Kittens are some of the most adorable creatures that currently reside on this planet.
Granted, they are just baby cats, but there is just something about them that is undeniably cute.
Their lack of grace, cuddly nature, their high-pitched mewling, their curiosity in everything without knowing why, kittens are the all the best parts of cats wrapped up in a tiny furry package.
That being said, there always seems to be a lot of them when a cat gives birth. This wouldn’t be an issue, if we knew that a cat was even pregnant.
When kittens grow up, they become cats and cats are very agile escape artists who have no problem disappearing from view.
Once they have disappeared from view, it is a 50/50 chance whether they have shacked up with a tomcat or not and once that happens, boom kittens and the cycle begins anew.
Once you know a cat is pregnant, it is anyone’s guess how many kittens will come along. Will it be 1? 2? 4? 10?
Who knows, but what is the upper limit of a litter? And how many newborn kittens can a cat have?
In this article, we will look at how many kittens a cat can have and the factors that affect the litter size.
What Are The Factors That Impact A Cat’s Litter Size?
Surprisingly, there are quite a few factors that influence a cat’s litter size.
It is not like humans, where it is mostly one child per pregnant woman, and any more than that is a complete surprise to most people.
The range is more varied in cats, not just in biological, but environmental factors as well.
The first indicator of the size of a cat’s litter is the breed itself. For example, a Persian cat has quite small litters, whereas a Maine Coon has quite big litters.
This is partially because the breeds themselves are more inclined to produce more or less kittens, and partially because breeds that are normally larger will tend to have larger litters as well.
The other thing to note about breeds is that there is also a difference between purebreds and mixed-breeds cats.
The reason for this may be to do with compatibility. If we take the Savannah cat as an example.
The Savannah is part domestic cat and part serval, a different much larger predatory breed of wild cat from Africa that is a different species from domestic cats.
Savannah cats tend to have major fertility issues until the fifth generation.
Now, this is different from different breeds of cat, as all domestic cats are the same species, and the example is extreme, but it may be that purebreds that mate with purebreds are just more compatible than with other breeds of cat.
Age can also greatly affect the size of a litter. If the cat is a first time mother or quite young, then the litters will tend to be on the smaller size.
As the cat gains experience and age, the litter normally gets larger, however this is not a given.
This generally peaks during a cat’s middle age, and then the litters start to get smaller again.
This is not to say that cats can’t get pregnant during their later years, it’s just that the litter size tends to get smaller and smaller as the years pass past a certain age.
Older pregnant cats are also prone to more problems and complications during birth as well, so past a certain point it is best if they just avoid pregnancy.
What Age Do Cats Reach Sexual Maturity?
A cat’s lifespan is about 15 to 20 years, with some cats reaching ages into their 30s.
Due to the difference in lifespan, cats can get pregnant a lot sooner than a person can, though it may still surprise just how young they can become pregnant.
The earliest a cat can reach sexual maturity is 4 months of age and most tend to reach sexual maturity around the 6-month mark, which is also the point at which kittens have reached their full size.
Still, it is best to keep an eye on them and make sure they don’t become pregnant at this point, as they are still not adults.
They reach the adulthood mark at about a year old, so try to keep unwanted pregnancies at bay until then, if you can.
This is mainly because their bodies are still maturing and developing until the year mark, even if they have reached their full size.
Another reason to try to stop your cat getting pregnant as soon as it can is that it will not have developed any maternal instincts at that point, due to the fact it is still developing.
This means that this very young cat or, even worse, kitten doesn’t really know how to care for the kittens that it just birthed.
How Many Kittens Can A Cat Have?
Cats have large litters. It is just a fact of life that they will have a lot of kittens. The maximum amount of kittens a cat can have is 12, which is mind-boggling to us.
Imagine carrying 12 kids in your belly for an extended period? It would be awful.
Most cats have between 4 and 8 kittens in a single litter, which is still a lot.
Luckily for cats, their gestation period is a lot shorter than humans, with their pregnancies only lasting about 62 to 67 days, so about 2 to 2.5 months.
This wouldn’t be so bad for both owners and cats, if it just happened once or twice in their lives.
Unfortunately for both parties, cats are incredibly fertile creatures, love to wander, and have no problems meeting new boyfriends.
As such, cats can become pregnant often. How regularly? Well, they can become pregnant up to 3 times a year.
That means that if a cat becomes pregnant with the maximum amount of offspring, 3 times a year, and lives until the end of their 20th year, they could conceivably have 720 children.
Even if only half of that cat’s children have kittens at the same rate as her, then that singular cat could possibly have more than 200,000 grandchildren at the end of her lifetime, if our math is right.
We can’t even imagine.
Luckily, this isn’t the case for most cats, thank god for little miracles, but it gives you an idea of why many cat owners spay their cats after their first litter.
It would just be impossible to find homes for all those cats, and you really don’t want to send them to shelter if you don’t have to.
How To Tell If Your Cat Is Pregnant?
You may have noticed some changes in your cat, which you suspect are pregnancy related. If this is the case, then there are several ways to tell whether your cat is pregnant or not.
Normally, the first sign that your cat has gotten pregnant is their nipples.
Most of the time, a cat’s nipples are not overly prominent and are not generally seen much, due to being under their belly.
If your cat is pregnant, this will change as their nipples will become swollen and pink.
They will now hang down from the belly in a much more obvious way, which is a good indication your cat is now pregnant.
Another physical change is weight gain. This happens on two fronts.
The first is the obvious one, which is that your cat is now carrying numerous other cats inside her, so she will of course be heavier.
The other is that now she has those cats inside her, she will have a much larger appetite and be constantly cleaning out her food bowl.
Even if you are uncertain of a pregnancy, maybe take your cat to the vet if they are eating much more than they used to.
They can confirm a pregnancy or another underlying issue that may be affecting their appetite. It may be easier to tell later on as your cat’s belly gets bigger.
During a pregnancy, a cat’s behavior may also change.
Your cat may start sleeping much more and since cats already sleep up to 15 hours a day, this will appear quite dramatic as your cat will barely be awake.
The other behavioral change will be that your cat will become more affectionate towards you.
Most cats are affectionate, but, unlike dogs, it is not a continuous stream of affection. They give affection more in intermittent bursts before going off and doing their own thing again.
This may change during pregnancy, and your cat will spend most of its time snuggling up to you and purring constantly.
The last indication that your cat is indeed pregnant is the worst part for the cat. Vomiting. Your cat may start vomiting from the effects of the pregnancy.
Some vomiting is to be expected, but if it is excessive, take your cat to the vet to get her checked out.
When your cat does give birth, you can expect her to find a secluded and quiet place to give birth. You may have to search around the house, but don’t panic.
Cats are agile and crafty, so it will be in some hard to get to a corner that is safe, quiet, and protected.
No matter the amount of kittens per litter that your cat gives birth to, you can expect it to be more than 1 and less than 12.
Beyond that, only the mitigating factors mentioned previously can give you an idea of how many kittens a cat can have in a litter.
If you would like more specifics, maybe research your cat’s breed and take into account their age as well.
It will give you a clearer picture of how many newborn kittens you can expect to come into your home.