How Can There Be So Many Kinds of Kittens in a Single Litter?

A multi-breed litter is not unusual.
i Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Discovering your little Miss Kitty is expecting is almost as exciting as seeing those adorable little smushed kitten faces once they're born. But you may be surprised if her little ones all look completely different. Multiple-breed litters aren't unusual, and are due to the way a cat gets pregnant.

A Quick Overview

Without getting into too much detail about the birds and the bees and the kitties, a female cat's reproductive cycle goes like this: she reaches sexual maturity between 4 and 6 months of age, and begins going into heat shortly after. This essentially means she is ready to get pregnant. She will continue to cycle in and out of his receptive stage for as long as the temperature and daylight hours are optimal, usually between January or February and October or November.

Ready, Willing and Able

Female cats in heat love to announce the fact to attract any male cat within earshot. She will vocalize very loudly, and appear much more affectionate. When males approach, she will play hard-to-get at first, but will eventually allow her pick to come closer. Cats experience induced ovulation, meaning that she will only release an egg once a tomcat mates with her. If more than one tomcat successfully woos her, she will release a new egg for each suitor. A cat's heat cycle lasts for up to a week, meaning that her litter could be very diverse by the time all is said and done.

Who's Your Daddy?

Once her primal urges are satisfied, all fertilized eggs will travel to her uterus in about five days. The average litter produces three to four kittens, while up to nine is still considered normal. Depending on the number of males she encountered during her heat cycle, each kitten could have a different father.


Although kittens are adorable little balls of fluff, each tiny baby will very quickly mature and become able to father or bear his or her own kittens in just a matter of months. Speak to your vet about the best time to get them—and their mama—spayed or neutered to eliminate the possibility of more unexpected pets.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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