do litter mates kill their siblings?

by elise
(geneva, ny)


I don't think there is an answer but i am very sad and am wondering if you have ideas about what could have happened to the little feral kitten I had been caring for.

She was the runt of 4 in a feral litter living by an abandoned house next to us. I had decided to feed them in order to TNR and/or socialize if possible. I've been watching them for about 3 weeks to be sure the kittens are ready to be ok without their mom. i fear trapping her without the kittens which could cause them to scatter and move on.

I put out food once a day, let them eat and then clear/clean the food area in order to not attract predators. I make my presence known so that they get used to's working. they are very curious and I can get closer.

As far as we can tell, from observing, the colony is comprised of the Mom, an adolescent cat that looks to be under 1 yr. old (we named her Scout because she is the one who checks out the food area before mom or kittens come out and she stands watch around the property.) and 4 kittens less the runt as of a couple of days ago.

The kittens are healthy and growing. they play, don't appear to have fleas, their coats are shiny and healthy. Mom did good!

I noticed that the kittens seem to be on their own for 2 days in a row more often. they stick together and stay put.

The runt was eating but i noticed that she had to try to push the others aside and she was hissed at. i think she may have been having a hard time getting food, but i witnessed her eating. she didn't seem to be growing though. she was about 1/2 the size of her litter mates at death but looked very healthy.

i found her in the middle of the driveway, by herself, in a heap, with flies landing and circling. she appeared to have been moved and left for me to find since she was in an area that was away from the nest and feeding area where they never go.

i went to pick her up and she went wild, hissing and growling and fighting me. i put her in a carrier to get her to settle down. once she was calm, i tried to get her trust and it worked. i picked her up and put her in our tub. i fed her by spoon feeding and used a dropper for water. she ate and drank a lot but she wasn't moving. i had to do it for her.

i figured she was dehydrated.

when i checked her later before going to bed, i petted her neck and discovered a large wound. that's when i realized there may be no hope of saving her.

the vet squeezed out a lot of puss and told me it was a bite that went right through her spinal area through to the other side. i had to put her down.

i can't figure it out. a predator or her mom/tom cat would have finshed her off. that would be the whole point of their attack. i wonder if one of her litter mates was playing rough or acting out hunting techniques.

it appears that the mom, knowing she was not going to live, moved her away and also put her in my path so i would find her.

do litter mates kill each other? i've had no luck with this question in the research i've done.

i know this is very long. thank you for making it this far. it as cathartic to share my story. i feel guilty because if i had trapped them earlier she might be alive. she was a doll!


I commend you for being so caring and helping these poor waifs. It is a shame you were unable to save her, but you did what you had to do.

I am not aware of litter mates attacking each other so what happened is anyone's guess. Unfortunately the outcome was a sad one.

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