Kittens being killed...
We always like to keep cats around the farm to keep the mice population down. We usually start out with several cats and when it is all said and done, we only have a couple left. We get kittens from local families and start the process all over again. We recently got 4 kittens. Less than 12 hours later, we found one of them dead. I'm not sure if she had just died or if she had been killed by something. My husband dealt with the cat. About 3 days ago, one of the kittens disappeared. My daughter went into the hay loft this evening to get hay for the horses and found the missing cat. It was dead, of course, and literally, her face had been ripped off. Nothing else on her had been touched. The third kitten had been beaten up several days prior but she hadn't been killed. Does anyone have any ideas as to what could be killing the kittens, mauling them, but not eating them?
We have a resident black snake that will get some of the kittens but he eats the entire cat. One of our adult cats is not fond of the kittens but has not showed any outright aggression and would be very unlikely to maul the kittens. If it is any help, we have horses and none of the horses have been injured/bothered in any way. Thanks for your help.
TamaraMOriginal Author17 years ago
We don't have any tom cats around. All our female cats are spayed and our one male is neutered. Tom cats come around until they find out all our females don't really care about them and then they move on. We never allow unspayed/unneutered animals around our farm.
I'm leaning towards raccoons. I'm going to set up a trap within the next few days and see what happens.
lucky_p17 years ago
Bet you catch a bad ol' feral tomcat.
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erinluchsinger17 years ago
Don't know what'd killing the poor kittens, but kudos on altering all the cats. We have the same policy. Leads to fat, happy and HEALTHY cats. And we're only down to 3 barn cats. I'm actually thinking of getting one or 2 more from a local shelter b/c 2 are VERY old and quite useless. Buffy (a male), is about like the one you have. Too fat to get out of his own way, and extremely lazy. He has to be at least 15 years old. And that's being nice.
But kudos. I wish more people had the same philosophy as you (and me) on altered barn cats.
daylilyfan17 years ago
Best way I have found to tell if it's a coon getting into cat food is to put a clean bowl with water in it near the food. In the morning, if the water is dirty, you've got a coon.
Won't tell you what's getting your kittens, but you'll be able to tell if you have a coon coming round.
basilmom17 years ago
daylily...I have a bunch of cats that are part coon then! I've see many of them put their paws in the water just like a coon. I have to change the water frequently and their little paws are wet half the time from "cupping" the water. Unless I have a strange clan of kitties, I'm not sure thats entirely reliable!
Tomato_Worm5917 years ago
It could be either raccoons or a tom cat. Usually, a tom will just kill them and lave them on the spot. I suspect another kind of predator, such as the raccoon unless the kittens were roaming around and caught randomly by the tom.
Sterling, I have, too, experienced a tom caring for HIS own kittens although the babies are generally disregarded. The reason a tom cat kills kittens is the same reason a wild cat of any kind will do the same thing. If a tom mates with a female cat just back into cycle or at least courts her, he will destroy whatever babies she has. This is instinct in order to wipe out some other's offspring and bring on his own. This is why not all toms kill kittens.
brendan_of_bonsai17 years ago
Wouldnt a coon have eaten them? Could it be a teenager in a cult? Also, do you provide alternate food or do you just let the adult cats eat mice, you may find one cat eating just mice more effective than 4-5 eating food and mice.
Severina17 years ago
Brendan. Please do not suggest that she not feed her cats. That is just wrong. I have a cat and he eats his cat food like a piglet and still manages to kill everything in sight. What you are suggesting is just abusive.
erinluchsinger17 years ago
We've definately found that barn cats that are fed food, as well as all teh mice they can hunt, are much better micers than cats that aren't fed cat food. i think it gives them a bit of an energy boost!
Turtle_Haven_Farm17 years ago
Yes, I have a male neutered house cat, eats like a pig, he lives to destroy rodents. - Ellen
TamaraMOriginal Author17 years ago
Thanks for all your replies. We will put the trap up and see what we catch.
As far as only having one cat and not feeding it, a well fed cat will hunt. However, a cat you don't feed and expect to hunt for sustenance, will go elsewhere. We have food in several places on our property for our cats. They hunt just fine.
ceresone17 years ago
we have several neighbors--in the country no less, that like to feed racoons on their deck, peanut butter, cookies, etc.can you imagine what a nuisance that causes? they even tear into my bluebird houses!! my 3 cats are nuetered, fat and lazy, and snoopy, the fattest one, still loves to "play" a mouse to death--sometimes she lets them get away,--perhaps to play another day?
ruthieg__tx17 years ago
Racoons are the bane of most people who have small pets or especially small fowl...My suggestion is to set live traps for your coons and then let him die of lead poisoning...
Enid17 years ago
Some years ago I was having problems with missing/dead kittens and young (teen) cats. Turned out it was owls. Owls (apparently) cant tell the difference between a cat and a rabbit, but that didnt stop them from killing kittens. A neighbor actually saw an owl hit at dusk and carry off a kitten, then found an adult cat badly cut (adult cats will fight back). Also, consider foxes, that was another cat predator we had around, never thought a fox would hunt cat, but mamma foxes will get whatever meat is available. Not fun have a cat come to eat with half the tail missing, then finding the same cat 2 days later half eaten in the shrubs. Lots of wild critters will take cats and kittens are too easy. Took a big dog to get rid of the fox (chase her off) and growing more trees to over the years has resolved the owl issue. On the other hand I have seen racoon and possums eating out of the same bowl of dry cat food as the cats. If you have large rats in the barn consider them as probable culprits, I have seen what rats can do; not pretty.
Tomato_Worm5917 years ago
I've seen great horned owls kill smaller but adult cats. cats are as active by night as are the owls. No, they did not mistake it for a rabbit. They just see it as a prey animal and grab it. GHO's are also one of the very few natural enemies of the common skunk and owls seem to rather relish them!
finchelover17 years ago
My mother-in-law told me that the tomcats will kill another male kitten[wants no competition i guess] We get coons and 'possum in our barns but I don't think they kill the kittens.
Ann_Vole17 years ago
Just now my parrents have two skunks killing their kittens on the steps of the house. They seem to be un-afraid of humans and are killing one then leaving with it and coming back right away for another! This is surprising to me that skunks would hunt live animals bigger then mice and that two skunks would hunt together (they should be solitary). My parrents have lots of big nutered male cats that will bring down jackrabbits but they must know about skunks and left.
garner_simmons17 years ago
We have something that seems to decapitate kittens, could be a raccoon or cat or some other wild animal. Is there a creature that is known to do this? Other than simply kill? Thanks.
GennyM17 years ago
I wonder if maybe a neighbor's dog is killing your kittens?
marcopoloshirt15 years ago
I would bet 99% of the time it is raccoons. Especially if they're hungry, they'll kill anything and eat it.
dirtslinger215 years ago
Sounds like you're letting the kittens out before they can take care of themselves. While maybe extreme for barn cats, I kept mine in for nearly 6 months, long enough to get some weight on her and she's done very well, also spayed.
laturcotte115 years ago
Get a dog raise him with the cats, problem solved. the dog becomes very protective of "his family" and will chase away everything else. Most farms have dogs for security.
thinknpink15 years ago
I'm willing to bet 99% its a dog. I have the exact same problem. I have had to pick up so many dead cats and kittens in the morming and vomit while doing so. I see the tracts in the bare dirt. Its a dog! We saw our lovley neighbors dogs many times over at my place attacking my animals.After a $11,000 fence just in the front to keep them out .. we still have dead kittens.. they come in the back way.I love animals , but dogs killing my animals will be shot!
mersiepoo15 years ago
Could also be a big rat, I had a big rat kill a bunch of my guinea's, it ripped a large hole in the mesh and ate one, ripped the heads off of some other ones. I got there in time to see it take off and go under the chicken coop, it was NOT a raccoon.
PS: It's good to neuter/spay your cats, although i don't think cats should run around outside because many of them kill songbirds. People shouldn't let their dogs roam around free either.
We have TONS of feral cats thanks to irresponsible neighbors. It's not fair to the cats or the wildlife. The cat population around here is getting WAY out of hand.
thinknpink15 years ago
I agree about feral cats,and after living in the country you find two barn cats..get them fixed and feed them,then people drop off cats, they find their way to your place..your feeding more cats.they have kittens. You tame some..you fix those. $60 per cat .. You have it under control..Enter the dogs that kill $60 cats. Who is the dumb person? ME!
carmen_grower_200715 years ago
I would say the biggest killer of feral cats are coyotes. Cats are coyote food ---- everybody has to eat. We had a litter of kittens born in one of the chicken houses. Don't know what happened to the mom, but we raised them, took them to have them neutered/spayed and started with 5 and now have two.
Sort of wish the coyote had gotten them before we paid the money to have them fixed but the two we have left (2 years later) are just plain wonderful additions to our farm. I think they are pretty 'street smart' now and won't let those coyotes get them!
t_bred15 years ago
Generally coyotes will consume most of what they kill. Tom cats will kill kittens born to a mother they have mated with before so she will go back into heat sooner without delaying it by nursing kittens. Racoons are not necessarily seen as a predator by cats as they are slow moving and non-threatening unless confronted a curious kitten would be a sitting duck.
Carmen is correct, cats are a staple for coyotes. I feed and care for quite a few ferals and fortunately we live in a very wooded area-all my cats are great climbers!!
msbeekeeper15 years ago
Out where I live in Alberta I have had owls take some of my cats. Saw one swooping down at one as it was sitting on the front step with the dog who chased it away by jumping at it.These are Great Horned Owls .
vancleaveterry15 years ago
My understanding is that tom-cats somehow know if kittens are theirs or not. If their own, they will treat the kittens sweetly. If not their own, they kill them so that the mother will come into heat sooner.
The "dog tracks" you see might be coyote tracks. VERY few people can tell the difference.
drizler15 years ago
Fisher, a distant relative to the wolverine with a similar attitude. You won't see them just that they are around. First you see no more squirrels and rabbits then its your cats and anything else small in the area. They happily come into your yard have no real fear of man and roam large areas like a wolf. They are abundant all over the last 15 years or so even though most people don't even know they exist. They will come right onto your porch to kill a cat and have even come into houses. They were the subject of a big article in the old farmers almanac a couple years ago. Its title was "your cats worst nightmare". Anyways they are about the size of a big cat and look just like a big ferret. Females are brown and big cat size males black and larger. They live in hollow trees and under stumps and roam large areas. We had one kill all 5 of our cats before I even knew what was doing it. I finally nailed her with a kill trap next spring with great celebration using a 220 kill trap on a pole set. They will kill small dogs as well. A guy I know had his poodle gnawed up by one so bad they had to put it down. Nearly tore the dogs leg off. They are referred to as the fastest animal in the trees in North America. They easily run down squirrels and kill porcupines easily by getting above them and grabbing them by the face. Friendly neighbors eh? As I said easy to catch though. Set a pole on a 45 degree slant up into a tree. Take a havahart trap if its near other pets and nail it to the pole with the bait way up inside. For gods sake if you catch one don't give it a ride, kill the damned thing. Out in the boonies away from cats and such nail a nasty chicken chunk the smellier the better up above it. Nail it very lightly so it will snap out and so the fisher has to walk through the x to get to the meat. They are not smart and will walk right into it. Just be careful where you put those traps so the live trap is better. That article in Farmers alminac tells all the gruesome habits I mentioned here and more, its a good read. If I remember right it was the cover article and had a cats face on the front of the almanac.
chokeecrisp_yahoo_com12 years ago
So sad! My kitten just had 4 kittens of her own, which one died within the first day i guess because either it was the runt or she accidentally smothered it. Now the other 3 have just disappeared and she's frantically roaming around looking for them. So after reading everything up above I suspect it was a racoon because those damned things are always up on my deck getting into the cat food anyway. Now how to explain it to my little 5 year old that was so excited about it all!
imjusthappytobehere11 years ago
I also have a problem with kittens being killed and partially eaten. I've been occasionally feeding a colony of feral cats that have taken up residency in an abandoned building. The building only has a small opening that a cat or simullar sized animal could get through. The first sign was an adult cat with its tail half missing, a cardboard box the cat was sleeping in had a v shaped bite mark taken out of it at the same time the cats tail got maimed up. Then when I tried to cut back on the cat food I was putting out, what ever was eating with them would simply (when the food was gone) kill a kitten and eat all but the fur and head of the kitten. I've seen opossums and raccoons leaving the building. I've never seen such behavior out of raccoons but I've seen very viscous behavior out of one of the opossums and the kitten killing and cat attacks seem to happen only on rainy nights. This would imply opossums but I don't know how to trap only the opossums to remove them without traumatizing the cats. Anyone know how this might be done.
Thanks in advance for your time and consideration.
ps So sorry for your loss Lucy.
cologoatlady11 years ago
Went out to my barn this morning and found three kittens dead with their back legs snapped off. No sign of their legs anywhere. Also noticed that their front paws had been maimed. Barn was closed up with only one entry just large enough for the kitten's mama to get in. Not sure what could have done this. We have had a raccoon in the garage (other barn cats hang out in there as well) but it has never bothered the other cats or kitten in there. Didn't appear to be a huge struggle in the barn but did notice that the cat food dish was empty. Any suggestions???
Guess I will be sleeping in the barn with my gun tonight.
trianglejohn11 years ago
imjusthappytobehere - use a non-meat bait in your trap and you'll get raccoons or opossums. 'Coons really like marshmallows. 'Possums will eat anything so they might be harder to pinpoint.
laelle7411 years ago
Hi! I live on a farm and just like you we always like to have a few cats around to keep the mouse population down. We make sure they are spayed or neutered, have a heat lamp in the winter, some cheap dry cat food, (And I am a little off topic here but I have to add that places that don't give the cats food thinking it will make them kill more mice, and wAnT to kill more mice is silly. All that happens is that you get sick cats that aren't capable of doing anything. As well we spay and neuter to avoid ending up with 20 cats that get diseased and are inbreeding.), and a heated water bowl.
The same thing started happening to us! And for us to keep replacing cats gets expensive quickly!!! Since they were kittens they were on our deck which is fairly enclosed. We put up a tall board at the entrance, got a kitty litter box and waited to see if that helped. We also had a couple of wild Toms in the area that came to eat on the deck.
Well, we waited, and watched, and waited, and wAiTeD! Sure enough a huge skunk came waddling up the steps with two younger ones in tow. She saw the board and scratched and clawed at it but it wouldn't move. She soon gave up and left. Not too many people know that skunks can't jump. Usually the best thing to do is put the food dish up higher, and they soon leave. I've also noticed that most cats seem to be fascinated with skunks and will follow them around. It's double trouble for the cat if the skunk is pregnant or has babies. Skunks will turn over food bowls as well as raccoons.
I hope this helped in some small way! Also I'm sorry if I went on about the way we treat our cats. I just hate to see any animal treated badly. This comment is not directed to the lovely lady asking the question. :)
It's rare but we have had a fox on the farm. Wherever a cat can go a fox can too.
pattypeterson220811 years ago
Did you ever find out what was killing your kitties?
pleisme8 years agolast modified: 8 years ago
I had 5 baby kittens in my house and when I went to feed them because there getting older prob 4-6 weeks old and found one had been ripped apart totally decapitated arms and legs torn off.. Not to mention I never found the torso... Weird... another was dead but not brutally ripped to pieces and another was dying. That left me with 2 .. Now today when I get home from work another one is dead! Not sure if it was injured when the others was killed..So I have one left and I'm scared because I don't know what's happening to them! Can someone pls make some sense of this? Totally confused!
aleighcat586 years agolast modified: 6 years ago
I was sitting here tonight with my windows open, paying bills, when I heard an awful commotion outside. It was one of my kittens and I could tell something was hurting it so I started yelling as I grabbed a flashlight and ran out the door. It was dark and all I could see was something cat-sized running into the field as my poor kitten lay dead on the driveway. We recently have had raccoon problems - a Mama and her babies - but I have also seen a possum on the deck tonight. Both are kitten predators, all that I know is one of them killed the kitten....who was 2 months old, so not tiny as a newborn. In the past, I have come across a possum eating newborns, they usually just eat the head and leave the rest. That possum met its maker that day. As will these raccoons and this possum. I really hate killing the raccoons, but it's to the point of them busting through my garage/breezeway window screens, and now if they're killing my kittens, they're done. You really have no idea how much I hate it, but I've done everything else I can think of -- trimming trees away from the house, removing anything they can climb on, and picking up the animal dishes immediately after they eat. I don't have time to try and trap/relocate them --- that just makes them someone else's problem and not fair to the other animals they would now have to compete for food with. BTW, I went outside with a bag to retrieve my kitten for burial, and it was *gone*, just that fast. That's why I'm thinking it was a raccoon, they're getting awfully brazen, and a possum usually just does its dirty work right then and there. If I don't do something, they will pick my kittens off one by one -- if they haven't already done so. I'm not having it, period.
Nancy Wartella6 years ago
I have an idea....why don't you STOP putting kittens in your barn??:
drizler6 years ago
I have had raccoons and cats in the same area for decades and never seen one do anything but run from a cat. Our cat is always chasing them off the porch. I would bet your critter that is killing them is more likely a Fisher. Think of it as a large ferret that roams the woods and will easily kill the biggest cat. Nasty disposition too and they aren't much afraid of people. Do yourself a favor and keep the kittens in the house if you can.
Claudia Ryall6 years ago
I have a question , what will eat 1-2 mth old kittens female kittens after they die? I know about the tomcat , no strange ones around that we have ever seen. The kitten is eaten from the shoulders down .these separate kittens were out running free , if it's a tom don't you think it would have happened before.we have had several skunks, none recent, they will turn food dishes over.We don't know if they are killed for food or if they died then were eaten . Last seen ,previous day.
Darla Duncan3 years agolast modified: 3 years ago
I'm trying to figure out what might have got my 4 month old kitten off my porch. You could tell by the hair and urine splatters that she was lying against the house behind a couple of chairs and a table. None of the furniture was moved or overturned. The porch has a roof so not open to the shy. Urine was smeared as she was dragged out from under the chair. It was in the night and have 3 inside dogs. Evidently a sound was never made or one of the dogs would have alerted us. No blood was found. Puzzling.
HU-5468414503 years ago
Concerning trapping raccoons and not cats: Use honey buns for the bait. No cats in the trap.
I heard unusual commotion out back. Cats chasing raccoon with last surviving kitten in her mouth. I threw my full water bottle at 'coon and kitten was dropped as the coon climbed wood fence. Started out with 2 litters, 7 kittens. This was the last survivor. Two died sickly at the vets and I did not know what happened to the others....until now. Surviving kitten is in travel cage for a trip to the vet. Not obviously injured but sickly. Poor mothering by a mother with her first litter.
I have let the raccoons live and raise their babies on my back deck!! I just dismantled their nesting spots and go out and chase them every 10-15 minutes. Problem is... I am in an old pier and beam house with access to go under. I will be digging out my live trap for later today.
Regarding the live release: I drive to the nearest lake, find area without nearby housing for release. Option of someone else trapping and eating perhaps.
Monique Rodriguez3 years ago
I have had on two separate occasions kitten parts left by my front door. The first time it was half of a body of a kitten and just this morning it was two paws and a snout would a male cat be killing these kittens. Or what could be killing them and leaving the parts at my door
Dave Long3 years ago
Why the hell would ANYONE just let kittens out alone unprotected. DUH! Babies are not left out alone... kittens are not capable of fending for themselves. I would think demonic little satan worshiping boys are doing things like this. Yes, raccoons are possible. They will eat anything smaller than them... but why would they leave parts? They would not. Heads being ripped off? Coons eat flesh, they don't leave satanic symbols. this is people doing this. Get a camera. Find out what is going on. Have them arrested. Period.
HU-3412289922 years ago
It amazes me that some people think it’s ok to have kittens outside and think they are not going to be eaten by something.You don’t put them outside until they are 5 or 6 months old but I get that some people need them around the farm for pest control I have 3 but I don’t let them outside because they are so damaging to song birds and wildlife and please spay and neuter.This is just common sense people!!
Nick Wilde2 years agolast modified: 2 years ago
I had a problem with raccoons on my old farm too. They'd eat my cats food then hurt my cats and chickens, I don't live on a farm anymore as we lost half our cats to the raccoons who my dad shot before we sold the house and I moved to town with my kids in my own house. I got a new cat, a house cat from a person on face book but I heard that a local farmer around here actually throws kittens outside and their dog kills them. Im so angry to tell you the truth that so many people are missinformed uneducated jerks when it comes to kittens and their kittens needs, kittens teeth are to small to defend themselves their claws are too small to do any damage a racoon is bigger than a kitten a chicken hawk is bigger than a kitten so is an owl,and these people don't care what kills their kittens im glad you posted this cause this is is a freaken common issue no kitten should be outside till there 1 and big enough to defend themselves i wish farmers would stop thinking about wild cats to keep mice populations down and start caring that their putting another creature in danger as well ,the cat is also a victim Please get adult farm cats, if you want cats stop getting kittens
Connie Bolainos7 months ago
Raccoons kill and eat kittens, do not leave kittens outside where raccoons can be found. A feral cat had 6 kittens and had brought them to my backyard. I just experienced a raccoon slashing a kitten's body in the middle of my yard and the kitten was still alive. It was the most horrible thing I have ever experienced. My husband took care of the kitten and had to kill him to put him out of his misery. I never wanted him to do anything to any wild animal but after hearing the agony which the kitten was in, I developed a hatred for raccoons, and now, I have allowed my husband to shoot raccoons in the backyard. The rest of the kittens are now safe inside my home till they are old enough to run or defend themselves.
It amazes me that people dont understand that stray cats have kittens. i highly doubt any of these people just throw baby kittens out to fend for themselves. we have a stray cat that we have made friendly, feed, give flea meds, and plenty pf attention when outdoors. she ended up having kittens, we had no idea where the kittens were. we have dogs that do not like cats so bringing them indoors wasnt an option even if we had found them nor wouldnt the feral mom have liked being in a cage for her safety. So the ”why would you” comments are very unecessary, it doesnt change any of the facts. you people clearly do nit live in the country.