Why Do Mother Cats Hit Their Kittens

Why Do Mother Cats Hit Their Kittens?

Mother cats, also known as queens, are known for their nurturing and protective instincts towards their kittens. However, there are instances where mother cats may display aggressive behaviors, such as hitting their kittens. While it may seem concerning, there are several reasons why mother cats exhibit this behavior.

1. Establishing Discipline:
One reason mother cats hit their kittens is to establish discipline. By swatting or lightly hitting their kittens, they teach them boundaries and proper behavior. This helps the kittens develop social skills and learn how to interact with other cats.

2. Teaching Survival Skills:
Mother cats also use physical discipline to teach their kittens important survival skills. By using gentle force, they simulate hunting and self-defense techniques, helping the kittens learn how to protect themselves in the wild.

3. Correcting Inappropriate Behavior:
Kittens are naturally curious and playful, but they can sometimes engage in behavior that is inappropriate or potentially dangerous. Mother cats use physical discipline to correct such behavior and ensure the safety of their kittens.

4. Encouraging Independence:
As kittens grow, mother cats may hit them to encourage independence. By asserting dominance and encouraging self-reliance, they teach their kittens to explore and become more self-sufficient.

5. Establishing Hierarchy:
Mother cats establish a hierarchy within their litter. By hitting the kittens, they establish themselves as the leader and teach the kittens to respect their authority. This helps maintain order and stability within the group.

6. Setting Boundaries:
Hitting is a way for mother cats to set boundaries and protect their personal space. Just like humans, cats have their own comfort zones and personal boundaries. By hitting their kittens, mother cats teach them to respect those boundaries.

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7. Hormonal Changes:
Hormonal changes during the postpartum period can also influence a mother cat’s behavior. These changes, coupled with the stress of caring for her kittens, may occasionally cause the mother cat to display aggressive behaviors towards her offspring.


1. Should I intervene when a mother cat hits her kittens?
It is generally best to let the mother cat handle disciplinary actions unless it becomes excessive or harmful.

2. Will the mother cat continue to hit her kittens as they grow older?
As the kittens mature and learn boundaries, the mother cat’s need for physical discipline usually decreases.

3. Can hitting from the mother cat cause harm to the kittens?
Mother cats typically use light swats or gentle bites that do not cause harm to the kittens.

4. Is hitting a sign of a bad mother cat?
Hitting is a natural behavior for mother cats and does not necessarily indicate a bad mother.

5. Can I stop a mother cat from hitting her kittens?
While it is generally best to let the mother cat handle discipline, you can provide a safe and secure environment to reduce stress.

6. Should I separate the kittens if the mother cat hits them excessively?
If the mother cat’s behavior becomes excessive or harmful, it may be necessary to separate the kittens temporarily for their safety.

7. Will the kittens learn to hit other cats if they observe their mother doing so?
Kittens typically learn appropriate behavior from their mother, so observing her hitting may influence their behavior towards other cats. However, proper socialization can help mitigate any negative effects.

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In conclusion, while it may seem alarming, hitting is a natural behavior for mother cats. It serves various purposes, such as establishing discipline, teaching survival skills, and setting boundaries. It is important to understand that this behavior is part of a mother cat’s instinctual nurturing process.