How Many Kittens Can a Cat Have?
Well, how curious are you to know about how many kittens a cat can have in a year? Have you ever thought about it?
Not an easy question, right?
The number of kittens that a cat can have depends on the breed you have. It also depends on the circumstances around the pregnancy and birth. Multiple factors may affect the number of kittens a cat can have in a litter.
Let’s briefly get into the cat’s reproductive life.
Female cats- “Queens” can get sexually mature from just the age of four months. If the queens are not spayed, they start to show estrous cycles or heat cycles.
The heat cycles repeat every two to three weeks until the cat becomes pregnant. The start of the estrous cycle simply refers to the time your cat is in its puberty and has gained full sexual maturity.
With the beginning of the heat cycles, cats start to show specific characteristics to attract the male. Activities like restlessness, calling and wailing, squirming, rubbing, and presenting the rear in attempts to attract a male is normal in the breeding seasons.
Such periods of reproductive activity last a few days and recur every few weeks during the breeding seasons. The breeding season usually runs from February until August.
During these estrous cycles, a female (queen) will be very attractive to an unneutered male. The queens liberate characteristic reproductive scent or pheromones which a male can detect from several miles away. The male will make a great effort to reach the queen.
Every heat cycle consists of several stages; each stage is called estrus which refers to when the queen is sexually receptive or in heat.
How Selective Are Queens?
Queens are not selective in their choice of mates, unlike other birds. They will accept advances made by any males around, even their relatives. That’s unsettling.
Allowing an unneutered female to spend time outdoors or indoors with an unneutered tom may risk her and any resulting kittens.
There’s a high risk of infectious and communicable cat diseases that unneutered roaming toms may carry.
The gestation period in cats lasts approximately. 63-65 days, i.e. around nine weeks.
The vets can diagnose the pregnancy by using abdominal palpation from three to four weeks of conception. Ultrasound is also an option.
The teats enlarge and get pinkish around three to four weeks of pregnancy. You can see a change in the behavior of your cat in the last week of pregnancy. It starts searching for a suitable place to give birth.
How Many Kittens Can a Cat Have?
We cannot always predict the exact number of kittens a cat can have. They have an average of four to eight kittens per litter.
Sometimes the cat may give birth to just a single kitten while it may be over ten in other times. Various factors control the number of kittens a cat can have.
A record of 19 kittens in a litter has also been seen in 1970 where all fifteen were surviving male kittens and four were stillborn. A female cat is able to give birth to a litter of kittens at least twice a year.
The average lifespan of a cat is about 15 years. The queens can basically reproduce throughout their entire life. But considering the health of mama cat, it is recommended to spay the queen after the kittens arrive and when your vet approves if your cat’s ready.
This helps to extend the life of the cat and ultimately reduces the crowd of kittens in the house.
Why Are Kittens Born In The Same Litter Different?
Cats are polyestrous animals. This means they have multiple heat cycles during the breeding seasons.
They also show a wide range of promiscuity which means both the male and female cats mate with multiple individuals. If the heat cycle is not stopped after the first conception, the female may mate with other males too.
If mating occurs again during the pregnancy, new fetuses are being conceived and kittens with different fathers are born the same litter. They carry genes from different parents which make them unique with different patterns and coats.
Helping Your Pregnant Cat Give Birth
Behavioral changes are seen in the late stage of pregnancies of the queen. The queen may be in search of a suitable place to give birth that is safer for its babies.
The pregnant queens should be introduced to a quiet, clean, and warm area away from any other family disturbing them. They’re always in search of warm, cozy, confined surroundings.
So, you should prepare their home of desire free from any pests to reduce the chances of infections.
You should also provide them warm blankets and washable clean sheets and replace them as necessary.
The queen needs to eat more than usual, especially in the last three or four weeks of pregnancy. Helping your cat to regain its strength with a balanced diet is a great idea!
Kittens should also be fed regular meals. You need to ensure that your kittens are free from fleas.
Remember how your high school teacher always went on about hygiene? That’s because it’s important.
Hygiene is important for cats too- so make sure your cat lives in a clean place and doesn’t engage in things that could cause problems later.
You should seek a piece of advice from a vet before allowing your cat to breed again. It’s easy to forget to vaccinate your data- so you should mark your calendar for that.
It’s better to spay your cat for a long lifespan. If your cat is already pregnant, advice on its health, specific care, feeding and worming, and treating it for fleas should be discussed with the vet.