Fun Animal Facts

Why Do Animals Reject Their Babies? Everything You Need To Know!

by Rob Byron

Mothers have an enormous role in the survival of their offspring. They are the ones that feed their babies through breastfeeding while their babies have no teeth yet. In the animal kingdom, female animals are solely responsible for the survival of their offspring. Female animals need to make sure that their babies will grow strong to keep their lineage alive in the future. 

However, not all mothers are the same. Some mothers will reject their babies and sometimes will kill their babies. It may be absurd, but this is purely natural. There are reasons why animals abandon their babies. What are the reasons why animals reject their babies? Here is the answer:

Why do animals reject their babies? Animals will reject their babies that are sick or weak because they know that their offspring will never survive in the coming days. New mothers that are inexperienced will also reject their babies because they have no idea how to take care of a baby.

That answer is short, and I have a broad version of it below! 

Today, we will talk about the different reasons why animals reject their babies. We will also take a look at the answers to various questions related to our topic. Now, if you are ready to learn new things about animals and their babies, let us keep moving! 

3 Reasons Why Animals Reject Their Babies

These reasons may apply to all animals, including your cats and dogs. However, to be honest with you, animals rejecting their babies are quite rare. 

Almost all female animals are affectionate towards their offspring, and only a few female animals don’t know how to take care of their babies because most of them know it through their instincts. Every mother animal has the instincts to take care of their young, which is why this case is quite rare. 

However, it is still essential to learn the different reasons why animals reject their babies. Let me tell you again that these reasons may apply to your cats and dogs.

It is essential to know the reasons why animals reject their babies so that once your cats and dogs abandon their babies, you already know what causes it and the possible fixes that you can apply. 

If you are ready, let us check the different reasons why animals reject their babies!

The Baby Is Too Weak Or Sick

The first reason why animals reject their babies is that their babies are too weak to survive or because of sickness. 

If one of their babies is born blind or has a limb that is not working, mothers will start to think that it will not survive in the coming years. They will abandon it and sometimes kill it because they don’t want to waste their milk on an offspring that most likely will not survive in the future because of its disorders. 

Animals will also reject their babies because they think it is too weak to survive in the wild. Even though their baby has complete and working body parts, animals will still reject it if they find out that it is weak.

I really don’t know what the basis of animals is to recognize if their offspring is weak or not because I am not an animal. 

It may sound pitiful and absurd. However, this is how nature works. It is survival of the fittest! The reason why animals are already evaluated by their mothers while they are young if they can survive or not is because mother animals instinctively know how hard it is to compete in the wild. If an offspring is weak or has a deficiency, that offspring is better off dead. 

The Mother Animal Have No Idea How To Take Care Of Her Babies

The second reason why animals reject their babies is that they have no idea how to take care of their offspring. 

It may happen to your cats and dogs as well. Inexperienced mothers tend to reject their offspring because they don’t know how to take care of their baby. It often happens to female animals that were raised by people away from their species. 

I saw this happen to my neighbor’s female dog. The female dog of my neighbor was kept away from her mother while she was only three months old. This female dog gave birth to a baby years after, and she seems to reject her puppies. Sadly, the puppies died after one month of suffering.

Animals learn everything from animals that are older than them. If people take an animal away from their group or herd at an early stage, they will not learn basic survival and parenting skills. 

The Mother Animal Is Weak To Take Care Of Her Babies

The other reason why animals reject their babies is that they are too weak to take care of their babies. 

Mother animals can get injured and sick in the wild. There are lots of predators in the wild, and the chance of surviving is nearly impossible. 

If the mother has a severe injury while giving birth to her offspring, she will most likely reject her offspring after her offspring got out into the world. Or if the mother got a severe virus after giving birth, she will most likely reject her babies too since there is no point to take care of the babies if she will die very soon. 

Does Your Pet Will Reject Their Babies Too?

Yes! Your pet dogs or cats can reject their babies too. Your dogs and cats will abandon their babies for many reasons such as they are an inexperienced mother or their babies are weak to survive. Your pet is an animal too, therefore they have the same animal instincts as their cousins from the wild.  

However, this only happens rarely. In my personal experience, I haven’t seen any female dogs and cats that abandon their babies. I had several pets, and none of them showed a distant and cold attitude towards their offspring. 

Do Animals Reject Their Babies If Humans Touch Them?

This question is the usual question of pet owners that have a pregnant dog or cat. Because baby animals are so cute, they are tempted to touch it immediately after it is born. However, is it true that animals reject their babies if humans laid hands on them? Here is the answer:

It is a myth! So the answer is no. 

Some people say that animals will abandon their babies if humans touch them because they can smell the scent of the human on their babies. Never believe this myth! 

There are baby animals that have been handled by biologists that are usually reunited with their mothers. The female animals are not bothered by the scent of the biologists implanted on their young ones. 

Why Do Animals Eat Their Babies?

Some mothers will not only reject their babies but eat them as well. Yes, this may sound absurd again, but this is how nature works in real life. So, what is the reason for animals to eat their babies?

Why do animals eat their babies? Animal parents that live in the wild have limited resources to give to their offspring. If their babies are sick or weak, the mother will eat her babies to gain some calories to raise her other babies that have no sickness and are not weak. 

Some animal species do this kind of act. Animals like hamsters, pigs, snakes, birds, primates, and bugs tend to eat their babies or the other babies in their group. If the parent eats their own offspring, it is called filial cannibalism. If an animal kills and eats a young animal that is not his/her offspring, it is called filial infanticide. 

When a female animal gives birth, she needs lots of energy and nutrition to nurse and feed her babies properly. So if a mother lioness gives birth to four cubs and there is one cub that is weak, unhealthy, or deformed, she will most likely kill and eat it. 

It will give the mother more energy! It will also leave her with fewer cubs whom she can nurse and raise better. 

Another reason why animals eat their young ones is that they only want the fittest of their babies to live on and pass their healthy genes to future generations. To ensure that their genes will be passed to future generations, animals will kill their own offspring who do not mature fast or at a normal pace.

Why Do Male Animals Kill Their Babies?

Killing young animals by adult males is one of the most unpleasant and gruesome aspects of social life in some animal species. Cats, dogs, lions, tigers, and other male animals will execute this. 

The reason why male animals kill their babies is that they see their offspring as a competition for resources. However, aside from that reason, there are other reasons why male animals kill their babies, and each animal has different reasons from each other. 

One example is the male lions. 

Lions will kill the cubs that are not theirs to prevent the genes of the other lions from other pride to carry on. Once the lioness finishes giving birth, they will wait for one month before they show their cubs to their pride.

When they arrive at the territory of their pride, the alpha lion will smell the cubs to know if it is his cubs. If not, he will kill and eat it. 

Final Verdict

The reasons why animals reject or abandon their babies are because the baby is too weak or sick to survive, the mother animal has no idea how to raise a baby, or the mother animal is too weak to raise her babies. It may seem gruesome and unfair, but we have nothing to do with it because that is how nature works. 


Rob Byron
Learning about and helping all kinds of animals has been in my blood as long as I can remember. I've been part of many different animal associations over the years so I decided to create this animal info blog with my family who are all involved with animal rescue in some capacity. Also, Because Animals Matter!
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