How Many Kittens Can a Cat Have?
Cats BehaviorCats Care

How Many Kittens Can a Cat Have?

As a feline parent, you are overcome with awe when your cat is pregnant and you will be naturally curious about how many kittens you should be expecting since cats give birth to entire litters at once. Hence the question “How many kittens are in a litter?" Pregnant cats can give birth to four to six kittens during their two-month gestation period, and a queen can have up to four litters of kittens in a year.

What Is a Kitten Season?

As the name suggests, the kitten season spans from March to October, when cats go into heat and are most likely to give birth to a large litter of kittens. As interesting as it may sound, this time of year is not favorable for animal shelters because unspayed stray pregnant cats have a lot of kittens, generating a spike in the number of kittens in shelters.

How Many Kittens Can a 1-Year Cat Old Have?

A cat this age can have an average cat litter size of three to four kittens, as young cats do. For your cat's safety, vets recommend that you spay your queen to ensure she does not have so many litters, which can be detrimental to her health. 

How Many Litters Can Cats Have Per Year?

According to PetMD, the cat's gestation cycle is officially two months, meaning your queen can have more than one litter yearly. A cat may have up to four kitten litters in a year, but your vet may advise that they have no more than two litters to allow your cat adequate time to recover.

a group of kittens are standing in the grass
a group of kittens are standing in the grass

What Determines How Many Kittens a Cat Has?

Although there are no instructions for determining how many kittens your queen will bear, some factors may influence the number of babies your feline buddy will have.

Mother’s age and health

A first-time queen may have up to three kittens, but subsequent litters may be bigger - in general, younger cats have fewer litters than older cats. The queen's health is critical in determining the number of kittens because if your queen is underweight she will bear more stillborn kittens than surviving ones.

Breed

Some cat breeds are more prone to produce kittens than others. Notable instances are the Siamese and related breeds, which have bigger litter sizes than the others, and the Persian breed, which has smaller litter sizes than the other cat breeds. There are some breeds, such as the tailless Manx, where one to four of its kittens do not survive.

Health problems

Health conditions such as feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) can reduce a queen's fertility and capacity to give birth to a large number of kittens. Meanwhile, the Feline panleukopenia virus can cause stillbirths or even abortion of the litters if the queen is infected early in her pregnancy. According to an article written by Zoetis, late pregnancy infection in the queen can harm kitten brain development, causing movement difficulties and cerebellar hypoplasia.

Breeding frequency

Queens have induced ovulation, meaning they do not ovulate unless they mate. This affects the number of litters because the more the cat mates, the more the chances of having more litters— these kittens can be from different fathers if the queen mates with other male cats. 

How Can You Tell How Many Kittens Your Cat Is Having?

Unfortunately, there is no way to know how many kittens your cat will have. Due to health concerns, a vet can perform an X-ray in the final trimester, but it is not 100% accurate. The vet may also employ the method of abdominal palpitations for each kitten, but this is a wild guess. 

What Is the Largest Litter of Kittens?

A queen can have an average of four to six kittens in a litter, but it does not mean the number can’t be higher. The largest litter of kittens ever recorded is 19 kittens by a Burmese/Siamese cat in 1970, although four were stillborn. So your queen may exceed your expectations. 

Conclusion

The number of kittens your cat may be expecting may vary according to her breed and health status. For your queens' safety, visit a vet to spay them to control the number of litters they can give birth to and check their reproductive health to avoid infections.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it called a cat litter? 

Cats give birth to their kittens at once in one bed, hence the name cat litter. 

What is a litter of kittens called? 

A litter of kittens is also called a kindle. 

How many kittens are in a litter?

An average of four to six kittens are in a litter.

Can a litter of kittens have more than one father?

Yes, they can.