The Museum of Hoaxes
hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive
 
Cannibalistic Cats
I've recently discovered a good blog named The Rambler that delves into a lot of hoaxy material. Recently Mark (who writes The Rambler) posted a disturbing entry about some relatives of his who let their cats run out of control:

They never cleaned the litterbox so the cats defecated all over the house. They particularly liked shoes and closets so getting dressed must have been like camping in Africa. My wife's cat makes so much noise when he's hungry that I can't imagine anyone not feeding one cat let alone 11, but they frequently let them go without food. The mother cat eventually turned cannibalistic and would wait behind furniture or random piles of crap for a kitten to walk by. When one was unlucky enough to do so, she leapt out, killed and ate it.

A cannibalistic mother cat? I'm assuming Mark isn't pulling our leg, but I've never heard of such a thing. Though I should add that my understanding of cat behavior is mostly shaped by the behavior of the one plump and lazy cat who lives with me.
Categories: Animals
Posted by The Curator on Mon Nov 29, 2004
Cats are gross.
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Mon Nov 29, 2004  at  01:30 PM
I think he's making it up. The cats would escape from the house and go foraging before they'd eat each other. Cats normally won't hunt anything larger than mice or small birds.

My cats don't do much hunting beyond their own food bowls, but they're pretty domesticated.
Posted by Big Gary C  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Mon Nov 29, 2004  at  03:27 PM
I don't know about *mother* cats turning cannibal, but in the farm of my grandfather, when the old male cat was displaced by a new wild male cat, the new cat not only killed all kittens that were recently born, that's quite normal in the animal world, but also partially ate them... I found them, and I remember quite well the shock of seeing the body of kittens gutted and quartered...
Posted by fizz  in  italy  on  Mon Nov 29, 2004  at  03:56 PM
In the wild, cats form prides of females. The males meanwhile are solitary roamers. The male cats will kill kittens indiscriminately. In lion prides, male lions do the same, killing or driving away all cubs, particularly male cubs, who aren't his. I've never heard them eating the kittens, or of a female hunting kittens in the pride. National Geographic has a film documentary on cats that discusses their behavior in the wild.

re: cats are gross -- I'm sure cats think you are gross too.
Posted by Bill B.  on  Mon Nov 29, 2004  at  05:47 PM
Analogies between housecats and lions or tigers aren't totally invalid, but they shouldn't be taken too far.
As is the case with mysterious cattle mutilations and so on, if you didn't actually see the tomcat killing the kittens, I wouldn't be certain that it wasn't some other animal, or even that they didn't die of other causes (accident, disease, genetic defects) to be scavenged later by birds, dogs, rats, insects, or almost anything else.
I have heard of male (feral) cats killing kittens, but if the mother is around she usually defends them to the point of driving off any males.
Posted by Big Gary C  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Mon Nov 29, 2004  at  07:11 PM
My analogy comes from the documentary study by NG about feral cats. I stated the same thing you did - males will kill kittens, females won't. I only made one analogy, so I don't think I went "too far."

National Feral Cat Day is October 16, if you can believe that feral cats rate their own official day.
Posted by Bill B.  on  Mon Nov 29, 2004  at  07:37 PM
Well, even if I didn't was present at the moment the tomcat killed the kittens (if I had, I would have driven him away), they were hidden in an old farm house, at the second floor, where I and some friends went quite often using it as a quiet place were to hang out. Moreover, I saw the tomcat coming out of that house just minutes before finding them, and I'm pretty sure that the only predator able to slay them around here was the tomcat, as our dogs had already befriended the kittens (I live in Italy, in a pretty tame farming environment... there're not very much predators apart from humans here around). So, even if quite unusual (even my grandmother commented on that), I'm quite sure that I've witnessed one episode of cat cannibalism (oh, I forgot to mention... I found them when the fact was really recent, so it should be improbable that the cat killed them and somebody other scavenged).
About cat's social behavior, here in Italy (I don't know in other places) we have a special chanche to see it at work, as in the historical city centers, where cars cannot go, grow big colonies of cats, thanks even to the effort of some old womans that feed them regularly... In this environment, ethologists surprisingly observed that cats have an incredibly complex social behavior, much more than wild lions, with multi-level and non-linear hierarchies, favor-bartering and so on... and with complexity came an imprved chanche for unpredicatble behavior in exceptional circumstances....
Posted by fizz  in  Italy  on  Mon Nov 29, 2004  at  07:42 PM
I'm afraid this sort of thing is much more common than one might think, and this sounds like a fairly mild case. Check out http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/002253.html for a whole pile of links on the subject of animal hoarding.
Posted by Chris W  on  Mon Nov 29, 2004  at  09:09 PM
There are some cats living behind a local Taco Bell. It's sort of creepy. They're all white with spots. (Spot colors vary). It's almost like children of the corn...but with cats & a Taco Bell.

re: re: cats are gross -- I'm sure cats think you are gross too.

You have to have language skills to think. I only know 1 talking cat.
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Tue Nov 30, 2004  at  01:39 PM
I think this cat was the equivalent of Ted Bundy. God knows what influenced the thing--there were lots of drugs and alcohol in its environment as well as bad hygiene, loud noise, mold, and general filth.

I did see the cat attack its kittens (which weren't babies but on the verge of cat adulthood) on two occasions and saw a partially eaten kitten in the house but never saw her attack, kill, and eat one of her offspring in one sitting (for one thing, when I saw it, I yelled and chased her off the little cats). My cousin and friend thought the abuse was hilarious and most likely encouraged it. As I mentioned in the original post, I adopted/stole the puppy they kept because he was clawed all over his body (as well as starved and neglected).

The cat's owners swore that they saw her kill and eat her kittens but they weren't exactly trustworthy. She definitely attacked them and I have no doubt she would have killed the two I witnessed but it's possible the attacks were territorial.

But something ate out the stomach of the dead kitten I saw at their house. Personally I still think the mother did it but the other kittens might have scavenged the dead body. For all that went on there, I wouldn't put it past my cousin to have done it himself.
Posted by Mark  on  Tue Nov 30, 2004  at  09:55 PM
"You have to have language skills to think."

I must dissagree with that. I don't see why you can't think in pictures or ideas.
Posted by Razela  in  Chicago, IL  on  Tue Nov 30, 2004  at  10:12 PM
excaim Actually, mother cats will eat their young, if they are born deformed or sick. I have seen this myself many times, as I grew up at a house where we had numerous cats--tamed, but not domesticated. I can vividly remember seeing cats I loved and thought were the sweetest things chewing off the deformed legs of newborn kittens or chewing their umbilical cords down to the skin and through the belly, ending up killing the kittens. I've also seen kittens killed by tomcats, and usually they're mutilated, but not actually eaten. Of course, if an animal gets some flesh in its mouth in the course of mutilation, it's going to swallow (eat) the flesh.
Posted by Wyndruff  in  Gastonia, NC  on  Wed Dec 01, 2004  at  01:41 AM
Once my cat ate a frog. But it was too big to swallow whole & the legs were sticking out of it's mouth. It was gross. I don't really like pets of any kind. I had a turtle. But no matter how much sunlight & vitamins I gave it, it still got soft-shell & died. Then, one got really agressive, so I put it my mom's man-made pond. I never saw it again. My family managed to lose or kill (by accident) 4 hamsters in 2 days. We did well with chickens, as long as we didn't have roosters. The roosters would get too agressive & we'd have to kill them. One time, we tried to cut off a rooster's head & it jumped up & started running around w/ it's head dangling by this little bit of skin. It took another hour to kill it. We ate him. We felt good about it, since he had terrorized us in life & in...half-life. Then a neighbor's dog ate our chickens. When we found them the next day...it was gross.
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Wed Dec 01, 2004  at  12:25 PM
Wow, Maegan, and you say CATS are gross. grrr

At least cats are seldom off topic. wink
Posted by Big Gary C  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Wed Dec 01, 2004  at  02:20 PM
Razela, also animals obviously communicate with each other. Just because it's not spoken, doesn't make it less of a language. They obviously think and can form opinions. The level of reasoning skill may vary, but that animals have emotions and can form emotion-based opinions about people is clear.

As far as legs sticking out of a cat's mouth, felines don't swallow their prey whole. They use their rear molars to saw off meat. Their fangs are only for gripping and holding live prey while they kill it. That story is bunk.
Posted by Bill B.  on  Mon Dec 06, 2004  at  01:06 PM
IT IS NOT! I came stepped onto the back porch, looked at my cat who tried to meow but had a FROG STUCK IN IT'S MOUTH...and the feet were dangling on either side of his mouth. The cat's name was crooked tail & he ran away a few months later. He was called crooked tail...b/c someone swung him by his tail & it broke...so it stayed crooked!
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Mon Dec 06, 2004  at  01:55 PM
As you can see by my name, I'm a 'cat lady'. I had over 20 at one time. Luckily, I'm down to ten now, with only two more I'm trying to find homes for. Having been through a zillion litters of kittens (and now they're all fixed), and many vet visits, I'm nearly a cat expert. Not necessarily a feral tom will kill kittens. Tame toms will if they are new to a household, but the mother will do her best to defend them. Then, my cats have never been textbook 'normal'. They didn't hide to have their kittens, then curled up under my arm in bed at night. Even if they had them elsewhere, the litter ended up under my arm on the bed. I've had grown toms try to nurse the kittens, and they would babysit them. I've had two litters at once where one mother would steal kittens from the other litter. My cats are weird. But seldom are they gross. Stinky, messy, destructive, yes. But not gross. My dog sometimes is...
Posted by catlady  on  Wed Dec 15, 2004  at  03:17 AM
This is certainly the fisrt time I've come across a female cat doing this, and I have had cats and hold a B.Sc. in Zoology, with a post grad. degree in cluding animal behaviour. Certainly an earlier poster was right - male cats will kill and devour kittens, and I even knew a very territorial spayed male cat who did that. ( Yes, spayed, not nuetered - A veterinarian usaully makes one mistake and spays a male, i.e., ties off the internel tubes and leaves the testes intact, making a cat with most male behaviour but no sex drive and the castrate capacity for massive growth. ) He was notorious for consuming the stray kittens around the neighbourhood . . . But was as gentle as one to everyone and anything else. Except pigeons and ducks.
Posted by D F Stuckey  in  Auckland New Zealand  on  Mon Jan 17, 2005  at  05:56 AM
well... my boyfriends calico cat had 4 kittens 12 days ago. 3 grey and 1 orange. one of the grey had a smaller head then the rest. he came home to find the grey kitten with the smaller head, headless on the floor. he couldnt find the head anywhere. so he disposed of it and hes watching over the mother liek a hawk in case she decides to pull an ozzy osborne again.
Posted by Monroe  in  CA  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  01:54 AM
rolleyes

Hi all! I have a male cat that is only one years old and he has been hunting snakes. He will not hunt nothing else and I was wondering why he only hunts snakes. The only funny thing about it is that they are alive, he don't kill them. I have been told many of times that male cats do not hunt. I have two other male cats and also my neighbors male cats and none of them hunt. If anyone can get back to me to let me know why he has been hunting and if any of your male cats hunt and give me some feedback. Thank you: Mandi

smirk
Posted by Mandi  in  Pittsburgh, PA USA  on  Wed Jun 08, 2005  at  12:06 PM
I have a Mommy cat and three kittens and the kittens are about six weeks old. They have been missing for two days now. There has been two Tom cats fighting close to the house lately and I am wondering if one of the Tom cats had somethig to do with the kittens disappearing. We live in a remote area and it would be unlikely that anyone came while we were gone and took the three kittens. I would like to hear more from those persons who has had experiences with the Tom cats killing kittens of this age and size.
Posted by Marcia  on  Wed Jun 22, 2005  at  02:08 PM
Male lions in the wild will kill and eat the cubs if the other male backs off and goes away. This willthen cause the lioness to become ready for mating.

As for domestic cats I'm not sure but it is known more rabbits to kill it's own kittens in a litter and eat them if they think there is not enough food tog o around for all of them.
Posted by RTL  in  England  on  Thu Jul 14, 2005  at  08:55 AM
Cat cannibalism is actually a common phenomenon. In fact, one of the primary causes of kitten death is being eaten by its mother. Check out the following:

http://www.animalhealthchannel.com/felinepregnancy
Posted by Robert  on  Thu Nov 24, 2005  at  08:48 PM
Another good website that looks at feline cannibalism is here, which discusses "kitten mortality complex"

http://www.rapidvet.com/fading.html
Posted by Robert  on  Sat Nov 26, 2005  at  03:06 PM
today my 4-weeks old kitten, an adorable ginger that had been rescued , was snatched and killed by a huge tomcat in front of me. I am still shaking. I never expected anything so cruel to happen. I guess the tomcat felt that his territory had been 'invaded'...and i didn't know that he regarded my terrace as his territory.
I feel terribly sad, and blame myself for letting the kitten out. My flat looks so empty now, Drago's toys are still scattered around, and i cannot even bring myself to throw his food away. I thappened so quickly, it was almost unreal.
Beware if you have kittens, CATS DO EAT KITTENS.
Posted by laura  in  hong kong  on  Sat Dec 31, 2005  at  01:37 PM
Male cats do kill kittens, but rarely eat them unless the cat is starving.
What gets me about this whole topic is the failure of Mark to stop this sh*t. There, right in front of him, animals abused & killed because his cousin thought it amusing.
What else is his cousin guilty of?
Does he/she have access to children?
Posted by catshere  in  USA  on  Sun Mar 12, 2006  at  08:29 PM
I witnessed a mother cat eat her kitten. There was a cat that had kittens in our backyard. She had kittens about a week ago; 3 kittens. It was a really by storm yesterday and my wife and I was very worried about the week old kittens surviving. I told my wife that if the cat and kittens survive, I will bring them into the house. When morning came, I got up and went to find that they made it through the storm. I remember seeing 3 cats yesterday but today saw 2. I was about to turn and head into the house to get abox when I looked down and saw the other kitten laying about 2 feet from the others it was wet but still moving. The mother cat came near me and started meowing. I pointed to the kitten and she started licking it and then picked it up and took it back with her to where the others were. This next part is graphic...

When I came back with the box to put them all in (it took about 5-7 minutes), I took some cloth so that I could grab the kittens and not touch them. I put the first 2 in the box and I was waiting to get the last 1. At first, I thought the mother cat was licking and cleaning the kitten but then I saw blood on the side of the cat's face. I moved more of the weeds that were coving the cat's nesting; I saw the half eaten kitten. The mother cat ignored me and continued to eat her kitten. The mother cat was not hungry because I feed her yesterday before the storm and she eat regularly. I took the other kittens into the house. I called my wife to let her know that 1 kitten did not make it. I could not tell her since it would hurt her and most likely disgust her. I went back out to try to call the cat away but she would not leave. I looked again and saw that only the head of the kitten remained. Next, I heard a loud crunch and saw the mother cat finishing the kitten.

My conclusion to what happened is that some how the kitten must have gotten away from the nesting area during the storm and layed out in the rain. The mother must have sensed that her kitten was sick and was not going to live long. I guess I'm still a bit shocked. Its been about 3 hours now and kittens and mother cat are sleeping in the box comfortably.
Posted by hitsquad14  on  Mon Mar 20, 2006  at  01:18 PM
My tortoiseshell calico, Sunshine, had a litter of four kittens Sunday. Unfortunately, she had gone outside without us realizing it, and didn't make it back in to the house before she went into labor. She hid under a rose bush to have her babies. I didn't even know she was outside, when I opened my front door just in time to see my dog run out of the bushes with a new kitten in her mouth. I made her drop the kitten, but it was badly wounded and didn't live for long. My husband came out to help me retrieve Sunshine and the remaining (2) kittens. We brought her in the house and put her in a box where she soon after delivered her fourth kitten.
Two days ago, I noticed that one of the kittens was weak and unable to nurse on its own. I planned on bottle feeding her, but she died just a little later. I had taken the kitten out of the box to examine it, when a very disturbed Sunshine came to take it back. I thought maybe there was an ounce of life left in it that the she could sense, so I let her have the kitten. I planned on removing it later when Sunshine went out for fresh air. A short time later, I went over to the box to investigate some odd noises, and found that Sunshine was eating the dead kitten.
I knew that cats would discard/dump sick or dead kittens to eliminate odor from the nest and guard against predators, but I never heard of them eating them before. I was shocked and I felt bad for Sunshine. She felt she had to dispose of the body to keep her other kittens safe. If I had known there was a chance of that happening, I never would have let her take it back to the box.
Sunshine is a very protective mother. I know she would never hurt one of her live kittens. When there was something obviously wrong with her kitten, she kept grooming her and trying to nurse her. Even after it appeared that the kitten was dead Sunshine kept licking and moving it and doing her "mommy" meow. It was very sad. Sunshine was very careful and protective of herself while she was pregnant. About two weeks ago, she adopted an empty cardboard box in my living room. She moved right in and got it ready for having her babies. Unfortunately only one of them was born there. It's sad that two of her kittens are dead now. The good news is: the remaining two kittens are doing very well, as is Sunshine, and she is taking very good care of them. They are getting big and fat.
I love my cats. Sunshine is my spoiled house kitty. Besides her and her kittens, I have a lot of outside cats, (pets and feral.) They are all so pretty and sweet, each with their own personality. And they do wonders to keep the mouse population down. Cats are wonderful creatures!
It's a shame that Meagan thinks cats are gross. I think if she really got to know a cat, she couldn't help but love it. Cats can develop some really bad behaviors when they're not properly cared for. But when given all the love and attention they need, they thrive. Even if you can't recognize it, they return your affection.
Posted by ima_catperson  in  California  on  Thu Aug 31, 2006  at  02:59 PM
My cats have eaten their kittens before, but I have come to believe it may be that the dogs were playing the the kittens, and killed them, left them there, and the mom eats them so as to get rid of any contamination to her other kitties.
Posted by Humblestumble  on  Thu Oct 05, 2006  at  12:02 AM
MY cat ate one of her babies yesterday. I have looked around and this is not normal. The kitten looked fine to me but there may have been something wrong with it or her. The sight of the kittens head in the area that the others were in was goulish. This cat has already had two litters of kittens (this is her third) and she has never killed and eaten one of her kittens before. The sight will haugnt me for a very long while. The kitten was not ever two weeks old. They were born on Easter.
Posted by Ashley  in  Arbuckle  on  Thu Apr 19, 2007  at  02:41 PM
Comments: Page 1 of 2 pages  1 2 > 
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.
All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.