.
If the mother cat consents, make sure you handle the babies gently and care for one kitten at a time. If you are reckless in handling the kittens the mother cat may evoke her consent and might even attack you.
So be very careful while handling them and do not let little kids near them and even older kids should be supervised if they are handling the kittens.
So would you be extra careful or reckless in handling the young babies? If it were me I would go with the former.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does a mother cat eat her kittens often?
No, a mother cat does not eat her kittens often. In rare cases, she eats due to issues like stress, female mastitis, sickness, or if the mother is malnourished. These are the rare cases when the mother cat would eat her kittens but that too if the issue is way too severe and there is no other way out.
Why does a mother cat eat her kitten?
There could be various reasons why a mother cat eats her kittens. Malnourishment and sickness are prominent reasons which have been observed.
If a kitten is abandoned does it mean it would have been rejected by the queen?
Rejection and abandonment of kittens are different things. If a kitten is abandoned it is not even involved in the mother’s life and probably never see her again, but if the kitten is rejected she may continue to live with the mother but would be denied attention, care, and even the mother’s milk.
Animals eating their children are not intermittent. It happens more often than not. Cats exhibiting such behavior though is odd.
The mother cat might have reasons if she ever eats her kittens but that is still rare.
Abandonment is a common issue but eating the kids is very infrequent and happens under very drastic conditions.
It is a rumor that a kitten may kill or eat her children if a human being touches them . that is not true at all. It may be a little catalyst in a series of previously occurring events but a cat would not eat her children for such menial reasons.
But we humans need to be careful too while handling the feline babies. They are very fragile and sensitive. They are more prone to infection and hypothermia.
Make sure you get the queen’s consent before coddling her kittens because she gets stressed and puts up a fight that could hurt you too.
Make sure you are careful before touching them.