Non-human abortions

Have abortions ever been performed on any species other than humans? How common are they?

I believe some vets will give abortions to cats, IIRC. For instance, I knew a woman who ran a foster home for stray cats on her horse farm-she’d take cats in as soon as they were old enough, or big enough to be fixed, and sometimes, if they were pregnant, they’d terminate the pregnancy.

It’s common to spay a pregnant cat or dog, if the litter is unwanted and no further litters are ever going to be wanted.

I know of some diseases (such as brucellosis) that cause abortion in cattle and bison, but these are certainly not caused deliberately. I suppose they could be used as a sort of range-war weapon between cattlemen, but since wild animals can carry the disease (I’m thinking deer, elk), it’d be akin to any other use of biological weaponry.

Anyone know if there are there any animals that are able to abort pregnancies on their own?

As in, through deliberate action? I’ve never heard of such a thing.

But, rabbits will reabsorb a pregnancy if their living conditions are too crowded.

Yes, deliberately. I think that about the rabbits might count. Fascinating, can you provide a cite?

Well, I wouldn’t call this a peer-reviewed medical journal, but do see this page (written by a rabbit breeder):

“…Fetal resorption is nature’s way of controlling the rabbit population. Rabbits have the ability to reabsorb the soft tissue of an unborn fetus during periods of inadequate nutrition or stress. The retained fetus is seldom toxic to the doe but may leave her unable to conceive again. I have seen does conceive and pass the mummified fetus along with a live litter.”


One the cats who lives with my mom had to be spayed while pregnant. The vet said that he’s ordinarily reluctant to do so, but this particular cat had sexually matured before she had grown enough in size (which is why we didn’t realize to spay her earlier), and she probably wouldn’t have been able to survive giving birth. She did seem somewhat confused by it, though: After that point, she insisted on “mothering” the smallest cat in the house, despite that cat being four years her senior.