A Mother Cat’s First Step with Newborn Kittens Can Seem Off-Putting

Cats clean their newborn kittens immediately upon birth then, um, dispose of them in an unpalatable way.

Why does my cat eat the covering from her newborn kitten?
–Prixy Judel Gel Aloja

Your cat is demonstrating the first sign of good motherhood. Like her wild ancestors, your cat is a clean and efficient creature, which is why she started caring for her young one immediately after he came into this world.

While consuming the covering that was the result of his birth is disgusting to think about, your cat did it for good reasons. Your kitten arrived encased in a fluid-filled sac. A good mother cat will break it (if it hasn’t broken on the way out) and lick the material off her kitten to encourage it to start breathing; grooming also stimulates blood circulation and helps mother and kitten begin bonding. She’ll clear his mouth and nose as well as his eyes.

Eliminating this material from the birthing area is also a litter-protection strategy. Predators that smell and/or see the proof of a vulnerable new family might seek out what they perceive as an easy meal. Congratulations on your new kitten! Of course, once momma has recovered from her new motherhood, she should take a trip to the vet to be spayed.

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