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Could You Kill Your Cats Kittens?

Updated on March 15, 2011

How Could Anyone Kill A Kitten?

The Boston Strangler, Jeffrey Dahmer and the Columbine High School killers are known to have been cruel towards animals prior to committing the murders we now know them for. We like to think that this trait is unique to people like them. The fact is, humans have always been cruel to animals, even those we would have considered ‘normal’.

For many, the image of gorgeous little kittens nestling in a warm basket is enough to make our hearts fuzzy, but not so long ago; it was common practice to drown them without giving it a second thought. Drowning as a means of disposal was not the only method used; many kittens were gassed or poisoned and some would have their necks wrung.

The Egyptians Loved Cats

Throughout history, there have always been organisations actively seeking to protect cats from this type of abuse. Organisations that have made it their business to make acts of cruelty, such as the culling of kittens, illegal. Anyone caught killing kittens in ancient Egypt would have been put to death. However, hefty fines and a criminal record are the normal punishments of today.

It’s hard to imagine how the drowning of kittens was once seen as a necessary domestic chore. People feared that a new litter could mark the start of a cat infestation, bringing with them other nasty things such as fleas, ticks and worms. The quickest, easiest way for people to keep the numbers low was simply to kill them off before they had the chance to breed any further.

Cat Food! It's Not Cheap!

Of course, things are not much different now. When our cats return to us with a belly full of kittens, we rightfully worry about how we will cope. If the litter is a large one, it could see our weekly cat food bill spiral upwards in a short space of time.

An average selection of kitten pouches can cost in the region of five pounds, this may seem reasonable; however, whereas a grown cat can be fed just once a day, kittens require more frequent meals.

A female cat can have up to eight kittens in a single litter, with the average being two to five. A healthy cat can have as many as five litters a year and if our little familiar has made a special friend in the neighbourhood, it could turn out to be an awful lot of kittens to feed.

But We Do Love Our Animals Now

Slowly over the years, the minds of the masses began to realise that killing kittens is not the best way to deal with an unwanted litter. Particularly these days, not only will the fines and criminal charges work out more than the cost of food, but the guilt we have been trained to feel would lie heavily on us. Kitten culling It is not the type of thing that someone could confess to their friends, they would probably be outcast and their cruel act labelled as a precursor to more disturbing things to come.

Today, we recognise cruelty to animals as a sign of a lack of empathy. In our quest to discover why people murder others, it has become common knowledge that most serial killers started out by killing animals before moving on to humans. This, along with the fact that many people rarely make the connection between live animals in a field and the meat on their plates, may be one reason why our modern outlook on acts such as the drowning of kittens has changed so much.

Not to mention that half of Brits feel that the loss of a family pet is equal to losing a grandparent. And the way we all reacted to the woman who dropped her neighbours’ cat in a wheelie bin, should give us an idea of the public’s opinion on this issue.

Popular animal rights movements such as the ones against the fur trade in the 80’s and 90’s, resulted in the circulation of graphic images combined with slogans designed to pull on heart strings. This bombardment of consciences set the tone for a generation of people – us – who  grew up being told that killing animals is wrong. This gave our kitten killing habits a kick to the extent that most people today would not consider it an option. 

People Often Panic And Don't Know What To Do

Sadly, though many people will resort to simply abandoning their kittens in the hope that they will somehow survive in the wild. But unfortunately, most do not survive. Up to 5000 cats are abandoned in the UK every year, with the figures continually on the rise. When kittens are separated from their mother, the likelihood of them surviving alone is slim.

Most ordinary pet owners want to do the right thing; they do not want to kill or abandon their pets but want them to find new, loving homes. Yet it is sad to think that many end up being slaughtered simply because they cannot be rehomed and the shelters do not have the means to keep them indefinitely.

At the other end of the spectrum, cases are on the rise where owners, usually lone women, have somehow amassed a houseful of cats either by taking in feral cats off the street or by allowing the breeding to get out of control. In December last year, one woman was found to have 240 cats living in her house of squalor and another had 37 cats all sharing her one-room studio flat.

The biggest question one might ask is, why not just give the kittens away? While it may be easier to give away male kittens, if a person is stuck with a litter of five females, he may find it difficult to even give them away. Unless a lone cat lady can be found locally.

There is another aspect to consider when giving kittens away, which is who are we giving them to? We should try to vet anyone who claims to be a cat lover when they could quite easily be collecting cats to sell on for a profit, they probably wouldn’t have the kittens best interests at heart.

But generally, if we find ourselves lumbered with a few little cuddly fur balls in need of food and hugs, then it’s best to remember three things: Firstly, the kittens will need to remain with their mother for at least six to eight weeks. Secondly, it is probably not a good idea to keep them all (referring back to the lone cat lady scenario), and lastly, we mustn’t kill them! Because, we just don’t do that kind of thing anymore… Unless you’re a serial killer in the making.


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    • gail641 profile image

      Gail Louise Stevenson 5 years ago from Mason City

      I could never kill kittens--that would be horrible and bad. I have two grown cats that are really nice cats. Kittens are so tiny and precious. They're really vunerable in a frightening world where serial killers are on the loose committing unspeakable crimes against animals and humans.

    • profile image

      Lioness/DogsRgreat 5 years ago

      I read your Hub with a thought: People care this much about killing unwanted kittens, yet they kill millions of unborn human babies.

      I LOVE animals. Really, I do. But, If I had a litter of kittens/puppies that were unwanted, I would kill them (In the humanest way possible). The best option, of course, is to spay and neuter your animals.

    • Theophanes profile image

      Theophanes 5 years ago from New England

      ...but we do still kill cats. There are too many to go around. Cats that end up as ferals or in shelters too long are killed routinely. Just because the method has changed and we "put them to sleep" instead of drown them doesn't mean we're not killing them. We're just doing it a more socially sanctioned way - one that is distant and not part of our every day lives, something we can pretend doesn't really happen, you know like the fact we can buy and eat beef at the store without ever having to even see an actual real living cow. If you want to solve the problem you should suggest starting a program where spay and neuter surgeries are free and spread the word around. Most people who allow their cats to have kittens do so because they feel they can't afford to have the mama fixed or they misguidedly think neutering a male cat will change its personality. If your intention is to save lives just make sure they don't exist in the first place. PS "culling" does not always mean to kill - it means to remove an animal from the breeding population. If you own a spayed cat you own a cull....

    • FranyaBlue profile image

      Jacqueline 6 years ago from London, England

      Lucky Cats, thanks very much for reading my articles and leaving such lovely comments and, of course, for sharing.

      I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Franyablue..thank you so much for writing this excellent hub. We all need to read this! You have given history, information, suggestions and emotion all in one fabulous effort. With heart and intelligence. If I were a teacher, I'd make this a "must read" for my students. Excellent! UP USEFUL and AWESOME and like on FB. Kathy aka Lucky Cats

    • Tankadin profile image

      Tankadin 6 years ago

      It is sad that there are people out there that would harm a helpless animal.