Everyone loves kittens! Most cat owners will attest to the fact that kittenhood is one of the most rewarding and exciting parts of your cat’s life.
Kittens are cute, cuddly, mischievous, and downright fuzzy. What’s not to love?
While kittens are born throughout the year just like most mammals, there is definitely something called “kitten season,” the time of year when we see a sharp increase in kitten births.
In this article, we’ll cover the following:
- When Do Cats Have Kittens?
- Should Your Cat Have Kittens?
- When Do Cats Stop Having Kittens?
- How Often Can Cats Have Kittens?
When Do Cats Have Kittens?
Many people in the cat world know about “kitten season.” Kitten season, which begins in early spring and extends to early fall, is the time of year when the most kittens are born.
This is because cats are most likely to meet and copulate when the weather is warm. Raising kittens is a hard enough job as it is, and cats know that warmer temperatures often mean a higher survival rate for their offspring.
Unfortunately, kitten season isn’t as cuddly and wonderful as the name implies. While kittens are always precious and delightful, kitten season often comes with a huge increase in kittens being left at shelters.
In fact, the Humane Society of the United States even has a page on their website dedicated to “Coping with Kitten Season.”
The sad reality is that many kittens are born without a human home in place and will end up in the cat shelter waiting to be adopted. This sudden uptick in births can be very hard for shelters to deal with, as the kitten population in their facility can easily double or even triple during the warmer months of the year.
Here is a video about one shelter’s story about how they handle kitten season:
Should Your Cat Have Kittens?
Honestly? Probably not. While kittens are wonderful bundles of love, the truth is that there are more than enough kittens in the world already that are looking for homes. According to the Kitten Coalition, there are over 3 million cats waiting for homes in the United States right now.
No matter how special your cat is, there is really no good reason for intentionally breeding them. There are many beautiful kittens waiting in shelters to be adopted by loving homes, and good cat owners know that it’s irresponsible to contribute to this number.
While there are many responsible purebred cat breeders, these individuals spend thousands of dollars and countless hours making sure the kittens they breed are healthy and homes are lined up for each kitten, often before they are even born!
Breeders of purebred cats produce few litters a year and breed to better the particular breed of cat in question. They do not generally contribute to the homeless kitten epidemic, as many of them have waitlists of available homes that are anxious to bring home a kitten.
If you are faced with an unexpected litter of kittens, the best thing you can do is find them loving homes after they turn 12 weeks old. You should prepare for a litter as soon as you realize your cat is pregnant.
Make sure to have kitten milk on hand, as nutrition is very important for young kittens and they may become ill or die if they aren’t able to nurse properly. The mother kitten should have nipples for her littles to suckle on.
The best things you can to do help homeless kittens are:
- Adopt one! What better way to make a difference in the life of a kitten than to welcome them into your loving home?
- Spay or neuter your cat. Make sure you don’t become part of the problem!
- Donate to your local cat shelter or become a volunteer.
When Can Cats Start Having Kittens?
Cats are extremely prolific breeders. Incredibly enough, one female cat can give birth to more than 100 kittens during her lifetime.
There are usually between 1-8 kittens per litter, and cats are already fertile when they are about 5-9 months old. Once they reach maturity, female cats can continue having kittens for many years, often until they are 10 or 12!
How Often Can Cats Have Kittens?
While rabbits are often hailed as the most inexhaustible breeders of the animal kingdom, cats really can give them a run for their money. The short duration of feline pregnancy, coupled with the fact that they can get pregnant again soon after giving birth, means that a single cat can give birth to up to 30 kittens a year!
Feline pregnancy only lasts around 63 days. After giving birth, cats can go back into heat almost immediately, which paves the way for possible back-to-back pregnancies.
If your cat has already had one unexpected litter, it’s best to spay her immediately to prevent her from having another. Contrary to popular belief, it is not true that female cats need to give birth in order to be happy.
In fact, female cats that are spayed and have never had kittens live longer and healthier lives!
If you need more reasons to spay or neuter your cat, this video will give you 370,000 of them!
So, when do cats have kittens?
While cats can get pregnant and give birth at any point during the calendar year, most kittens are born during the spring and summer. If your cat has a litter of kittens, you’ll want to take very good care of them.
The best way to do this is to be prepared! Having kitten milk on hand is a good first step, as kittens that are unable to nurse may succumb to fading kitten syndrome and possibly die. Once they get old enough for solid food, you’ll want to be ready to provide them with a high-quality kitten food such as Merrick kitten food.
But always remember: the best thing to do to help kittens is to spay or neuter your cat!
Did you adopt your kitten from a shelter? Has your cat ever had kittens? Tell us all about it in the comments!