How Many Kittens Can a Cat Have (The Truth)

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As cat parents, many of us tend to decide when and with whom to mate our female cats. Some cat parents let their female cats take care of their mating on their own, while others prefer to provide them with a specific male cat to do the job, in controlled circumstances.

Mating more than once would lead to pregnancy and the kittens that are to come depend on many fractures. Some cat parents believe that if their cat is big, it will give birth to many kittens at once, which is a wrong idea. The number of kittens that a cat can have depends mostly and generally on the cat’s breed, instead of the cat’s size. Your cat can give birth to two kittens, or to five or six kittens, depending on its breed.

Those kittens can be of different beautiful colors and types. How many kittens can a cat give birth to in one litter? How many times can a cat get pregnant during the year? Can a cat give birth to different breeds of kittens? And how many kittens can a cat have?

NOTE: We want to inform our blog readers that before we publish any article, the team “Proudcatowners” does deep research based on experience and knowledge about cats and everything related to them, to guarantees reliable and precise information, satisfy the readers is our first priority.

What does the term “queen” mean, when referring to female cats?

The term “Queen” is usually used in cat breeding context, to refer to an unsprayed female cat. A cat who is pregnant or nursing can also be referred to as a queen because of its aggressive and overprotective behavior in that period. As for male cats, we usually refer to them as “Tom” or tomcat.

What is the process of pregnancy like in cats?

Once your female cat goes into the heat cycle, it will mate with any tomcat available, cats are not selective when it comes to that. The pregnancy period would last nine weeks, which is approximately 63 to 65 days. Usually, if a female cat mate for the first time with a tomcat only once, it will not get pregnant, that would only lead to ovulation, until the second time it mates with a male cat. It could be the same cat from the first time or a different one.

The heating cycle would usually stop after mating and getting pregnant, however, there are times where the heating cycle will continue, and the female cat will mate with other tomcats while already being pregnant from the previous one.

How many kittens can a cat have?

This question cannot be answered directly and specifically, because it depends on the mother, the breed, and circumstances of both the pregnancy and the birth of the kittens. Usually, cats or queens (unsprayed cats) have 5 kittens in the litter on the normal average.

However, there are cases where a female cat can have up to 8 kittens on the average level, depending on the breed. In addition to that, if the cat is depressed or it has a malnourished and a stressful pregnancy, it can only give birth to 3 or 4 kittens at once, and it is not able to give birth to more than 4 kittens. Even if this new mother gives birth to 4 kittens, they usually do not all survive.

How many kittens does a female cat usually have within a year?

On average, female cats can produce up to 12 kittens per year, if they are not sprayed (queens). As the cat grows older, the number of kittens it gives birth to, and the size of a litter usually decreases.

Can a female cat give birth to more than one breed?

Female cat giving birth to more than one breed

It is not about giving birth to different breeds, but if you notice your cat gave birth to different kinds of kittens, each one of those cute little furballs may have a different father. If a female cat mate with other tomcats while being already pregnant, it would lead to the conception of other different fetuses. Mating during the period of pregnancy would lead to the birth of different kinds of kittens in one litter, and each kitten could possibly a have different father.

How do I know if my cat is pregnant?

If your cat is pregnant, the signs would usually show after 15 to 18 days of pregnancy. Since a cat’s pregnancy lasts for about nine weeks, the symptoms of pregnancy do not show during the first week or so. After the first few weeks, your cat will start to display some symptoms, here are some of the most common ones:

Your cat’s nipples get darker

This symptom starts to show after three weeks of pregnancy. After approximately 21 to 25, your cat’s nipples would start to get darker, in addition to being enlarged, this sign is known as “pinking up”. Another sign related to pinking up is small milky discharges. You might notice that your cat is discharging some milk from its nipples, even though the cat does not start to produce milk until after birth.

Morning sickness

You might have noticed a family member experience morning sickness, or you might have experienced it yourself, well, it is the same symptom in the case of cats. If your cat has occasional vomiting, you should keep an eye on her, if the vomiting continues and becomes frequent, and your cat does not seem okay, you should contact your vet to get your cat checked out.

Of course, just like humans, not all cats experience morning sickness, your cat might be a couple of weeks into her pregnancy with no signs of vomiting or any morning sickness. Therefore, you should pay attention to other signs.

Your cat’s belly will appear swollen

This symptom usually appears on the 30th day mark. After this day, your cat’s tummy will start to look rounded and swollen; this sign is not always easy to notice, however. If your cat is obese or overweight, noticing a rounded abdomen during a period of pregnancy can be a challenge. If you do spot this symptom, however, avoid touching, so you can avoid causing any pain or hurting the cat mother or it kittens, and contact a veterinarian for a clear diagnosis instead.

Note: there are other causes that could lead to the swollen abdomen. Therefore, do not assume anything on your own, or try to cure or ignore the symptom by yourself, always contact a vet for proper medical care.

A pregnant cat usually gains from 1 to 2 kg during the pregnancy period. The amount of weight it gains depends mostly on the number of kittens it is carrying.

Your cat will start to “nest”

Most pregnant cats begin their nesting period, usually when they have about two weeks left in their pregnancy period. Your pregnant cat will look for a quiet, comfortable, warm, and calm place, and it will arrange some blankets in it for preparation. The cat will try to set up the place to get ready for giving birth “kittening”, it would be as if it is setting up a “birthing area”.

Other signs that your cat might show during this period are extreme affection towards you, it would seek more attention from you, it would show more frequent purring, and more maternal instinct. And while your cat is very lovable and warm towards you, it would become intolerant and annoyed by other pets you have, or by other animals.

In addition to behavioral changes in your cat, it will also start eating more than usual, especially in the last couple of weeks of the pregnancy period. It usually needs about 25 % more food quantity than the amount it is used to having.

Getting your cat checked by an Ultrasound

Of course, after considering all the symptoms mentioned above, the absolute and reassuring way to find out if your cat is pregnant is by making a vet appointment and making your cat get an ultrasound. A cat’s pregnancy can be diagnosed by either an ultrasound or an X-ray test.

However, an ultrasound test is better because it diagnoses the pregnancy and shows the kittens early, with only 21 days into their conception, while an X-ray does not show the kittens until their skeleton is formed and starts to show, which does not happen until 40 to 45 into pregnancy. Having an early ultrasound would also help you find out how many kittens your cat is expecting.

How soon can my cat mate again after recently giving birth?

The cat’s estrus cycle

A cat’s estrus cycle, also known as the heat cycle, first starts when the cat reaches puberty. Each cycle has different stages, and estrus is referred to the stage in which the female cat is sexually receptive, also referred to as “cat in heat”. This cycle can differ from one to another, especially with indoor and outdoor cats.

In the case of indoor cats, they are subject to artificial indoor light all day long, which means that in most cases, they can go into heat at any time. An estrus cycle of a female cat can last approximately 10 to 15 days. This cycle can happen every two weeks, and therefore, cats can get pregnant at any time of the year.

Why is it important to spray my female cat?

If your cat has already given birth several times, it is better to have your cat sprayed, because a female’s heat cycle can occur very shortly after it gives birth. It is also important to neuter cats because they become sexually mature at the age of 4 months old, and they can mate with their mates in the litter, and it can get very dangerous for a cat to be pregnant at 4 months old.

Myth or Fact: Female cats do not mate and do not get pregnant while they are still nursing their kittens.

This information is, unfortunately, not correct. If your cat mates after its estrus cycle occur again in two or three weeks, there is a high possibility that your cat might get pregnant again during the first week of her post-birth period.

Can cats have miscarriages?

Yes, just like in humans, cats can also be subject to unfortunate spontaneous abortions, pregnancy loss, and better known as a miscarriage.

The most common reason for this unfortunate incident is the death of the fetal. Fetal death is the death of the fetus either due to hormonal imbalance in the mother cat, or it can also be related to the fetus’s genetic disorder. This can cause a miscarriage or a stillborn kitten.

Another possible reason for miscarriage in cats is mycotic abortion, which is a fungus that occurs in cats during the pregnancy period, caused by excessive bleeding in the cat’s uterus. This uncontrollable bleeding will lead to the abortion of the fetus.

The third reason which can cause miscarriage in cats is a parasite called Neospora Caninum. This parasite is found in both cats and dogs, but it is most commonly found in dogs. Neospora Caninum can be picked up by cats when they consume food or water that has been contaminated by a dog who has this parasite already.

Miscarriages in cats can also be caused by several viral feline infections such as feline leukemia virus, panleukopenia, feline herpesvirus, or feline immunodeficiency virus.

If your cat suffers a miscarriage, you must take care of it because it will go through a very delicate phase. This post-miscarriage period will include a lot of discomforts, vaginal and/or abdominal bleeding, and it could lead to a more serious medical condition if it is not well taken care of.

How can I know if my cat has had a miscarriage?

Miscarriages do not have visible symptoms that you can notice clearly by plain sight. Post miscarriage symptoms, however, include vaginal bleeding for example, if you notice that your cat is not feeling well, or you see abnormal discharges from your cat, you should take it to the veterinarian immediately. Usually, your vet would run a blood test on your cat to diagnose the case clearly.

Can cats give birth to kittens of the same litter on separate days?

Yes, that is possible to happen in the giving birth process. Timing plays a major role in this process. If your cat goes into labor and then starts to enter the birthing phase at 7 p.m., for example, this would allow it to give birth to kittens on two different days because the process can continue overnight, onto the next day.

Labor can take a short period of time when the cat starts licking her abdomen and vaginal area, or it can take up to 12 hours sometimes, as for the birthing process, it can last about 6 hours or more. Each kitten will come 30 to 40 minutes after the other.

How often do cats lose kittens when giving birth?

In the breeding process, it is commonly perceived that a low level of kitten loss should be expected. A study has shown that pedigree cats have higher kitten loss percentage than non-pedigree cats. In the case of pedigree cats, around 7% of kittens are stillborn, which means, they die at birth, and another 9 % of the remaining kittens died within the first eight weeks after their birth, especially during the first, second, and third week.

The same study has also shown that the kittens which survived after 8 weeks were of 85% of different breeds (which means they had different fathers), and the highest death toll among these kittens was the kittens of the Persian breed.

The highest death rate of kittens is usually during the first week. The kittens who survive past the first few weeks of birth have lower risks of dying since the death rate decreases remarkably after the first week. Newborn kittens usually receive natural protection from their mother within the first few weeks of their birth, and it is called maternally derived immunity.

And the kittens who die within that period, from birth till a few weeks later, are called fading kittens since they fade slowly during those first few weeks of their birth.

Several reasons could lead to the fading, or sudden death of newly born kittens. Here is a brief list of the most common ones:

  • Hypothermia (kittens sometimes find it challenging to adapt to the room temperature)
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Dehydration
  • Low birth weight
  • Physical defect (it is present from birth, and it can either be inherited or developmental)
  • Inappropriate environment
  • Inappropriate nutrition
  • Infections

There are other reasons for fading kittens related to the queen (their mother), some of which are:

  • Lack of oxygen, which also known as hypoxia
  • Hypothermia
  • Trauma
  • Dystocia
  • Lack of experience in case it is the queen’s first litter
  • Maternal neglect
  • Maternal obesity
  • Lack of milk
  • Mastitis

Truth or myth: Cats eat their kittens

Before you get surprised, yes they do, and it is because of maternal instinct, out of protection. A mother cat tends to eat her babies in case she senses they are in danger, or they are threatened by other predators. Some cats would eat only one kitten, while others might eat all of the kittens in the litter.

Many people and scientists may consider this act to be barbaric and wonder how could a mother eat her own babies, but if we look at the reasons why she does so, it becomes more understandable. There are five main reasons why a cat would eat her kittens:

  • The kitten (s) is born with a physical defect
  • The kitten (s) suffers malnutrition
  • The kitten (s) is a stillborn
  • The kitten (s) is threatened by a predator, for example.
  • Mercy

Do mothers get depressed when their kittens are taken away?

Depressed cat mother

Your cat can get depressed if you take away its kittens. When kittens first start to leave the litter and stray away from their mom, you will notice the queens a little upset at first, that could last for a short while, or a longer one, depending on the cat. If you take them away from her, you could notice the cat searching or meowing hoping to get a response from them, at times, she might even spend hours crying over them.

Do cats recognize their kittens if they come back?

Unlike humans, the bond between a cat and her kittens is related to a unique scent that they share in the litter. If the kittens leave the litter, that scent will slowly fade away from them, and their mother would not recognize them after that. The same thing applies for cat siblings, even though they share the same litter and grow together if they get separated, and that unique scent they share fades away, they will consider each other as strangers the next time they meet.

Can cats get pregnant form other animals?

cats getting pregnant from other animals

Yes, female cats can get pregnant from other animals, the most common hybrid combination is between a cat and a raccoon.


Cats are widespread pets worldwide, and their population is constantly increasing. Cats reach their sexual maturity at the age of 4 months old, and they can get pregnant at that age, which could be dangerous. Female cats, or queens, go into a heat cycle, and they start mating with tomcats, they are not selective when it comes to choosing a mating partner.

Cats can mate multiple times, even if they are already pregnant, which is the reason why we could find different types of kittens in one litter, each kitten could be from a different father. Just like humans, female cats can experience miscarriages due to many reasons, and it could be very dangerous and cause severe medical conditions if it is not taken care of properly.

In addition to that, female cats eat their kittens sometimes, out of maternal instinct, especially if they feel that a predator threatens their kittens. Cats usually have 7 to 8 kitten per litter on the average, some have up to 12 kittens, while others could have only 3 or 4 kittens. The death rate of kittens in a litter is highly expected, and it usually occurs during the first few weeks of kittens birth, they are called fading kittens, some kittens die at birth, which is called stillborns.

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