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How Many Kittens Can A Cat Have? | Cat Pregnancy Guide 101

Watching new kittens come to be a part of your household can be a wonderful experience in itself. However, if you own a female cat, it is a good idea to have a little basic know-how regarding feline pregnancy. You all may want to know how many kittens can a cat have. If you are willing to let your cats have kittens, it is beneficial to learn about the early signs of heat and what follows afterward. We know you want the answer for ‘how long is a cat pregnancy?’. Well we must say that 65 days is the time for cat litter and pregnancy, but this time is subject to change. This article also goes on to describe how a feline pregnancy pans out and the signs to look out for. Additionally, we will also be discussing kitten mortality rates to provide a comprehensive outlook.

How Many Kittens Can A Cat Have in a Litter?

According to statistics, most cat litters range in size from 4 to 8 kittens. The litter sizes can be quite small for cats that are giving birth for the first time. Thus, most first-time litters contain just about 2 or 3 kittens.  Some people ask how many kittens can a 1 year old cat have?’. So, if you too have this question we will answer with 2 – 3 kitties.  As felines mature, so does their ability to give birth to a larger-sized litter.

You might be wondering what determines the size of the litter. According to vets, these have a number of factors as attributes. They can be the physical attributes of a cat, the number of eggs it has released, etc. Speaking about eggs, this is often determined by the number of male cats available in that particular area. The greater the interaction with the male cats, the more eggs are released, leading to a larger litter. So, for those wondering ‘how many kittens can a cat have in a litter?’, there are a lot of factors affecting this situation.

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Most cats can undergo the whole cycle of giving birth 2 times a year. Thus, if your question is ‘how many kittens in a litter in a year?’, you’ve got your answer. However, vets suggest that spaying your cat after one season is a good idea. This is to reduce complications during birth and a whole heap of other diseases. Besides, many researchers say that spayed felines tend to have a greater average lifespan compared to ones that aren’t.

The size of the cat litter box can also sometimes vary according to a feline’s breed. Siamese cats are notorious for having a larger litter, while Persians tend to have smaller ones. Non-pedigree cats are generally more fertile compared to their counterparts and give birth to large litters with little problems. Regardless, it is best that you keep an eye out for when your cat is showing signs of being in heat. Chances are, within the next couple of weeks, she might very well be carrying kittens. Moreover, the answer for ‘how many kittens can a cat have in a year?’, will be 8 to 16 kitties.

The Different Stages Of Cat Birth

#1 First Stage

This stage happens when uterine contractions start to happen in your pet. This is also the phase wherein its cervix and vagina start to relax. These wil have stages of relaxation as well to ensure that the blood supply doesn’t get cut off for kittens. This phase generally makes the cat repeatedly go to its birthing bed. Besides, if your pet loves physical contact, you might find her wanting reassurance at this point. Nonetheless, for those giving birth for the first time, this stage may even last up to 36 hours.

#2 Second Stage

Here, the uterine contractions start getting more and more strained and repetitive. The first kitten generally starts getting pushed toward the pelvic opening for birth. As the first kitten is born, the membrane surrounding it bursts the water bag. Later, the mother cat will clear that fluid by itself. However, it will not pass all of the fluid, as some of it is retained by the cat’s body. Such a scenario’s purpose is to act as a lubricant to facilitate easier birth for other kittens. Delivery in this stage can range anywhere between 5 to 30 minutes.

#3 Third Stage

In the third phase, it comprises passing out all the placenta trapped as the kittens come out. As each kitten comes out, the mother will lick clean all the membranes and tear apart their umbilical cord. Don’t be surprised if you notice your pet consuming the placenta or umbilical cord, as this is quite a natural behavior. Consuming such helps the mother gain nutrition as well as clear the aura that attracts predators. This is followed by the cleaning of the kittens’ faces and noses. Sometimes a resting phase will be there, which can last from 24-36 hours. After this has passed, you will observe your cat resume giving birth to the rest of the litter.

When Do Cats Become Able To Reproduce?

Ability of a cat to give birth is closely related to its estrous cycle. As a feline owner, the term estrous cycle might be more familiar as a heat cycle in your pet. Advent of a heat cycle indicates that a feline is now ready to reproduce. Estrous cycles can be first observed in these feisty animals when they are about 6 months old. Moreover, felines can go into heat multiple times during the breeding season and often depending on a number of environmental factors. Each heat cycle in these animals generally lasts for about a week though exceptions to this might exist. Can cats sense pregnancy? Yes, of course they can.

How do you determine whether your cat is in heat or not? Initial signs are often behavioral changes that occur in them. Cats will tend to become extremely affectionate and demand affection. They also tend to get back on their rear legs and tend to knead the floor.

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Apart from this, some might also tend to meow more often during this stage. This is also the time when your cat will start to urinate and mark its territory. Another interesting facet will be that male cats will come near the vicinity of your female cat and mark their own territories as well. Your kitty can breed at any moment while it is in heat. Most female felines release eggs during the estrus period, making them fertile. It may take around 3-4 mating sessions before you notice it showing signs of having kittens. These mating sessions are generally very sporadic in nature and last short time intervals. Once your cat realizes that she has conceived kittens, she will soon go out of the heat in the next 1 to 2 days. Later, its pregnancy will then last for about 9 weeks from hereon.

When Can Your Cats Stop Having Kittens?

Cats, unlike humans, do not experience menopause. Hence, this enables them to have kittens all throughout their lives. However, by the time a cat turns 5 you will notice that it has opted not to have any kittens. This is because the litter size greatly reduces as feline ages, or they simply develop health complications. Most breeders tend to spay their cats after they get older, as it greatly threatens both their health and that of their kittens.

Kitten Survival Rates

We must say that kittens from pedigree mothers tend to have higher mortality compared to non-pedigree ones. Besides, kitten deaths can be due to a number of factors. Some of the most common ones are birth defects, infections, and lack of nourishment. Newborn kittens generally pass away in the first few weeks of their lives, and this phenomenon is famous as the “fading kitten” syndrome. You might wonder what the chances are of your kitten making it alive. Well, the good news is that around 75% of kittens make it through to the 8-week-old mark. Out of these, a further 20-40% do not make it past 12 weeks of their lives.


Now that you are aware of the multiple facets regarding cat pregnancies and the birthing process, you might wonder if it all seems too complicated. However, just like any other natural phenomenon, this, too, takes care of itself. Your cat is more than equipped to deal with her pregnancy and take care of her kittens. All you need to do is provide her with a safe and comfortable environment to have her kittens. It is also a good idea to constantly provide reassurance to them. Pregnancies can also be a time to take care of your cat’s dietary needs to ensure that she has a comfortable experience.