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How Many Kittens Can a Cat Have? Facts & FAQ

If you’ve been wondering exactly how many kittens a cat can have per litter, you’re in the right place! We’ll tell you everything that you need to know, as well as a few interesting facts about the different factors that can affect the size of a cat’s litter.

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What’s The Average Size of a Litter?

kittens in carpet_Tom Pingel, Shutterstock
Image Credit: Tom Pingel, Shutterstock

The average size of a litter is four kittens. The range is pretty big, though, so expect anywhere from one to 12 kittens.

The largest litter ever recorded was an incredible 19 kittens! They were born in 1970, and sadly, four of the kittens were stillborn. Fourteen of the remaining kittens were male, and there was just one female.

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Can Female Cats Have Kittens From Multiple Males at the Same Time?

cat sitting_Pixabay
Image Credit: Pixabay

Yes! Female cats are induced ovulators, so they release eggs after mating with a male cat. If they mate with multiple male cats, they will release multiple eggs, and these can be fertilized by the sperm of different male cats. This helps explain why the kittens in some litters can look quite different in terms of colors and physical appearance.

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When Can a Female Cat Get Pregnant?

cat lying_absolutimages, Shutterstock
Image Credit: absolutimages, Shutterstock

Female cats usually start coming into heat when they’re around 6 months old. This means they can have a litter of kittens before they’re technically considered an adult cat.

If your female cat does roam outside and she’s not part of a breeding program for registered purebred kittens, it’s best to have her spayed. Speak to your vet about the best time to perform this procedure, and help prevent any unplanned litters of kittens.

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Do Some Cat Breeds Have Larger Litters?

Siamese Cat_rihaij, pixabay
Image Credit: rihaij, pixabay
Yes, larger litters of kittens are often seen in pedigree breeds, including:
  • Siamese
  • Burmese
  • Oriental

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What Else Can Influence the Size of a Litter?

pregnant cat lying_Pixabay
Image Credit: Pixabay

Besides the breed of your cat, there are a few other factors that influence the number of kittens that they may have, including:

  • Older female cats tend to have fewer kittens.
  • Larger female cats will often have more kittens than smaller females.
  • Nutrition and health. Feral or stray cats will often have fewer kittens as their health and nutrition may not be optimal. Females suffering from illnesses or lack of nutrition won’t necessarily have the physical reserves to be able to carry a large litter.
  • A stressed female cat who is constantly nervous or on edge may not have as large a litter as a cat that is secure and confident in her surroundings.

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Can I Tell How Many Kittens My Cat Will Have?

cat and vet._Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock
Image Credit: Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock

Sometimes it’s possible to predict how many kittens your cat is expecting, although the answer won’t necessarily be exact. Your veterinarian can palpate your cat’s belly and give you an estimate of how many kittens that they can feel. They may also use an ultrasound to estimate how many kittens are in your cat’s litter as well. Bear in mind that for either of these methods, kittens may “hide” behind others or be harder to feel, depending on their position.

Knowing roughly how many kittens to expect can make it easier to help your cat once she does begin labor, as you’ll be on hand should any problems arise. Most female cats give birth without any complications, but it’s always a good idea to have your vet’s number ready. After that, you can look forward to getting to know those beautiful kittens!

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Featured Image Credit: SariMe, Shutterstock