Excited Cats is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

How Many Kittens Are in a Litter? Facts & Health Explained

Over 42 million households have invited a cat into their lives. They bring so much joy into our lives that you may wonder if having more than one would be even better. The chances are that if you have a rescue kitty, they have already been spayed or neutered. This is a long-standing recommendation, given the number of abandoned pets in shelters.

However, the thinking in the veterinary science community is changing. Research has shown that some dog breeds have a heightened risk of certain cancers and joint conditions after the surgery. We also know that spaying or neutering your pet can lead to obesity if you don’t modify their diet. If you’re considering breeding your cat, it’s wise to consider both the benefits and risks before taking the next step.

cat face divider 2

Health Risks

It’s essential to understand that giving birth carries health risks for the female cat. The experience is physically draining up to and during labor. Complications during the pet’s pregnancy could endanger her life and those of the kittens. It’s a myth to believe that it’s necessary for a cat to have a litter before spaying.

Commitment to Having Kittens

It’s imperative to realize that your cat having kittens means it’s going to be a commitment for you too. You must ensure that your cat is in good health before and after she becomes pregnant. That will include follow-up vet visits to monitor her condition. All of that costs money.

You must also prepare an area for your cat to have the kittens and to raise them until you find homes for them. Of course, your job doesn’t stop there. You must keep the space clean. You will also have to deworm the kittens and get vaccinations as per your vet’s recommendations. It’s also imperative to spend time socializing the kittens by handling them between 2 and 7 weeks of age.

Mother cat breastfeeding little kittens_Azami adiputera_shutterstock
Image Credit: Azami Adiputera, Shutterstock

Factors That Can Affect the Litter Size

It’s critical to ensure that your pet is in optimal health before the pregnancy. Your cat should be up to date on her vaccinations and deworming. Your vet will likely run bloodwork and look for things that could lead to dystocia or a difficult birth. They include:

If your vet doesn’t give your pet a clean bill of health, you must address those issues before continuing with your plan.

Health Issues During Pregnancy & Birth

Monitoring your pregnant cat is essential. Conditions such as gestational diabetes can cause complications and increase the risk for dystocia. Brachycephalic breeds, like Himalayans and Persians, are more prone to this issue. It’s especially vital the closer your pet comes to the 63-day mark.

As the birth draws closer, try to keep everything status quo. Drastic changes in your pet’s environment are risk factors for dystocia. Ideally, you’ll be present when your cat is ready to deliver. If your vet has identified possible problems, they may recommend checking in your kitty to handle any complications.

Number of Kittens in a Litter

fluffy cat pregnant give birth and new born baby kittens_iarecottonstudio_shutterstock
Image Credit: iarecottonstudio, Shutterstock

Now we come to the answer that you’ve been waiting to receive. Many factors play a role in the number of kittens in a litter. Brachycephalic breeds tend to have smaller litters. That’s part of the reason for the high price of these cats. Some, such as the Manx, often experience dystocia, especially if bred with another of the same breed.

Some breeds, such as the Siamese, often have larger litters. The average size is anywhere from two to eight kittens. On the other end of the spectrum, the largest litter ever recorded was born in the United Kingdom on August 7, 1970. The Burmese-Siamese mix gave birth to 19 kittens, including four stillborn kits.

cat paw divider

Final Thoughts

Deciding to breed your cat is a weighty matter and one that requires thought. It carries health risks for your pet, and it’s a commitment in time and money. However, if you have the resources, you likely find it a rewarding experience, especially if you can teach your children life lessons in the process. All we ask is that you make sure to keep up with your pet’s vet care and find good homes for all the kittens.

thematic break

Featured Image Credit: tanewpix168, Shutterstock