If you own a female cat, you might be wondering how many kittens she would have if she got pregnant. It is a common question among owners who have not decided yet to have their cats spayed. As a cat caregiver, you should know the answer to this question because the new kittens in the family would be your responsibility.
A cat can have between one and twelve kittens. People differ about the exact number. But most people agree the average is four kittens per litter. There are numerous reasons why a cat can have more or even fewer kittens than the average.
Some of the reasons include the cat’s health condition and breed. Due to the mother’s health conditions, not all newborns can survive; usually, many of them die in a matter of days.
Cat’s Pregnancy: How Does It Start
Female cats will try to get pregnant as soon as they reach reproductive maturity. As soon as your female cat starts her heat cycle, you will notice that her behavior changes. Your cat will feel the need to go outside to increase her chances of getting pregnant.
The “mating season” for cats living north of the equator begins in March and lasts until the beginning of fall. It happens because these are the warmer months of the year. However, people living in tropical countries will see their cats repeat this cycle all year long.
Once your cat finds a suitable partner, they will mate. The mating process will not immediately result in pregnancy. Your female cat can take a few days and a few more mating partners before getting fertilized. It is why female cats can have kittens from different male cats.
Cat’s Pregnancy: The Physical Changes
Once your cat gets fertilized, its body will experience changes. The following visual cues will let you know if your cat is pregnant: vomiting, affectionate behavior, more appetite, etc.
But these are only cues; they don’t strictly mean that your cat is pregnant. If you want to make sure that your cat is expecting, take it to the vet. The specialist will be able to perform an ultrasound or an x-ray. In addition, your vet will tell you when and how many kittens you are going to have.
Cat’s Pregnancy: The Birthing Process
Female cats are very good at giving birth. Even domesticated cats still have the instincts necessary to deliver their newborns without human intervention. It will take around 12 hours to complete her birthing process. You need to know how many cats she was expecting to make sure she delivers each one of them.
Every cat is born within twenty to thirty minutes of each other. It will come out with a placenta and in its sac. These sacs have two membranes; the first membrane breaks to serve as a lubricant for your queen to push the kitten out. Once the kitten is out of her body, your queen will open the second membrane with her tongue. It will welcome the kitten to its new world by licking them and stimulating them to breathe. Instinctively, the newborn will move towards your cat’s nipple to have its first meal. It is very unusual to find a cat that doesn’t allow its kittens to nurse.
There might be cases, however, when your cat needs an immediate checkup with a veterinarian. These are:
- When the cat has finished giving birth.
- If your queen has not been able to deliver all kittens in 24 hours.
- If a kitten gets stuck in the birth canal.
- If you see the queen is bleeding.
Cat’s Pregnancy: Things To Consider
There are many things you must consider about a cat’s pregnancy:
- Cat overpopulation is a widespread issue. Experts recommend having your female cats spayed before it reaches its first mating session.
- If your cat got pregnant, you could ask the vet to have her spayed after her first birth.
- Female cats can get infected by different viruses while pregnant. These viruses can cause malformations in kittens.
- You don’t need to intervene in the birthing process. Make sure you oversee the process in case your cat struggles.
How To Take Care Of Newborn Kittens
At this point, the queen has already given birth to her precious kittens. As a cat owner, you may be wondering what’s your role now.
For starters, your cat will be able to take care of her kittens all by herself. But there are cases where the female doesn’t pay equal attention to all her kittens. It happens for several reasons, including:
- It could be your queen’s first litter.
- Your cat could be rejecting a few kittens from the litter because there are too many. It usually happens when cats give birth to more than six kittens.
- The kitten might have been born with diseases or caught an infection.
How To Act As A Foster Mother
In these cases, you will have to step up and help the kitten’s development. You will need to act as a foster mother, and there are a few things to consider:
- You need to take care of their body temperatures. They should be ranging between 97-101°F in their first four weeks.
- You will have to nurse the rejected kittens manually. Don’t try to push the queen to help the kitten because it may cause her to repel the whole litter.
- Please make sure you consult your vet for more information about it.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Many Kittens Are In A Cat’s First Litter?
The first litter is usually smaller, ranging from four to six kittens. But people suggest that the first litter should be zero. Cat overpopulation is a real issue; most cats remain unwanted and end up stray or euthanized in animal shelters.
Can Cats Have One Kitten?
Yes, your cat may have only one kitten. Some cat owners have suggested that this doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with your female cat. It can happen that the rest of the litter died.
However, if your queen has several litters of only one kitten, you should take it to the vet. It is essential to check your cat’s health, as there could be some issues with her reproductive system.
How Many Litters Can A Cat Have In A Year?
Your cat can have three to four litters a year, given that each litter can be four kittens. By the end of a year, a single queen can deliver from twelve to sixteen cats.
How Long Are Cats Pregnant?
Cats are pregnant for about two months. They range between sixty-two to 67 days before giving birth.
What Does A Female Cat Do With Dead Kittens?
Female cats are very tidy, and they will clean up any waste resulted in the birthing process. A queen’s instincts will tell her the dead kitten is a waste, and she will eat it. Your cat will do the same thing with the placenta, sacs, and any other thing that comes out of her body. Cats do this to protect the newborns from any bacteria infection or diseases.
Can A Cat Hurt Kittens From Another Cat?
No, this is very improbable. Cats in the same household will even protect the newborn kittens.
Do Cats First Litter Usually Die?
All litters will have a low death rate. There are some reasons why the first litter can result in fewer kittens. Your cat could neglect her newborns by leaving them alone and not keeping the temperature levels they need. Also, she could involuntarily suffocate them to death. Some people claim that queens tend to eat their first litter after they are born.
Can You Touch Newborn Kittens?
It would be best if you do not touch the newborn kittens unless the queen is not properly taking care of them. If you decide to touch them to play with them while the mother is away, the queen will know. Scientific research shows that cats can distinguish their smell from other species. Once a cat realizes that its kittens smell differently, it will move them to a safer location.
It may be an issue for cat owners who want to supervise the development of kittens because you won’t be able to see how they are going until they start walking. Additionally, newly-born kittens come with a fragile immune system; your hands can transmit diseases that can make them sick. The best thing to do is to observe your kittens until the queen approaches.
Will My Cat Need A C-Section?
There are instances where a female cat needs a cesarean section. These cases are not frequent, but they can happen. The vet can decide to go for a C-section to remove the kittens. It can occur if your cat has been laboring for more than 12 hours and has not delivered all its kittens.
Will A Vet Induce An Abortion In A Pregnant Cat?
Yes, vets can administer a series of drugs to terminate an unwanted cat pregnancy.
Cats are wonderful pets. They are independent in all senses, including their pregnancy and birthing process. You must understand the responsibility that comes with having an unspayed female cat. If a queen gets pregnant, there will be between one and twelve kittens.
Be mindful of the overpopulation of cats. Most unwanted cats end up in animal shelters, but not all of them get adopted. Anyways, if you are willing to see your cat family grow, go for it. We expect this information comes in handy for female cat owners.
Shawn Manaher is a serial entrepreneur but when he isn’t working, he loves dogs. He’s owned different pets over the years, and always gives a part of his heart to each pet.