Is maternity an instinct?


Or maternity is God’s gift? And do animals have mater instinct? Thank you very much.


Yes, the maternal instinct exists within the animal kingdom.

Have you seen how mother hens and ducks and mother cats take care of their young?


What are referred to as maternal instincts, are indeed instinctual, and Woman shares many of them with the beasts.

Thus, because they come to us through nature, they are God’s gifts.


Yes, but it’s intensity varies among women, and the way it manifests differs according to culture, knowledge, belief and experience.

Not every woman goes gaga for babies.


Yes, not all women go gaga over babies. However, the maternal instinct does not necessarily translate or express itself as going crazy over babies.

It just means taking care of your babies in a way that ensures their well-being. How that gets expressed will be different for each individual woman.

Some women do not necessarily desire to be a mother. I am one of them.

If I were in a good marriage I would be open to life however as a single woman I never really desired to be a mother.


Most animals have an instinct to protect their young to ensure survival of their species. We do too. Men have an instinct too when it comes to their kids/family.

Maternity can be defined in all sorts of ways though. Depends on who you ask.


Before I had children, I really didn’t care at all about being a mother… never so much as entertained the idea. But I believe my maternal instincts kicked in with pregnancy (hormones?), then went to a new high with birthing. Now with two daughters and ten grandchildren, I couldn’t begin to imagine not being a mother all these years (and grandmother), I thank God every day for this blessing of motherhood. It’s just that my point was the fact that, like you, I never really desired to be a mom – until it happened.


I’ve had dogs and cats all my looooonng, life, and they absolutely instinctively teach their young how to hunt, to eat from a bowl, to clean themselves, use a litter box, and how to behave. They discipline their young when they misbehave. I’ve seen my mother cats SLAP their babies when they tire of their nonsense, and the babies immediately lay down. That all has to come from natural instinct.


That is why God made oxytocin.


I have rabbits who are very good at raising their own kits— but have absolutely no interest in raising the orphaned kits of another mama rabbit, even if you do everything “right” to get them to accept them. There are other mama rabbits who will play the foster-mother role with no problem, and will accept anything you put into their nest. And there are mama rabbits who won’t pull fur, won’t build a nest, will have their kits on the wire, and will just ignore them, even though they’re quite old enough to be mentally as well as physically there.

So there’s a lot of variety, even within the animal kingdom, and even within a single species.


and not just their own, but strays, and sometimes even those of other species.

There was a recent news article about a dog that accepted a handful of rescued ducklings, while dog/kitten and cat/pup are both quite common. (and they sometimes try to act like their adopters . . . I get a kick out of the cat that tries to wag it’s tail like a dog, and the puppy that growled inappropriately–he was trying to purr!).

It’'s generally more a paw straight down on top of the head—which is also useful from a person to an adult cat (not hard! just firmly!)

This is largely self-correcting–they are unlikely to have grand-kits . . . :scream::face_with_raised_eyebrow:



My Golden Retriever puppy learned the hard way that he couldn’t walk along the top of our 4 foot high fence like his cat sisters.


Animals generally have maternal instinct. But not in all circonstances.

  • Some female animals loose their maternal instinct because of the unatural birth of their puppies (c-section). They don’t recognized them and care for them.
  • Some female too don’t care of their offsprings. (for eg, a bird that push it babies outside the nest).
  • And finally the animals generally don’t carry of the puppy who will not survived because he is too weak.

For women, some thinkers believe that maternal instinct don’t exist because:

  • we are not animals
  • some women don’t like their children, abuse them or even kill them
  • some women will don’t care of some children born in bad circunstances, but will be very affectionated with others born when they want.
    They believe that maternal instinct is a social construction to normalized motherhood and reassure the society.

On maternity, I will said that it is the destinity of almost all women, so it is not a vocation. But some women are not made to be mothers (because of the circustances or a temperament). So it may be seen as a God’s gift.


oops . . .

My wife suspects that are dummest cat had a litter before she was rescued.

She used to carry small stuffed animals around by the scruff of their necks . . .



This topic was automatically closed 14 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit