Why Is My Cat Biting Her Newborn Kittens Head?

As a cat owner, there’s nothing quite as heartwarming as watching your furry feline care for her precious newborn kittens. But what happens when you see her biting their tiny heads? It can be a jarring sight that leaves you feeling confused and concerned. After all, aren’t cats supposed to be natural nurturers and protectors of their young?

The truth is, cats are complex creatures with behaviors that can sometimes leave us scratching our heads. And head-biting in newborn kittens is one such behavior. But fear not. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the reasons why cats bite their newborn kitten’s heads, debunk some common myths, and offer tips on how to keep your feline family happy and healthy.

From maternal instincts to social hierarchy, there are many factors that contribute to this seemingly aggressive act. We’ll explore each one in detail so you can better understand your cat’s behavior and provide the best care for both mom and kittens.

So why do cats bite their newborn kitten’s heads? Is it a sign of aggression or something else entirely? Join us on a journey through the fascinating world of feline behavior as we uncover the truth behind this puzzling behavior. Whether you’re an experienced cat owner or new to the game, our comprehensive guide will equip you with valuable insights into deciphering your cat’s behavior. Let’s dive in.

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What is Normal Feline Behavior?

Cats are fascinating creatures with a vast range of behaviors that make them unique and sometimes puzzling. One of the most well-known feline behaviors is grooming. Cats spend a significant amount of time licking their fur to keep it clean and healthy. Grooming also serves as a bonding activity between cats or with humans. So next time your cat licks you, know that it’s not just a grooming session, it’s also a sign of affection.

Another common behavior among cats is their hunting instinct. As natural predators, they love playing with toys that mimic prey, such as feather toys or mice toys. Hunting playtime is an essential part of a cat’s routine and helps them burn off excess energy.

Despite their predatory instincts, cats are also known for their independent nature. Unlike dogs, they do not demand constant attention from their owners and are content to spend most of their days sleeping or lounging in a sunny spot. However, this doesn’t mean that cats don’t crave human companionship. Some cats may seek out human interaction and enjoy being petted or cuddling on laps.

It’s important to note that every cat has its own personality and preferences, just like people do. Some cats may be more social than others, while some may prefer to keep to themselves. As long as your cat’s behavior isn’t causing harm or distress to themselves or others, it can generally be considered normal.

However, if you notice any changes in your cat’s behavior or routine that cause concern, it’s best to seek the advice of a veterinarian. Behaviors such as excessive grooming or scratching could signal skin allergies or parasites, while hiding or avoiding interaction could indicate anxiety or depression. Changes in appetite or litter box habits could signal a urinary tract infection or other medical issues.

Stimulating Breathing

When a mother cat gives birth, she will lick her newborn kittens to remove the amniotic sac and umbilical cord, but sometimes she’ll use her teeth instead. This can be alarming for cat owners, but it’s important to understand that this behavior should not be mistaken for aggression or harm towards the kitten.

Biting the kitten’s head is a crucial step in helping them take their first breaths and adapt to their new environment. It is essential for a kitten’s survival that they start breathing on their own as soon as possible. A mother cat’s bite helps stimulate breathing by clearing any fluids from their airways, similar to how humans might pat a baby’s back to help them burp or cough up phlegm.

However, excessive or aggressive biting can cause injury or even death to the kitten. If you notice this behavior from your cat, it’s important to seek veterinary care immediately. The mother cat may be experiencing medical issues that require attention, or the kitten may be injured or in distress.

Understanding these behaviors can help cat owners provide better care for their furry friends and appreciate their fascinating instincts even more. Here are some sub-topics to explore related to stimulating breathing in cats:

  • Other ways mother cats stimulate breathing: While biting may be one way mother cats stimulate breathing, licking is more common. Mother cats will typically lick their kittens’ faces and bodies vigorously to dry them off and stimulate their senses. They may also use their paws to rub the kittens’ bodies and encourage breathing.
  • Breathing problems in cats: Just like humans, cats can suffer from respiratory problems that make it difficult for them to breathe. These can include infections, allergies, asthma, and even cancer. Knowing the signs of breathing problems in cats can help you get them the treatment they need.
  • How to assist a struggling kitten: If you notice a kitten struggling to breathe, there are steps you can take to help. Gently clear any fluids or obstructions from their airways, and try to stimulate breathing by rubbing their bodies or blowing gently into their nose. However, it’s important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible if the kitten continues to struggle.

Establishing Dominance and Discipline

It may seem concerning, but this behavior is a natural part of the animal kingdom and serves an important purpose in establishing dominance and discipline within the litter.

Maternal aggression is the term used to describe this behavior, which typically begins during birth or shortly thereafter when the mother feels threatened by the presence of humans or other animals. Here are some reasons why a mother cat may bite her kitten’s head:

  • To assert dominance: When a mother cat bites her kitten’s head, she is showing her offspring who is in charge. This behavior teaches boundaries and helps kittens understand their place in the hierarchy of the litter.
  • As a form of discipline: If a kitten behaves disruptively, such as nursing out of turn or biting or scratching its siblings, the mother may use aggression to correct its behavior. This type of discipline teaches kittens that aggressive behavior is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.

While maternal aggression is normal in the animal kingdom, it can become excessive and harmful if left unchecked. A mother cat that consistently harms her offspring or displays excessive aggression may require intervention to ensure the safety and well-being of the kittens.

If you notice any concerning behavior from a mother cat, it is essential to monitor her closely and intervene if necessary. Separating the kittens from their mother can be done by finding a foster mother cat or bottle-feeding them yourself.

Excessive Biting or Aggression as a Sign of Stress

Such behavior is often an indication of stress in cats, and understanding the underlying causes and signs can help us address the problem effectively.

Stressful situations for mother cats can stem from changes in their environment, like moving to a new home or having too many people around. Loud noises or disruptions to their daily routine can also cause significant stress, leading to anxiety and aggressive behavior towards their kittens.

It’s important to note that not all biting or aggression towards newborn kittens is a sign of stress. Mother cats may bite or groom their kittens as part of normal maternal behaviors. However, excessive or aggressive biting requires close monitoring and veterinary advice if necessary.

To help reduce stress levels in mother cats, it’s essential to provide them with a calming and quiet environment. This includes minimizing disruptions and creating a comfortable and safe space for them to rest. Interactive playtime and toys can redirect any aggressive behavior towards more appropriate outlets.

Proper nutrition, hydration, and regular veterinary check-ups are also crucial for the overall well-being of your cat. Underlying health issues can contribute to stress levels, making it critical to seek professional advice if biting or aggression continues despite efforts to reduce stress.

Health Issues in Cats that can Lead to Aggressive Behaviour

But when mother cats display aggressive behavior towards their newborn kittens, it can be a cause for concern. In some cases, this aggression can be attributed to underlying health issues that require prompt attention.

Mastitis is one such health issue that can cause a mother cat to become aggressive towards her newborns. This condition results from an infection of the mammary gland, leading to pain and inflammation. As a consequence, nursing becomes uncomfortable for the mother cat, leading to agitation and aggression towards her kittens when they try to feed. Mastitis requires veterinary care, as it can become serious if left untreated.

Feline hyperesthesia syndrome (FHS) is another potential health issue that can lead to maternal aggression in cats. This condition causes cats to experience hypersensitivity and discomfort around their back and tail area. If the mother cat feels uncomfortable or in pain during nursing, she may exhibit aggressive behavior towards her kittens.

Postpartum depression is also a possibility for mother cats, leading to unusual behavior such as aggression towards their kittens. Hormonal changes and other factors related to the birthing process can cause this condition. Consulting with a veterinarian who can diagnose and treat the condition is crucial if you suspect your cat may have postpartum depression.

How to Handle Biting Behavior in Mother Cats

It is essential to understand the reasons behind this behavior and take appropriate actions to address it.

One reason why mother cats bite their kitten’s head is for grooming purposes. Mother cats use their teeth to clean their kittens and remove any dirt or debris from their fur. Although this behavior is natural, it can become too aggressive and lead to injury. If the biting becomes too forceful, it may be necessary to separate the mother cat from her kittens temporarily until she calms down.

Discipline is another reason why a mother cat may bite her kitten’s head. This behavior is often seen when the kitten misbehaves or refuses to follow the mother’s instructions. While this behavior may seem harsh, it is a natural instinct for the mother cat to discipline her kittens and teach them proper behavior. However, if you notice excessive biting, it may be necessary to intervene and redirect the mother’s attention.

Health issues can also cause biting behavior in mother cats towards their newborn kittens. If the mother cat experiences pain or discomfort while nursing, she may bite her kittens as a way to relieve her discomfort.

Similarly, if a kitten is sick or weak, the mother cat may bite them in an attempt to stimulate them to nurse and gain strength. In such cases, seeking advice from a veterinarian is crucial as they can diagnose and treat any underlying health issues.

If you notice biting behavior in your mother cat, it is important to monitor the situation closely and intervene if necessary. Providing a comfortable and secure environment for the mother and her kittens can help alleviate stress and anxiety.

If the biting continues, consulting with a veterinarian or animal behaviorist can help identify any underlying issues and provide appropriate treatment.

Understanding the Difference Between Normal and Abnormal Behaviour

Normal feline behavior includes grooming, playing, hunting, and sleeping, all of which are natural instincts that aid cats in surviving in the wild. In contrast, abnormal behavior can include excessive vocalization, aggression, or inappropriate elimination, and if you observe any of these behaviors in your cat, it’s crucial to seek veterinary care to address potential health issues or behavioral problems.

When it comes to mother cats and their kittens, some behaviors may be alarming. For example, it’s typical for a mother cat to groom her offspring and carry them around by the scruff of their necks. However, biting the head of a newborn kitten is not a typical behavior and may indicate maternal aggression or stress in the mother cat.

Maternal aggression can occur when a mother cat feels threatened by her kittens or is overly protective. This type of aggression can result in serious injuries and even death of the kittens. Stress in a mother cat can also lead to abnormal behavior towards her newborn kittens. Environmental changes, lack of socialization, or underlying health issues can contribute to stress in cats.

If you notice any unusual behavior from a mother cat towards her newborn kittens, it’s vital to seek veterinary care immediately. A veterinarian or animal behaviorist can help identify any underlying issues and provide appropriate treatment for a comfortable and secure environment for both the mother cat and her kittens.

Seeking Professional Advice from Veterinarians

If you are experiencing this issue with your feline friend, it’s essential to seek professional advice from veterinarians. These animal experts have the knowledge, training, and experience to provide valuable insights into managing the behavior of your beloved pet.

Medical Conditions

One possible reason for maternal aggression is an underlying medical condition. For instance, mastitis is an infection that affects a mother cat’s mammary glands, leading to irritability and aggression towards her kittens. A veterinarian can diagnose and treat this condition, helping your cat recover and stop biting her newborns’ heads.

Stress and Anxiety

Another common cause of maternal aggression is stress or anxiety. Cats can feel uncomfortable in their environment, leading to aggressive behavior towards their kittens. A veterinarian can help identify the source of stress and recommend strategies to reduce it, making your cat feel more relaxed and less likely to bite her kittens’ heads.

Ensuring Proper Care

Seeking professional advice from a veterinarian is also crucial in ensuring that your kittens are healthy and well-cared for. A veterinarian can perform wellness checks on the kittens, monitor their growth and development, and provide guidance on proper nutrition and socialization. By doing this, you can be confident that your kittens are growing up healthy and happy.


To sum it up, cats are fascinating creatures that can leave us perplexed with their complex behaviors. When a mother cat bites her newborn kitten’s head, it can be concerning for pet owners. However, there are several reasons why this behavior occurs, ranging from maternal instincts to stimulating breathing and social hierarchy.

By understanding these factors, cat owners can provide better care for their furry friends and appreciate their unique instincts. It is crucial to note that not all biting or aggression towards newborn kittens is normal and may require intervention if excessive or harmful.

To ensure the health and well-being of your kittens, seeking professional advice from veterinarians is essential. Medical conditions, stress, and anxiety can contribute to maternal aggression in cats, and a veterinarian can help identify the underlying issue and recommend appropriate treatment.

As responsible pet owners, we have a vital role to play in providing a safe and comfortable environment for both the mother cat and her kittens. By doing so, we can ensure that they receive the best care possible and thrive in their feline family dynamic.