Waiting for your pregnant cat to deliver her kittens is a time of excitement and anticipation. Did you know that she’s known as the queen?  Whether it’s her first litter or she’s delivered several, you never get over the anticipated moment of delivery. Throughout her pregnancy, you care for her, making a comfortable birthing box and feeding her nutritious food to make sure all goes well with her delivery.

Usually, cats will have 3 to 4 cats in a litter. However, it is possible for cats to have a single kitten in a litter. If your cat has only had one kitten, it might be due to interrupted labor which can last up to 2 days.

After what seems like forever, your cat goes into labor and you wait to hear the first, quiet cries of the newborn kittens. The first beautiful kitten arrives and begins nursing. Now, you wait for the next kitten to make its way into the world.

Time passes and nothing more happens. You can’t believe your cat only had one kitten. Read more to find out if it’s normal for your cat to have one kitten?

Is It Normal for Cats to Have One Kitten?

If your cat only had one kitten, you know the anxiety it can cause. You wonder if it’s normal for cats to have one kitten. Could there be something wrong? Is one kitten healthy? You might even wonder if there are more kittens there.

Knowing how to prepare for your cat’s labor and delivery can help ease some of your anxiety. It will also make it a safer delivery for the mother cat and her kittens.

Preparing for Your Cat’s Labor and Delivery

Make sure your queen eats nutritional food developed for breeding cats. She should eat this food until she’s done nursing her kittens.

As her belly grows, she’ll have a hard time grooming herself, especially under her tail. You can help her as she gets closer to her due date by trimming the fur under her tail and on her belly. This will also help the kittens find their mom’s nipples for nursing.

Make a Birthing Box

When your queen gets nearer to delivery day, she’ll start looking for a place to give birth. Setting up a birthing box in a confined, quiet space gives her a safe area for birth. If you don’t use a birthing box, you might find newborn kittens under your bed or in your closet.

Prepare a box with several layers of bedding, such as newspapers, towels, or blankets. Make sure you have extras on hand to replace the ones that get wet and soiled during the kittens’ births. Do not use any type of clumping litter because it can stick to the wet kittens and suffocate them.

Also, prepare a second box for the newborns. A heating pad placed under a layer of towels on one half of the box makes a warm spot for you to place the kittens between births. Only heat half the box so the kittens can wriggle their way to the other half if they get too warm.

Why Did My Cat Have One Kitten?

Did you know that some cats can deliver one kitten and then stop labor for up to a day or two? So, you might think your cat only had one kitten, but you could be surprised when more come along the next day. It’s a good idea to understand what your cat experiences during labor and delivery. This helps your cat have a safe delivery, and it’s less stressful for you.

How to Know When Your Cat Is Going into Labor

If you know what to look for during your cat’s birthing process, it can make it easier for you and the mother cat. Once you notice signs that your cat is ready to start the birthing process, you’ll be able to prepare yourself for her labor and delivery. Twenty-four hours before your cat is ready to give birth, she’ll, you’ll notice the following symptoms:

  • Her temperature drops below 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Becomes more affectionate than usual.
  • Meows for your attention.
  • Loses her appetite
  • Nipples might have a milky discharge.
  • Excessive digging in her litter box or birthing box
  • Licking genitals
  • Panting

Once you notice these behaviors, get ready for the three stages of your cat’s birthing process.

Three Stages of Your Cat’s Birthing Process

The normal delivery of kittens involves the following three stages:

  1. Dilation – This first stage can take up to 36 hours, especially if this is your cat’s first litter. Your cat’s cervix and the muscles in her pelvis relax. She’ll also start having a few contractions. You might be able to see the kittens moving in her abdomen.
  2. Delivery – Each kitten takes from five minutes to one-half hour to deliver. Your cat’s contractions get stronger and closer together. When the kittens move down the birth canal, your cat will have strong contractions. Usually, the kitten’s head comes first, but it’s not uncommon for the tail to come first.
  3. Passing the Placenta – This is the final stage of your cat’s birthing process. After the kittens arrive, the placenta also passes. Make sure you can see the placenta of each kitten because any left behind can cause an infection in your cat.

After the mother cat delivers her kittens, you should clean the kittens’ airways. An ear-bulb works well for getting the fluid out of the kitten’s mouth. If you don’t do this step, the kittens could breathe the birthing fluids into their lungs. Sometimes, you might need to break the birthing membrane from the newborn’s mouth and nose.

What Is Interrupted Labor?

Interrupted labor is normal. It happens when the mother cat stops straining to deliver the kittens. You might think she’s all done birthing because she rests and eats. She could even get up and use the litter box. If she gave birth to a kitten, she might even start nursing it.

At this point, you might think she’s only having one kitten. Interrupted labor can last up to two days. Normal delivery will begin again, and your cat might deliver more kittens.

Decide if Your Cat Needs to Visit the Vet

Check the mother cat’s abdomen if she only gave birth to one kitten.

  • Does it look distended or lumpy?
  • Is she in pain and distress?
  • Has labor gone on too long with no results?

If your cat experiences any of these problems, it could mean other kittens are inside. For some reason, your queen can’t deliver her kittens. Your best bet is to bring her to your veterinarian for an ultrasound. In a few minutes, you’ll know whether other kittens are coming. Also, professionals are on hand to help with further deliveries if needed.

Is It Normal for a Cat to Have Two or Three Kittens?

Litter sizes can vary, so it is normal for a cat to have two or three kittens. The number of kittens depends on many factors, such as:

  • Age – You can expect fewer kittens with a first litter or with an older cat.
  • Breed – Some cat breeds produce more kittens than others. For example, Siamese cats usually have larger litters. On the other hand, Persian and Manx cats have fewer.
  • Health – If the mother cat has feline panleukopenia virus (FPV) or other infections, it can cause fewer kittens or stillbirths.
  • Genetic history – The genetics of both the mother and father influence how many kittens your cat has.
  • Ovulation time – The longer a queen ovulates, the more chances she has of mating with the male cats, which results in more kittens.

How Many Kittens Do Cats Normally Have?

Most mother cats have litters with four to five kittens, but don’t be surprised if your cat has from one to nine. This is also normal.

As you can see, the answers vary as to how many kittens cats normally have. One fun fact, according to the Guinness World Records, is a Burmese and Siamese mix gave birth to 19 kittens. Also, there was only one female kitten.

Things That Can Happen During Your Cat’s Pregnancy

Many things can happen during your cat’s pregnancy and birth. For example, she could have had more fetuses during her pregnancy, but they didn’t survive. In this case, her body often reabsorbs them, so you never knew they were there.

Another interesting fact is that kittens can have different fathers. This makes it such a surprise when one litter has several different colored kittens and various fur patterns, colors, and textures.

Author

I created and currently run Kitty Cat Tips, the website that you can go to when you have questions about your cat's behavior. It's my hope that you find Kitty Cat Tips to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your cat. You can read more about me and my website here.